CLEAN More Or Less The Truth (Sugarshack)
"You're not from Bristol!" was my first reaction on listening to Clean's debut album. And, unlike just about every other band on Sugarshack, they aren't originally, it least. Clean are Swiss, but frustrated at failing to convert their underground following there into overground success they moved to Bristol, apparently because of an overwhelming desire to see what a town called Portishead would be like.
Clean's sound begins as standard issue modern guitar rock, but then gets freckled with dialogue samples and turntable dexterity. In places they remind me of dEUS, albeit without their occasionally glorious melodic gift and penchant for worshipping all things Beefheartian. In places "More Or Less The Truth" is quite enjoyable: "Right Now" drops samples from Dr. Dre's fabulous "Let Me Ride" and seashore soundtracks into an agreeably pleasant song. "Hilliard" sends some skittery beats trampling across samples of choral music, not to the same devastating effect as Orbital managed with the sublime "Belfast", but Clean earn points for effort, at least. "Cleaner" sounds like a hamfisted but heartfelt tribute to Portishead the band, the slow, melancholy keyboards and dialogue scratches being strongly reminiscent of their second album in particular. "Game" is probably Clean's most successful song, a sitar-plucking thing on which the formula works to its best advantage. The eerie instrumental coda to "Strange Journey" is worth investigation, too, sounding like nothing other than Jefferson Airplane's "Meadowlands" being broadcast at a Hell's Angels meeting, the result being observed from a great distance away, underwater, before being interrupted by some bizarre plastic organ jauntiness.
"More Or Less The Truth" might not be a fabulous album: Clean are too obviously in thrall to their influences, and the seams that hold their quirky ragbag of styles together are clearly apparent. But at least half of it is interesting, and if they can outpace the shadow of the bands that have inspired them and evolve a sound that is truly their own they might really be worth listening to.