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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Visitations

Posted on Thu, Jan 18, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Visitations
Label: Domino
Length: LP
Rated: NONE
Media: CD
Format: Album
WorkNameSort: Visitations

The time-tested order of the day on Clinic's fourth album is 'short and to the point.â?� Raucous organs, jangly, fuzzed-out guitar that's sometimes panned hard left ' Nuggets-style ' and the ubiquitous syllable-twisting sneer delivery from singer Ade Blackburn collide in just under 33 minutes. Visitations fires up with tribal rhythms and a stirring tempo that never really slows. It dons a surgical get-up, but Clinic doesn't dare disguise or filter anything on its welcome follow-up to 2004's Winchester Cathedral. And it hasn't changed much, either. Aside from Winchester Cathedral's damning, noisy psych-out called 'Vertical Take Off in Egypt,â?� Clinic's effort preceding Visitations hosts vicious tumblers that are indeed spacey, but are direct. Like Winchester Cathedral's leadoff track, Visitations begins with a floor tom'driven ruckus stomped out in double time toward the chorus, and in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it bridge, the guitars wind into even more perverse melodies than those which open the album. There's no noodling here, either. Clinic doesn't noodle. The band moves right into another verse, Blackburn ushering words through his front teeth, and the last few seconds blow sky-high: in an actual explosion sound effect. Christ, what a way to start your fourth album; it's as if Clinic is in a rush to prove they haven't lost any speed in their nearly 10-year stretch. 'Family,â?� with its gritty wails against Blackburn's autoharp at the song's finish, is a convincing argument that these guys aren't even close to slowing down.

Cuts like 'Harvest (Within You)â?� point to an early-garage, or more specifically the Leaves, blueprint: Brian Campbell's bouncing Motown bass line mopes around one or two notes for minutes at a time, while chiming organ and shakers peer out of one channel instead of stereo-spreading across the backdrop. It's dead on, but 'Harvest (Within You)â?� precedes a frustrated '80s skate punk'sounding 'Tuskâ?� that suits Clinic even better than the '60s stuff does, and there're even some cymbals in this one, not just floor toms. 'Tuskâ?� is pissed, short and to the point. The guitar solo, if you can call it that, is but a few notes long, and blatantly anti-rock. Blame it on the Clinic formula that's worked for years, and the fact that Gareth Jones, who was in the studio for their debut LP, Internal Wrangler, mixed Visitations. The fourth full-length one-ups the unbalanced Winchester Cathedral, and they didn't have to change much to improve, including album playback, as Visitations is nearly the same duration. How's that for consistent?

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