Way Through: Clapper Is Still – album review
Way Through – Clapper Is Still (Upset The Rhythm).
Available from November 11th 2013
London based pastoral punks Way Through have a new album out featuring songs which focus on documenting the landscape of England. Louder Than War’s Craig Johnson has been spending time getting lost in their celebration of the English countryside.
Claire Titley and Christopher Tipton are the names behind both Upset The Rhythm and Way Through, the former being a record label and promoter, the latter being a self-penned pastoral punk band. We’re here to discuss the latter. The new album of theirs, Clapper Is Still, has been on repeat for a while and I’ve been trying let it get under my skin.
This is an album about location, in particular, an album about England. Looking at the album cover sends us in the right direction. Green fields, grey roads and a lonely, grazing pony are the sole focus. A very distinct image, wouldn’t you agree? The great outdoors. You can almost smell the manure. The CD version expands on this imagery with a booklet containing lyrics interspersed with images of rural British landscapes. Think old barns, withered trees, gentle streams and smiling faces. A world away from what we’re used to.
Musically, it’s both very basic and very complex. There are no overly fuzzy guitars, no big dynamic shifts and no focus on using complex time signatures. What we’re presented with is a very fragile piece of music, which reflects the delicate state of the subject matter. Guitar chords feel like they’re played with certain nonchalance, like the instruments could fall to the floor due to not having been gripped with enough force. For me, it feels like a reflection on the feelings of country life. Not particularly moved by modernisation, happy in a basic form, free of obstructions or confusion. I guess it can be sort of serene. Vocals are sometimes spoken, sometimes shouted and again it all feels very loose and laid back. The real depth here comes from both the lyrics and the background noises hidden in and around the guitar work. Using field recordings from throughout the country as a sort of base for the songs to build up from makes for a very deep listen. Throughout, we feel like we’re living in this landscape. Church bells ring out, wind rushes past our ears, streams trickle along and all the while the two band members sing songs of rural, melancholic landscapes. They manage to bring an almost forgotten land back to life with such passion. As the countryside is pushed further away and small villages become gentrified, it’s hard to find a true area of escapism, free from all the nonsense of daily life in the city. We forget about traditions and rituals that are such an important part of English heritage. Luckily though, Way Through bring them back to life and remind us just how beautiful things can be.
The real treat for me came on my second listen. Once you’ve taken it in and got an overall feel for the album, you get to join Claire and Chris on a trip through a desolate but beautiful land. Closing my eyes I could see myself there, sat in a quiet field listening to these two sings songs. It was a great thought. I suggest you listen to the record for yourself. Try to get lost in its rural surroundings, it’s refreshing.