How does the weather relate to emotional states? How do tides of ocean and space effect terrestrial and astral beaches? How does the soul weather the seasons? Allen Clapp has been considering these questions for the entirety of his public musical life: first from behind the faders of a Tascam Porta-One four-track cassette recorder; now from the the retreat studio he built among the Redwoods in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
His newest release, Six Seasons, gives us a look into the vague shifts in the atmosphere, the social landscape, and the soul throughout a year. When these elements are out of alignment we get surprising results. “Moss Falls Like Rain” suggests something strange might be afoot; a recalibration may be necessary. “Friend Collector” confirms things are out of balance on the passive-aggressive social media spectrum, and “The Weight of Fallen Leaves” offers us a majestic, golden-robed ceremonial chant to the overwhelming magnificence (and sadness) of autumn. And these forces resonate with life affirming joy when they unite on “New Again.”
But we also get two extra seasons we didn’t even know about: Seasons 5 & 6. Ambient, electronic, earthy, and ethereal—are these the spaces in between summer and fall, winter and spring? There are regions of the globe that only experience two seasons, and some that count six. But the two additional entries Clapp gives us don’t even seem to describe terrestrial conditions. Maybe he doesn’t name them for a reason. Could it be the sounds and voices of the seasons themselves we’re meant to hear? We’re definitely receiving messages from something or someone as Clapp describes an entity equal parts here and gone, old and new, who then gives us a song to the sunrise that actually sounds like The Dawn of Time.
What we know for sure: it’s the strange and familiar sound of Clapp working his wizardry in the studio, holed up while on hiatus from his critically-acclaimed band The Orange Peels. Taking turns on drums, bass, guitars, grand piano, and a growing collection of vintage analog synthesizers from the 1970s (including prominently featured melodies from his Yamaha cs50, dreamy strings and brass courtesy of a Crumar Orchestrator, and unexpected sounds from a newly-acquired Hammond Aurora), Clapp creates new wave, soft rock, ambient, and electronic soundscapes with surprising ease while never coming across as anything other than authentic.
We don’t care how many seasons Clapp thinks there are. If he spends the rest of his life creating new ones, that would be fine with us, as long as they’re as compelling as these six—stately in their evocative vibrance.
Six Seasons is set for release November 11 on Mystery Lawn Music in conjunction with Minty Fresh and Redeye Distribution.
“If sunshine were audible, it would probably sound a lot like Allen Clapp’s music.”
—New Times Phoenix
“If the Zombies, the pillowy-billowy 60s baroque pop band, were instead actual zombies, the brain they would want to eat the most would be—no, the guy from the Shins is a good guess—Mr. Allen Clapp, whose midcentury modernist post-pastoral swoon-rock occasionally causes me to make noises surprisingly wimpy for a man of my machismo.”
—Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)
“The total effect is something like Todd Rundgren from his ‘Hello, It’s Me’ days with the Nazz and later solo ventures like ‘Something/Anything?’ It feels like a direction he’s always meant to take.”
—Jud Cost (Magnet Magazine)
“Allen Clapp believes in the curative powers of pop music the way someone going to Lourdes is betting on a miracle; his faith in the stuff is so strong and compelling pretty much anyone willing to give him a listen is likely to become a convert.”
—Mark Deming (All Music Guide)