Clock Opera Live @ Hoxton Bar & Kitchen

This review first appeared in The Fly on September 23rd, 2011

“Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, is a night of experimentation,” says Guy Connelly, aka Clock Opera. While his words may endorse sampling a more exotic beer or eyeing up an older woman, he’s actually talking about the music at Hoxton Bar and Kitchen tonight.

Named after the brilliant intricacy of timepieces and the, err, beautiful singing of an opera, to call it an experiment would be hitting the nail on the head. Figuratively, of course, though with his knack of making everyday objects part of his percussive entourage, nail-hitting may well be on the agenda tonight. Looping vocals, splicing sounds and dissecting lyrics before winding them around themselves – these are the potions and lotions in Guy Connelly’s lab. Opening with ‘White Noise’, his sharp, icy notes slice into the still atmosphere – one-part Wild Beast-warbling with two shakes of Everything Everything’s glitchy zest.

The influence of EE’s sci-fi fused pop is also evident in ‘A Piece Of String’ – Guy’s echoing voice (“You have set me free/from analysing dreams… I love you right and wrong”) is soon bolstered by Gameboy synths and clattering drums as he begs “Teach me wrong from right! Show me black and white!” But for every instance of schizophrenic, battling beats, there’s a smattering of honest simplicity. Penultimate track ‘Belongings’ grows into a robust, sonorous sing-a-long but it starts (and ends) with a slow, woozy piano.

It’s proof that, while his trade in chopped-up pop is admirable for its complexity, and his blissful union between odd sounds is nice, it’s a testament that Clock Opera can still be captivating and stunning when the veil is lifted and we see the man behind the curtain. Quite the experiment, indeed – and all the more rewarding when it works.

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