Visions of Bodies Being Burned
2020 – Experimental / Hip Hop
On their fourth album, the experimental group of Hip Hop, clipping., takes all their characteristics and ambitions to a higher level, delivering a responsible, unique and visceral project.
Throughout the history of Cinema, it has been proven that successors of horror films were rarely as good as the first ones. The vast majority of these movies, which were only released with profit in mind, told the same story over and over, without innovation, with a weak story, actors with questionable skills and a plot that often made no sense due to the immense number of holes in the script. Unlike what usually happens in movies, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, the fourth album by the experimental Hip-Hop group clipping. and the follower-up to the horror-based 2019’s There Existed an Addiction to Blood, is a grandiose, immersive and representative experimentation of what a conscious and political horror film would be. Their best work so far.
Using horror stories and tales, bizarre and disgusting sound elements and a violent and vicious sonority — something not so new for the group, in fact —, Visions of Bodies Being Burned arrives as a great album, which is free, without strings attached and that can express itself in a way that no other album has done. Intelligently relating horror stories and violent death and blood scenes with political, social and economic elements, the album works several critical and important subjects with lyrics that make a very impressive assimilation between the current context and horror movies and an unobstructed sound that manages to transmit the anger, sadness and fear that people feel in the midst of this situation. In a nutshell, Visions of Bodies Being Burned is a stripped down, original and frighteningly faithful representation of world society. They couldn’t have done it better.
One of the most impressive things about Visions of Bodies Being Burned is how they chose this concept and were able to work it well, giving depth to it and never creating tracks that would come out of all this sound-lyric aesthetic. Over almost an hour, the album features explicit scenes of death, violence and blood; grotesque sound elements that in one hour make you appear to be in a disgusting house full of dead bodies and in another that you are in a kind of Satanic ritual; and restless synthesizers that, at various times, scream with total violence into the listener’s ear. It is not necessarily beautiful, but it is necessarily real, free and without barriers. Perhaps, the only problem with this may be that the only way to get the full experience is to listen to the entire album at once since some tracks, if you listen to them alone, seem a little lost. However, this is not a difficult task since Visions of Bodies Being Burned is cohesive, coherent, fluid, without tangles and really hypnotizing.
The opener, “Intro,” really looks like the beginning of a horror movie, with pounding synthesizers, rat noises, wood crackling, chains swaying and the rapper Daveed singing as if he were inside a TV leaning against the corner of a room. As said before, throughout the album they support this horror film that they created in the first track. Even more impressive is that is a totally diverse horror film that addresses serial killers, ghosts and demons. While some songs feature sounds of a Satanic cult, flies around the environment and knives cutting something (probably meat), some tracks totally dedicate their time to further increase the depth of the album. While in “Wytchboard (interlude)” we see two girls playing with an Ouija board, on which is written, “HE IS HERE,” in “Invocation (interlude)” we see an extremely high and really annoying sound frequency and in “Drove (interlude)” we hear noises of sheep and a running car, which can be painted for some as the scene of someone burying a body in a field. They didn’t have any limits here.
However, even though the entire production of Visions of Bodies Being Burned is incredible and totally free, the strongest point is the fact that they managed to transmit all this aesthetics and horror stories to the problems of society. “Say the Name,” which features demonic voices saying an almost satanic prayer — “Candlesticks in the dark, visions of bodies being burned” —, works around the urban legend of Candyman, a black man who had a child with a white woman and was lynched by her father. Although the track is all gloomy with turbulent and disturbed synthesizers, the song ended up being incredibly catchy. On the same hand, “’96 Neve Campbell” uses the Final Girl theory to talk about feminism: instead of the girl, which is a metaphor for all women, being a helpless and fearful person, she is strong. He sings alongside Cam & China, “This bitch run shit so you best run/This bitch no play, this bitch know guns/This bitch no die, you this bitch son.” In addition to these very well constructed references, both lyrics are very well written with extremely vivid scenes.
Furthermore, just as the Visions of Bodies Being Burned film mixes different styles and types of horror films, the album brings together social and political criticisms of all kinds, which is done fantastically. “Something Underneath,” which is undoubtedly hard to keep up with since Daveed Diggs is singing faster than he ever did, turns classic zombies into environmental and climatic tragedies that seem to be trying to get rid of humans, which are the biggest cause of all the planet’s problems. This specific track is already tireless at the beginning, but with time it gets more and more intense and frantic. Likewise, while “Check the Lock” talks about a dealer who is paranoid, afraid that at any time someone can find out and get him arrested or killed, “Body for the Pile” is probably the most explicit of the entire album, accurately describing the violent, bloody and vicious deaths of three police officers. Everything here is scary.
And even those songs that end up disappointing in some aspect end up compensating a lot in other parts. One of the best examples of this is “Make Them Dead,” which has a very weak lyrics next to all the other songs, however, it has these extremely noisy and uncomfortable synths that really match some of the lines of the lyrics. “She Bad,” in spite of having a very weak lyrics, full of luxuries to try to reach some kind of feminist criticism, has a great sound experience and atmosphere, making you feel that you are in a macabre and haunted forest. Meanwhile, “Pain Everyday” features a troubled drama orchestra and “Looking Like Meat” with impressive vocals that act relentlessly. Sad that last two tracks have forgettable lyrics.
In the same way that Visions of Bodies Being Burned begins as an alternative and extremely terrifying horror film, it finishes. “Eaten Alive,” with Jeff Parker & Ted Byrnes, is one of the best on the album thanks to these synthesizers that create those sounds of creaking doors, satanic instruments, murmurs in the dark, metal beats and several others that make it look like we’re invoking an evil entity. “Eaten Alive,” in turn, beyond being extremely catchy, is one of the more curious since when a synthetic voice sings, “Get your ass down to the floor,” you can feel a heavy fog hitting you — almost as if it was the breath of this demon. And like most of the film that ends with a blue sky and birds, the final track, “Secret Piece,” we heard faint white noise and some birds. However, at the last second, something doesn’t seem quite right. What should we expect?