Clockcleaner: Auf Wiedersehen
Published: October 13, 2010
At some point in the last dying throes before Philly’s Clockcleaner gave up, it recorded Auf Wiedersehen, which comes a full year and a half after the gloomy racket-punk band’s final show, and even after frontman John Sharkey’s first couple of releases with his new band Puerto Rico Flowers. These four songs, soundtracks for bleak drugs and just-broke-up blackout drinking, feel less belated than a necessary filling-in-the-gaps—where one thing meets the other, and where Clockcleaner’s unhingements and racket get not stripped away but reduced, concentrated into crystalline funeral-punk death march. Music that feels even more creepy and dangerous just for its restraint.
Which describes Puerto Rico Flowers as well—music that goes for full-on goth, drawn-out and tortured in-the-key-of-basement darkwave songs. Likewise, this last bit of Clockcleaner not so much plods along but marches steadily, evenly stepping forward on measured bass heartbeats. Sharkey, as usual, sounds a bit like a lead-lunged, creepy version of Calvin Johnson. But it’s his guitar that really freezes into your brain, a cold and frequently beautiful slow-motion whipping or lashing. It’s a sound traded for synth on the PRF material, and something to be missed. On “Something on Her Mind,” Clockcleaner dips even some straight-up indie-rock atmosphere on the back of that guitar, glassy and delayed and breaking into a solo you’d even call “pretty.” Clockcleaner’s almost a world unto itself—as most cult bands are—and, oddly enough, this one short send-off EP might make for its easiest entry point.
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