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Clinic – Free Reign (Domino)

With Free Reign, you can expect a wallop with a heavy does of space-age freak out.

It has become custom that on every even year since 2000, you can expect Clinic to come out with new tunes that seem to extrapolate and warp the conventionalism of their previous album. And the Liverpool band does not disappoint with Free Reign.

Even though the band has formed this signature sound throughout their career, it’s uncanny just how fresh each album feels. It’s as if the band breaks new exploratory grounds, and how they do it with songs that has been done over and over is what makes this band incredible. With Free Reign, you can expect a wallop with a heavy does of space-age freak out.

“Misty” lies somewhere between the point when the drugs take affect and the come down. Mouth agape, the farfisa clouds the mind, and you just want to stare into this band’s metaphysics. And while the song brings back to light that aura of mystery, they expand this concept with “See Saw.” It’s a song that fits in there between Echo and the Bunnymen and a transcendental journey of confident art prowess.

In just two songs, the band knows how to pack it in because 10 minutes feels like an epic journey into the mind of the weird. So you can expect where a song like “Cosmic Radiation” would go. That’s right! Right down Trans Am’s alley. Strange sax and beach sex echoes, it’s Sky’s Gone Out-era Bauhaus set on fire.

Things start moving faster. Even though the time signatures don’t show it, the steady pace of tempo is suggestive in a contemplative way. “Miss You” would make Velvet Underground proud. “You” is more of the same although more experimental than other accessible creatures.

Not that “King Kong” is any more viable. It’s a song to be experienced in the atmospheric control of the band. They hypnotize you with their psychedelic ways. Strange oddities and sound manipulations make this into an exploitative retreat. The 1960s would be happy to have this song on their side, while 2012 is fresh on their mind to become an important continuum for the millennium.

All this while “Sun and the Moon” is a mind blower that burns down any conceptualization as to what this album is really about. It’s free jazz melted into a creepy ’60s freak fest. Sun Ra would find “Sun and the Moon,” interesting. Obviously not accessible like the other songs, it’s still worth seeking out for the interesting elements.

I’m not sure what the band was thinking when it came to the end of the album. “Sun and the Moon” is everything you would expect from shamanistic influences. It’s like a musical to your next out of body experience. And how do you put a finale to the song beyond simply just ending it? Yes, you get your fade out, but it’s nice to know the direction this band takes instead of spiraling outward into infinity.

Reign Free is an enlightenment only Clinic can properly churn out. It’s also an album that really is no different than the ideology of what Clinic has developed and controlled for the past 12 years. But it does prove they will be a favorite for time to come.

Andrew Duncan
Dug out from a pile of zines and hot sauce, Andrew Duncan has contributed to many publications through the years, including Chord and work with the ever so spunky Readyset...Aesthetic! He now resides deep within your membrane.

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