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|The Separation of Church
CD Album 2003 | Silber 023
9 tracks, 48 minutes
$12 ($18 international, $5 download (256 kbps, ~85 megs))
: More info
Clang Quartet is Scotty Irving,
a weirdly inventive and disturbing noisemaker that excels in found sounds
and creating unsettling, experimental lo-fi music. In the name of the Lord,
no less. And while the incessant preaching of tracks like "Hadephobia"
and the title track are musically unimpressive, theologically banal and
overlong, there is more than enough good stuff on here to make this a worthwhile
and engaging listen.
Irving's thing is rhythm: he plays loads of instruments on here, most notably "The Crutch" -- apparently "a work-in-progress that features a variety of sound sources on a crutch" -- but they are all used to create different tonalities and layers of rhythm and skips. Not in a Stomp sort of way, thank God, but with a dark, disturbed Captain Beefheart-goes-to-Christian-art-school sort of approach.
Sometimes too unmotivated to ever matter beyond the first curious listen, Irving also has problems knowing when to stop -- far too often the songs drag on for too long. But tracks like "Amazing Disgrace," "The Winds & the Sea Obey Him," and the disturbingly loopy "Companions" drive home the point: While this is a potentially over-the-top, sanctimonious affair, The Separation of Church & Hate eventually proves to be well worth revisiting and closer inspections.
~ Stein Haukland, Ink 19
Clang Quartet is the one-man
project of drummer Scott Irving, and The Separation of Church &
Hate is a recorded version of Irving's now-infamous live show and performance
art piece that merges the disparate worlds of experimental noise and true-blue
Christianity. Irving plays his home-designed percussion megalith called
"the Crutch" (a jumble of saw blade, broken cymbal, office stapler, and
various other noisemakers) while hopping around in spiritual rapture and,
all the while, drawing directly on events in the life of Christ.
This could be a genuinely fascinating, groundbreaking mix of influences, and the best tracks on The Separation of Church & Hate prove that religious conviction and the experiments of Irving's heroes (Throbbing Gristle, This Heat) can coexist with surprising fluidity. "The Winds & the Sea Obey Him" is a dynamic explosion of rapturous-sounding white noise and industrial clatter; "Amazing Grace" adds acoustic guitar and various synth layers until it reaches a searing climax; "Under God" and "Companions" exude dynamic chatter between staticky vocal samples and rhythmic noises from "the Crutch" that sounds like a spiritually heated conversation. Unfortunately, the rest of The Separation of Church & Hate takes continuous vocal samples from a southern Baptist convention and strings them across minimal backgrounds of percussion and crunchy ambience -- all sounding like a mediocre, white-trashy sermon filtered through an AM radio receiver or two.
Even with these few missteps, Irving has at least succeeded in transcending the myopic rules of a majority of his religious brethren, crafting an occasionally intense, consistently experimental album. The Separation of Church & State is an anomaly -- a genuine headtrip for believers and unbelievers alike.
~ Matt Pierce, Splendid
Silber records is not a label
that attracts the mass media and you only need to hear one of their artists
style to understand that. There roster consists of beyond left field artists
such as the Clang Quartet. There is one man behind this project and his
name is Scotty Irving. The Separation of Church and Hate is his
sophomore release diving into the field of religion. I don't know how to
break it down, but the best description I can give to you is layers of
rhythms close to a poorman's techno. Majority of the tracks have spoken
messages that are done up like speeches or a newscast reports over the
abstract music. Tracks like "The Infidel Within" wages through the controversy
of the rumor that Satan is in business with the company Proctor and Gamble.
This rumor actually still exists today. It was something that started by
a rival that said profits of Proctor and Gamble go to the Church of Satan.
It also speaks that Christians are easily mislead due to their lack of
thinking for themselves. I don't think Scotty gives his stand on this,
but throws both sides into the ring for the listener to decide. Other topics
that he dives into are racial prejudices, and decay of society. This is
a cd not for your average listener, but the oddball thinkers are ones who
are exhausted of any sort of melody. There are splashes of guitar, keyboards,
bass that appear, but don't really stand out as they take a backseat to
the beats and some whacked out effects.
Not my cup of tea, but I know this would go down easy for the one or two of you out there.
~ Kristian Anderson, Reader Weekly
Scotty Irving embraces controversy
and his second solo album as the Clang Quartet is as disturbing and uncomfortable
as can be. Both leftfield music fans and Christians will agree. His sound
constructions include drum machines, percussion (after all, he is a percussionist
and most of the music is rhythmic in essence), noise generated on a self-made
instrument called "The Crutch," occasional rhythm guitars and one-finger
keyboard melodies. Tracks like "Companions" and "Under God" pair harsh
noise and free improvisation. The avant-garde music fan will find them
interesting, especially "The Winds & The Sea Obey Him," which throws
together two different performances in the left and right speaker -- it
sounds like a battle of the bands between two incarnations of the Nihilist
Spasm Band. Elsewhere one thinks of Monty Cantsin (megaphone Industrial
poet extraordinaire) jamming with Helgoland. But what strikes most about
Clang Quartet is Irving¹s televangelist-inspired rants. An affirmed
Christian, he tackles religious issues like: the rumors that the company
Proctor & Gamble had ties to satanism ("The Infidel Within"), the existence
of Hell ("Hadephobia"), racism and peer pressure ("The Separation of Church
& Hate"). Hearing these topics in the context of so-called experimental
music is very unusual and disturbing. Again, this reviewer doesn¹t
think religion can¹t have a place in avant-garde music, but one is
tempted to interpret Irving¹s speeches as satire (in the vein of Rhythm
Activism) or hoax. And the way he weaves excerpts from a news feature on
one of his concerts into "Two or More Gathered in HIS Name Part 2" pushes
self-indulgence to a new limit. Be warned.
~ François Couture, All-Music Guide