Clubroot ClubrootII : MMX
First came “Untrue” (2007), and the impact was so intense, such a transformation of body and spirit, that for twelve long months, absolutely nothing happened. Music as a whole was petrified by surprise and admiration. Burial’s second LP was different from anything else—in the expressive handling of the voices, in the cadence of the rhythms, in the trembling caused by their post-rave melancholy textures. So much so, that we could guess that they would have to influence the world of electronic production somehow, and possibly that of pop– but it was hard to know how, in what way. It was simply that this revolution needed time to settle into people’s hearts in order to finally germinate into a creative seed. Burial’s distilling of garage and dubstep with a touch of the angels wasn’t a formula for success that could be chewed up and spit out, as might occur, for example, with a Lady Gaga single. It took time to assimilate, and that time passed, and during 2008 until almost the end of the year, and the beginning of the next, when the influences of Burial started to be seen in albums from Pangaea, Phaeleh or Pariah. And then came Clubroot, without previous warning.
Therefore, with Clubroot there were two possibilities: you might really detest it for jumping on the “Burial aesthetic” bandwagon without hesitating, or you might ask for an address to send them flowers at home. “Clubroot” (Lo Dubs, 2009) was like Burial’s album, (continuing on in the same vein, to be more precise) that William Bevan has been brewing in his den for the last three years. And when you are a junkie, you know this: if you don’t get what your body needs in the usual places, you look for it somewhere else. In any case, let it be said straight off that Clubroot never seemed to us like an obscene imitator, but rather a profound admirer of the Burial sound—also from the first album, with hardly any voices and with an almost defeated tone, more like the dark of the night, without satisfaction, with your eyelids dropping shut—all of which had redefined tossing and turning, the pain of the soul, and post-rave culture. You can tell that they admire Burial’s work very much because they don’t hide it at all: they wanted to be Burial for times when Burial is lacking. Somebody had to do it.
And here we are in 2010 and there is still no Burial, except the interrupted interlude of “Fostercare,” but we have a new serving of Dan Richmond just like we want him: crepuscular, expansive, exciting almost to the point of caricature, as if we had express- ordered him to be like that. There is no other hidden rhetoric in his second album, the title cuts to the chase, “II : MMX” – the second part, and the year written in Roman numerals, to make it more solemn. The cover is like that too—it speaks of romantic nature, a boundless emotional storm, rain in your face, wind in your hair, of an unequal battle with the universe. Yes, an epic. An epic that isn’t there in Burial, because Clubroot has finally found its place: to be a version of its model, enlarged and exaggerated, without losing its identity, manners, or course. That is why he sounds more fibrous, with the sound in higher decibels, more swollen, to the point that it doesn’t caress, but rather heavily cloaks you, like when the sea is all around you pressing in, at the moment when you dive underwater. If Burial is the thin, cold liquid of frost, Clubroot is the mass of wild sea water, or a torrential rain that soaks you to the skin. He wants to create a dome of isolation around the listener and invade his senses by pressuring the foci of perception to the limit. If we go back to the junkie example, it’s a change of dealer, switching to the one who offers the strongest stuff, and not necessarily the best or the healthiest.
“II : MMX” implies another change with respect to the previous album—here a factor that distinguishes Burial from Clubroot is accentuated, which is rave psychedelics. If Burial makes subtle references to musicians like Todd Edwards or Omni Trio, Clubroot makes them to that absorbing, coastal house that defined the radiant version of dance music in the mid-90’s, the one that seemed to shine with a pale intensity, seeming to reproduce the point of extra perception that comes with taking ecstasy. If names like Rabbit In The Moon, the lost cyberdelics of Miami, or Scott Hardkiss (alias God Within) don’t ring a bell to you, start looking for the albums. The way that the synthesisers cascade in the opening of “Orbiting” or in “Toe To Toe” describes the experience of being outside oneself, like what the aforementioned Rabbit In The Moon called the legendary “Out Of Body Experience,” an album Sasha pounded in the golden age of ambient house. If those progressive DJ’s spun dubstep today, Clubroot would be their lead producer; as far as having goes, they have a few ugly elements (whistled notes), and populist concessions, like what seems to be a sample of the soundtrack from “Gladiator” in “Sjambok;” we also hear Lisa Gerrard’s voice used in “Waterways.” But these few almost new-age moments don’t detract from the whole: “II : MMX” is an album of unusual intensity, which should be listened to in the dark, with headphones, at a crazy volume, because that’s the only way that it will enter as it should, not through the ears, but through your pores. Clubroot should be judged only by whether it achieves its goal or fails, and yes, this album triumphs, it penetrates deeply, passing through the body—it gives that desired feeling of metaphysical projection towards the infinite. There were certain expectations, and the album has more than met them. Look out for the irremediable final section: “Dust Storm,” “Closure,” “Cherubs Cry.” Javier Blánquez