Antic Clay
Hilarious Death Blues



by dwightfryed USER (27 Reviews)
August 1st, 2019 | 5 replies

Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: No laughing matter.

After two discs (21 tracks) of Antic Clay's (Aka lone performer Michael Bradley’s) low-voiced laments and dark acoustic exercises, my brain was a hollowed-out, dust-filled husk, every bit of organic material deadened and dried by hours of bellyaching psalms, droning waltz-time odes to sorrow, death and regret numbing every sense until eyes see only shades of grey, ears like deformed lumps of clay, brain struggling for balance, dehydrated and malnourished from hours in the musically vacant desert of Antic Clay’s sullen expression of endless minor-key disappointments.

This bulging collection of deep-voiced loping acoustic grief seems cut from the same cloth as Swans mellower moments (unsurprisingly, Bradley has done some work with Jarboe), but whereas Michael Gira would use this type of material as springboard to set up some kind of clubfooted, megadistorted eruption, demented choir melody or god-knows-what-else, Antic Clay is like a single acoustic intro that never seems to end, steeped in faux-gloom, like a hipster kid lamenting about a wasted trip to the shopping mall.

It’s not the instrumentation that’s lacking. Bradley splashes bits of color here and there like the violin in “Red Grass Black Pasture”, some whistling in “Undrown Yourself” and his harmonica which shrieks with the charm of an Irish tin whistle in a handful of tracks. He flirts with a galloping tempo in “On Holy Mountain”, and the vocal hooks in “Table of Souls” set up a creepy Danzig-like campfire mood. The confounding lack of drums is difficult to stomach at first, but the main issue that keeps the songs from springing to life is his voice. His unwavering Nick Cave-in-an-elevator-shaft tone and woeful undertaker delivery colors everything with the same sullen brush. Not profound. Not grizzled and worldy as Bradley would have you believe - just annoying in a high school poetry kinda way.

It’s not all bad. Some of the songs have a sort of pub-folk charm, like the merry pirate tankard-clanker “Roll Black Ocean” and the playful drinking anthem “Islay and Ale”, lyrics like I drink to the devil who summoned the gale building a sort of gothic tribal energy. But it’s hard not to imagine how a Fairport alumnus or bona fide country songwriter could fill in the blanks, and round these out to full and complete works without losing any of the dread or sadness.

The problem with this album is it’s black-on-black sameness. It stays in its dull comfort zone for an excruciatingly long time, preventing the listener from ever finding theirs. For you sorry sods grabbing the razorblades and hanging out in bathtubs because you couldn't get a decent wifi signal - there are better ways to spend your final moments.

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user ratings (3)

Comments:Add a Comment 
August 1st 2019


Album Rating: 2.5

Good morning Sputnik!

Tried to wring out as much positive as I could this time, hopefully ok.

August 3rd 2019


Album Rating: 4.0

I like many songs from the album so I disagree with the rating and with some of the words from the first part of the review.

And it's not normally the kind of music I like, but I somehow like this album, it's hard to explain but many of the songs are easy to listen to for me. After this album I discovered the band Myssouri, where Michael Bradley was also part of.

Digging: Alva Noto - Unitxt

August 3rd 2019


Album Rating: 2.5

Thank you, 100% approval does not fit me at all!

August 4th 2019


Album Rating: 4.0

You're welcome! And I read he will release a new album some day. I hope it will be good.

September 4th 2019


Album Rating: 4.0

I love ranking list so my favourite song ranking:

1. Look Down The Dark Barrel

2. Wainwright

3. Furnace Song

4. Violence Is Yours

5. Non-Prophet Blues

6. Sago Mine

7. Red Grass, Black Pasture

8. On Holy Mountain

9. Broken Throat Blues

10. Thousand Star Hotel

11. The Table Of Souls

12. Islay And Ale

13. Roll! Black Ocean!

all 21 are enjoyable but the 13 are my favourites. I wish the second album will come soon!

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