|Album Rating: C+|
There’s a limit to this, however, as the rest of the album sees Clonki experiment with common hip-hop archetypes in what amounts to more of a plethora of attempted styles as opposed to one cohesive album. Clonki moves on to play around with a very upbeat, positively The Avalanches-esc vibe in “Ragpicker” and “My Baby:" juxtaposing this with dark, grimy low-end frequencies in an almost sinister attempt at corruption. It’s not entirely successful however, leading to the weakest parts in what is otherwise a surprisingly solid release; especially from an unknown artist so keen on standing out from the crowd. Saving grace can be found in the fact that these tracks are still rather interesting, though not nearly enough to merit much beyond the first listen.
Elsewhere, we see Clonki relaxing into an increasingly comfortable pace with a strong downtempo sound. “Blueswag” is an exercise in maturity as he picks his past experiments in style, boxes them in more tightly and ships them with a more mellow, complementary vibe. The shifts are still present, but their use is scaled back hugely to the point in which they’re only evident in the backing vocal hum and sporadically at most in the foreground piano. Throughout the final three tracks the energy seeps away further, to the point at which the finale, “Corpse,” seems stripped away completely; hitting that relaxing-but-still-progressive tempo with not much more than drums, bass and a light sprinkling of samples. It’s in these moments where Clonki is most promising, as I think it’s fair to say that up until these final few tracks he was still attempting to find his feet. In most cases this would lead to claims of ‘unfinished’ or ‘rushed,' but with little in the way of background information on the artist it’s nice that the album provides its own context.
Seize the Smoke is not a perfect release. Nor is it very close to that. But for what it’s worth the album does manage to distinguish itself in what’s an increasingly experimental market. Now that he has this niche, it will be interesting to see how Clonki develops his style and hopefully we can look forward to a new release in the near future.
3. My Baby
4. Morning Trip
5. 1212 Syndrome