New Music
09.08.2009, Words by Ruth Saxelby

Clock Opera: "I’ve always liked chopping things up."

My initial attempt to synchronise watches with Guy Connelly of CLOCK OPERA happened before their gig at Notting Hill Art Club’s YoYo night. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be, blame TFL. When I catch up with Guy on the phone a couple of days later he’s still buzzing. “It was a great turn out and a really good gig for us to play so early on, it was only our fifth gig!” All this sets us up nicely for a slightly laboured analogy of what CLOCK OPERA’s music is about; not exactly time per se but a kind of breakdown of it.

Apparently it’s about decomposing noises, sounds and lyrics into their component parts and reassembling them in a magic box (sometimes called a computer). If all this sounds a bit high brow, rest assured that the result is the best kind of pop music: immediate, arresting but with enough going on to make you want a second listen. Guy calls the breaking down ‘chopping’ and he’s coined a neat term for it: chop pop. “I’ve always been interested in chopping things up, mainly electronics and just combining song writing with weird noises,” he explains.

This combination of songs and weird noises sounds very here and now. There are elements of big room ARCADE FIRE and BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE as well as the quirkier sonic language of ANIMAL COLLECTIVE or Brooklyn’s DIRTY PROJECTORS but it also references another time. You guessed it: the 80s, especially good-era HUMAN LEAGUE, JAPAN and TALKING HEADS. Cold synths, white noise, plenty of reverb and Guy’s vocal delivery all reference the above like a Polaroid snapshot taken then and digitised for the noughties. Guy is unfazed by the 80s thing. “Well, it’s not exactly Phil Collins. I didn’t sit down and think ‘I’ll make some 80s music today’ but if it had to sound like a decade it would be that one.”

There are also references to PHILIP GLASS and STEVE REICH. Not so much sonically but mainly in the use of repetition and a certain kind of maximal minimalism: it’s a big sound but one carefully crafted in minute detail. But for all this musical talk it turns out Guy’s biggest influences come from elsewhere. “I don’t get inspired by music, I respond to other art forms. You see a film or read a book and you can take an idea and filter it into something different, in your own medium.”

Before Clock Opera (the name comes from a symphony for pocket watches that he once read about), Guy was in a couple of other bands that flirted with success – The Corrections and Fall Out Trust – before branching out alone. Well, not quite alone. There are three further members who play a vital role in the project, especially live: Che, Nick and Andy, the limelight is now yours to share. The band are in that exciting time when the ideas can’t come out fast enough, so expect to hear a lot more from them soon. Currently unsigned, you’ve got two choices on how to listen: myspace or live. You know what to do, just don’t rely on TFL to get you there.

Check their myspace for upcoming gigs and release details.

Clock Opera’s myspace

Holy Fuck are another band who love the alchemy of combining sounds. Have a read/listen here.

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