Damocles – The Clear Sound Album Review

Damocles is Ben Hopkins, an experimental electronic producer from Atlanta, Georgia. Damocles has just released their newest album, The Clear Sound.

The Clear Sound is a diverse record which really expresses how wide a genre electronica can be. The start track Mountain Prose is dark and entrancing but it doesn’t set a good example of what can be heard on the rest of the record. It’s quite a bass heavy track in comparison to most of the album which is more serene, perhaps even meditative.

There are some real gems on The Clear Sound. Earth Day is an awesome song with a tinny drum beat blended well with melodic synths – synths that sound like a choir singing notes from hymns. At times it is the drum beat that is dominant and at others, it is the synths. This to-ing and fro-ing gives this track a great dynamic.


Damocles The Clear Sound artwork

Penance is a soft song with distant, undisperhable vocals which sound almost like cries. It’s an atmospheric song that allows you to calm down and feel relaxed despite it’s fast tempo and chaotic drum beat. At My Window is another soft song with its soothing piano melody, strong bass and drum beat and swooping vocals. This track has a lot of Bonobo influences in it – the way the song has that crackled, old record player sound, the melodic, non-sensical vocals and the punctuated piano notes.

Cheer You Up is quite a stand out track on The Clear Sound. The African inspired tribal drum beats heard are accompanied by modern synth noises. It’s a song that shows great diversity. There appears to be an emptiest in this track – like it’s being heard from a distance – it’s the echo of the snare drum that creates the space and expansion in this song. Again, a lot of Bonobo’s techniques can be heard here. It’s only towards the end when the deeper bass and synth sounds come into play adding that something extra to an already unique track.

Defeated is up tempo with a dance beat making it easily accessible to many yet it has another layer to it creating pleasant sounds that rise and fall lending it to be relaxing, juxtaposing the more dance inspired part of the song. It gradually builds introducing many more layers and noises, making it incredibly interesting as all these instruments and noises interchange and compliment and contrast each other all at the same time.

Having No Ghosts has an underground club sound – almost dub step inspired. Its gentle melody originating from the synths make this song memorable despite the heavy bass most commonly heard in club classics. On the other hand, Broach has really calming synths and a soft drum beat that are complimented by the spacious sounds created by the bass and distortion used.

Hopkins has created a sound that has taken influences from the 90s rave scene but he’s slowed it down, made it more senate and especially trance-like. It’s less heavy than your typical rave music but there are definitely influences from that period in there. Damocles has created music that could easily fit in with the atmosphere found in quirky, lounge cafes – it’s music you can relax to, switch off to but just as easily it’s music that could be found in cocktail bars or sophisticated, upmarket bars. It’s music you can dance to in the right environment. It’s got dynamic and versatility lending The Clear Sound to be a record that’s incredibly easy to recommend.


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