VISIONS OF BODIES BEING BURNED: ALBUM REVIEW
I was on a nighttime run the first time I popped the new Clipping album on. It was a terrifying experience. As I ran through Riverside park I saw a woman sitting on a bench, her face obscured by a shadow, but somehow her eyes still seemed to follow me. As I ran past, the vocalist in clipping, Daveed Diggs, rapped, “Blood on thе rust, God bless the red. Earth, the dead man walks the tongue bridge.” That was too much for me and I started sprinting away from that woman as fast as I could.
Pretty much every lyric on the album takes a similar approach. Clipping’s music has often been described as horrorcore, but I don’t think that description is apt. To me, Visions of Bodies Being Burned sounds more like Halloween-core -- more creepiness for the sake of perverted pleasure than to provide legitimate fear.
Clipping have always been experts at making unsettling bangers. They are a trio comprised of rapper, Daveed Diggs, and producers William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes. Over the course of the last few years, their careers have gone in directions that I am sure none of them could have imagined. You may recognize the name Daveed Diggs for his starring role in Hamilton, and both Snipes and Hutson have had successful ventures into the film scoring industry. Thankfully, even with all of their other exploits, they have kept making absolutely incredible music as a group.
Their newest project puts a slightly more menacing spin on their traditional sound. This does not mean that Visions of Bodies Being Burned is by any means conventional. The project feels like being locked in a cabin in the woods being forced to observe the shadows moving about in the world around you. Most instrumentals on the project feature little to no drums, with the music being carried by heavy bass hits or abstract rhythms.
The instrumentals on Visions of Bodies Being Burned are beautiful and haunting. A standout comes on “Eaten Alive” where pots and pans clank around in the background as Jeff parker and Ted Byrnes join the trio to add their own elements to the production. The production never feels stagnant. Each song uses vastly different instruments and I don’t think you ever hear the same drum sound twice. This variety makes the entire album feel fluid and ever-changing.
Every song on the project is filled with a deep sense of paranoia. It feels like every song is told from the perspective of a stalker. For example, the song “Check the Lock” is focused entirely on a man pacing in his home, constantly checking the locks on the door as he waits on his time to die. Diggs raps, “Gin bottle to the face, can't fool the G/ Laughing at him, he ain't ever scared, though. But he check the lock every time he walk by the door.” This posturing and paranoia constantly come up on the project.
Somehow, Clipping have mastered the art of terrifying rap music. If you can listen to this album all the way through without a shiver running down your spine, you might just be built different. Visions of Bodies Being Burned just further cements their name as a staple in experimental rap music and is the perfect album to celebrate Halloween.