Release Date: Feb 17, 2017
Record label: Black Acre
Clap! Clap! (aka Cristiano Crisci) is an artist whose work is hard to pinpoint, in the best possible way. His sound can only be described as an explosive fusion of just about everything -- house, elements of electro, footwork, hip-hop, industrial, ambient, Middle Eastern influence, brass blowouts. The sounds are so varied and eclectic that they could easily seem messy when stacked, layered and combined, but Crisci makes them all fall beautifully and complement each other strikingly well. His latest album, A Thousand Skies, has a bit of a slower, upbeat start, meandering through ambient and unfurling with poppy synth number "Nguwe," featuring South African folk singer Bongeziwe Mabandla.
Take a cult Bristolian label and add an African influence from Italian musician Clap! Clap!, and we might just have the best fusion record to kick of 2017 so far. Returning to Black Acre after his Gilles Peterson-approved 'Tayi Bebba' LP, Clap! Clap! is now on "the search for new flavours". Throat-driven chants seep through native percussions on 'Discessus', and 'Nguwe' feels like a Gqom-on-speed ticket to the tropics, glitches stabbing through Bongeziwe Mabandla's vocals.
Italian producer Cristiano Crisci's second album as Clap! Clap! finds him continuing to combine electronic textures with West African sounds and influences. A Thousand Skies is nominally a concept album, with a story about a young girl traveling mystically through space. Song titles like "Betelgeuse's Endless Bamboo Oceans" and "Ode to the Pleiades" show Crisci's commitment to the idea.
Alternate realities and mythology form the basis of Clap! Clap!'s 'A Thousands Skies' - its song titles make reference to additional signs of the zodiac ('Ophiuchus') and the stars in the constellations ('Betelgeuse'). The colourful Italian producer Digi G'Alessio behind Clap! Clap! similarly draws on his inspiration from African music, as before on 'Tayi Bebba' (2014). This time he introduces collaborations with South African artists: Bongeziwe Mabandla, a folk singer who features in 'Nguwe', and Planet Mu band John Wizards who accompany 'A Thousand Skies Under Cepheus' Erudite (Eyes)' showing Alessio's indisputable interest and appreciation for the source of contemporary afro sounds he experiments with.