IN ALL the conversation surrounding Clipping, there's a recurring theme: The hiphop trio's producers, William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes, are also well-known experimental noise artists who enjoy taking drone, feedback, and static to eardrum-challenging extremes.
It's a helpful entry point for skeptical minds. And it's all the better to contextualize the fearless, fucked-up beats they concoct for Clipping—soundscapes that use everything from a REM-sleep-shattering alarm clock to cinder blocks cracking against the ground as part of the sonic palette. But this marriage isn't as unusual as it might seem—experimental musicians often rave about artists like Janet Jackson with the same zeal as they do Japanese noise maestro Merzbow.
"I don't know any noise artist that treats that music as a defense against popular culture," says Hutson, speaking via Skype from the band's home base of LA. "Even the most devoted noise musicians listen to everything and are pulling inspiration from everything."
In reality, the music on the trio's new full-length CLPPNG isn't too far removed from traditional hiphop. The slowly menacing "Tonight" could be a Hudson Mohawke outtake, and echoes of DJ Screw's audio LSD trails are evident in the molasses-thick "Dominoes."
The X factor in the project is really rapper Daveed Diggs. He spits out rhymes at a machine-gun clip and paints some truly creepy pictures: a hungry succubus ("Body and Blood"), a mentally unstable gent with an arson fetish ("Story 2"), and on "Tonight," a club that sounds like a revolting, Cronenberg-esque nightmare.
Impressively, people are responding to Clipping with enthusiasm rather than terror. CLPPNG found a home at Sub Pop, and reviews of the album have been overwhelmingly positive.
"We're cautiously excited about it all," says Diggs.
Snipes nods in agreement, adding, "All this time we were answering to no one except ourselves and our taste. For this to be suddenly succeeding means that all the sudden we're running this business. But the rule of the business is not to give a fuck about the customers."