Clock Opera
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Clock Opera

London, England, United Kingdom | MAJOR

London, England, United Kingdom | MAJOR
Band EDM Rock





The background: As our humble tribute, we were going to make it a rule that, starting today, every new band for the next 50 days would have to be as magical and magnificent, as sublime and transcendent, as Michael Jackson, but that would be ridiculous, if not impossible. Besides, there's Michael Jackson, and there's Michael Jackson, with Billie Jean and Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough at one end of the MJ value scale, and Heal The World and You Are Not Alone at the other. If we were going to use that measuring system, on the MJ gauge today's new band would be a notch or two below Smooth Criminal but a couple above P.Y.T. Averagely extraordinary, in layman's terms.

They're almost as eccentric as Jackson-as-Jacko. Not that they sleep in hermetically sealed tents and hang around with hominoids, just that their approach to music-making is rather unusual. And they do remind us of how much we wished Michael had chosen Aphex Twin or Squarepusher to be his production accomplices towards the end of his life instead of Will.I.Am. We say "they", but Clock Opera is really a he: Guy Connelly, who used to be in bands called The Corrections and The Fall Out Trust and now cuts and dices found sounds and instrumental segments with psychotic finesse. What you imagine to be harp glissandos on one of his standout tracks, Alouette, are actually the noises made by five guitars, "chopped into smithereens and fiddled with sonically and in terms of pitch and rhythm," as Connelly told us. No wonder he calls what he does "chop pop" – he literally chops up sounds to create songs out of bits. He might just as well call it "bash pop", though – because he gets a lot of his percussive effects by rattling whatever happens to be lying around on his desk, by whacking an assortment of metal objects that he's come across in skips such as cheese graters and old car batteries, or by wandering round his house slamming the cutlery draw or banging the barbecue. Not literally achieving sexual congress with the barbecue – even Michael Jackson didn't go that far.

He chops up his lyrics as well: he finds a story then cuts up the words and reassembles them in a random order that occasionally will make a strange sort of sense after several readings. Man Made, for example, came from an article in a magazine about a beauty pageant in a women's prison in Siberia where one girl from each block got dolled up and played for the chance of parole. And White Noise was a personal reminiscence of the time Connelly was walking down London's Whitechapel Road when a riderless motorbike came careening towards him and nearly sliced him in half. Gives a whole new meaning to his "chop pop" thing, that does.

So why Clock Opera? Because Connelly's into "pocket symphonies with a mechanical, repetitious feel" and singing in a high-pitched voice over the top (very over-the-top). He and his band have only played two shows but already the A&R fraternity are circling, which is encouraging, because this is hardly Black Eyed Peas, although it is pop music, if groups as out-there and experimental as Associates and Animal Collective can be counted as "pop", or if the ravishing "systems music" of Philip Glass and Steve Reich could be called such. Connelly has done remixes for Yeasayer and Bloc Party, he has written scores for the Rambert dance company so you know we're not exactly dealing with the new Pigeon Detectives here, and he is working on his debut album with Graham Stewart, engineer on Radiohead's Kid A and Amnesiac, which also augurs well. Oh, and he happens to believe that Michael Jackson will be appearing very soon at the 02 in white robes, with white hair and white face, reborn. Should be a good gig.

The buzz: "Frenetic, bleep-ridden synth-rock."

The truth: Warbled vocals over repetitively rhythmic music that isn't techno, house or any variant thereof – we'd sign them if we had a label.

Most likely to: Be described as "Aled Jones singing with Autechre."

Least likely to: Work with Quincy Jones.

What to buy: Currently unsigned, you can hear Clock Opera at their MySpace.

File next to: Archangel, Associates, Animal Collective, La Monte Young - Paul Lester

""Whats on the NME stereo""

We think we are in love with this London chap, who terms their minimal, graceful sample'n'stitch ballads 'chop pop'. This track, out soon on Puregroove, is chillingly lovely. The sweet, scratchy synths and sense of twilit romanticism reminds us of folktronica hero Adem, but with some of the grandeur of '80s synth balladeers like The Blue Nile or Japan. And then just when you're settling into its pale prettiness, a great big whacking chorus out of nowhere. The B-side, 'Alouette' is just as brilliant. - NME (04/11/09)


‘Chop pop’ pioneers Clock Opera born in the bedroom of ex-The Corrections and The Fallout Trust guitarist Guy Connelly are, quite simply, awesome. Creating dramatic electronic tracks that sit somewhere between Four Tet and Autechre whilst sustaining a radio friendly pop sensibility, Guy quite literally chops sounds from guitars “and random bits of metal” to reassemble them into wonderfully orchestrated aural soundscapes. Think Lo Recordings remix project consisting of Thom Yorke, Steve Reich a choir treble and glissandos and you’ll be close. Forever the holist, Guy has also taken to chopping his lyrics – borrowing them stories and stitching them back together in a random order. No wonder The Guardian is noted as saying “we’d sign them if we had a label”. An accolade indeed - slicing and dicing have never sounded quite so good. - Dazed Digital

"NME: "10 tracks you have to hear this week"" - NME


06/11 > Belongings (Moshi Moshi Records) [SINGLE]
10/11 > Lesson No. 7 (Moshi Moshi/Island Records UK) [SINGLE]
01/12 > Once And For All (Island Records UK) [SINGLE]




Clock Opera, I remember thinking, have this wonderful tendency to sound like their music combines real memories and made up memories, strong memories and shredded memories, and some sense of the mental and physical reality of a classic surprising pop song. They begin a piece of music with exquisite care and end it, just like that, with battle commencing in between, and a dynamic round the bend sense of time. Sound like a group I never remember hearing who decided to imagine what would happen if they sounded like an original pop group whose members consisted of Steve Reich, Scott Walker, Peter Gabriel, Flo and Eddie and To Rococo Rot. That good.

Fragmented and splintered samples, glowing edits, colliding rhythms, forgotten dreams, digital collage, disintegrating intervals, merging tenses and cut up words. The album is full of romance and recollections, re-enactments and speculations, memory and mystery, machine generated mood and human thought. They make a pop music that suggests at the same time that when it comes to pop music we’ve heard it all before and yet, quite simply, because of various machines, random inventions, social pressures, cultural urges, creative surges, networking ease and personal, shared and electronic memory connected with a continuing sense of anticipation, we ain’t heard nothing yet.

Their name fits. It juxtaposes one thing with another, just like their music and their lyrics, which lead to all sorts of sonic, literal and conceptual reverberations. 

Clock, because of the way their music follows strict inescapable patterns on the outside and inside of time, moves clockwise, and sometimes anti-clockwise, tick tocks from second to second, leaps from minute to minute, with minutes to go, always there, mysterious, persistent, biological, atomic, body, face, alarm, the circular band ever present in between the past and future.  Analogue and digital.  

Opera, because of the grand drama, the fearless theatre, the epic, crushing sparkle, the crazy scenery, the concrete stylistic niceties, the way their songs tell their stories, which go all the way from foamy soap to fierce teeming space. 

Clock : duration, organic precision, cutting the day up into small portions. 
Opera : elaborate structures, no half measures, divorced from but dependent on reality, featuring emotional fanatics and representing passions and emotions as morally significant. 

Clock Opera: Machine and human, time and intensity, menace and opulence, real and unreal, fixed in flux.  Wound up, rewinding, fast forwarding, and compelling people to fall in love with the colour of life.

I remember writing about Clock Opera and ending the piece by noting how Clock Opera seem determined in their own special cut-up way to remind listeners even in a world over- filled with too much cynical, contrived and complacent pop music how positively amazing pop music can be, as an entertainment that can actively change perceptions. I remember thinking, I wonder if it is ok to describe them as an eclectic four piece avant pop group.  I remember deciding it was a good place to start.