Philadelphia quartet CLERIC presents sophomore album Retrocausal, its first new full-length in seven years. Retrocausal is set for a December 8th release on Web of Mimicry, the label owned by musician Trey Spruance of Mr. Bungle and Secret Chiefs 3. Stream new track “Ifrit,” from Retrocausal below!
Photo by Nick Shellenberger
“The music this Philadelphia four-piece plays is a kind of metal, the way Lost Highway is a kind of movie. It’s an elastic tissue of creepy electronic noise and barely-human screaming, impregnated with patches of riff-salad grind and hypercube mathcore.”
“Progressive, vitriolic and overwhelming… Raging grind gives way to plodding, cumbersome doom before opening the gates to ambient passages akin to the dark, cryptic atmosphere of Emperor.”
Founded in Philly in 2003, Cleric resides in the circle of bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan and Car Bomb – elite musicians playing avant-metal that wows on both a cerebral level and a gut level. Cleric‘s brand of metal is marked by dark, cinematic atmospheres and free jazz-informed forays, bursting through a base of highly technical, mathy shred. As a review in Chicago Reader phrased it, the sound is “a kind of metal, the way [David Lynch’s] Lost Highway is a kind of movie. It’s an elastic tissue of creepy electronic noise and barely-human screaming, impregnated with patches of riff-salad grind and hypercube mathcore.”
On Retrocausal, Cleric has pushed its style to new heights. Meshuggah-esque hypnosis, doomful synths, spastic skronking, and blastbeats weave together into highly unpredictable, kitchen-sink epics, many surpassing the 9-minute mark. An ominous vibe, straight off a movie screen, underlies everything; lurking in the shadows are mysterious samples and field recordings evoking deep sea and outer space.
Lineup: Nick Shellenberger – vocals, keyboards / Matt Hollenberg – guitar / Daniel Ephraim Kennedy – bass / Larry Kwartowitz – drums; Guests: Timba Harris – violin on “The Treme” / Mick Barr – guitar on “Soroboruo” / John Zorn – alto saxophone on “Grey Lodge”
None other than John Zorn is a fan and collaborator who lent his talents to Retrocausal. Elder statesman of musical freedom, a man whose massive body of work incorporates jazz, classical, metal, klezmer, film scores, and more, Zorn guests on Retrocausal’s closer, “Grey Lodge.” Cleric’s relationship with Zorn began in 2013 when he invited the band to work with him on his ongoing Masada project, and continued with his tapping guitarist Matt Hollenberg to join his band Simulacrum (along with John Medeski of Medeski, Martin, and Wood).
In addition to Zorn, Retrocausal features guest appearances by Mick Barr (Krallice, Orthrelm, Ocrilim) and Timba Harris (Secret Chiefs 3).
A concept album, Retrocausal is an adventure story set in a dystopian future. Cleric vocalist/keyboardist Nick Shellenberger explains: “Lyrically, Retrocausal opens a window into a bleak sci-fi landscape plagued by environmental fallout, in which corrupt governments send their citizens to die, and centers around one submarine crew that learns of their intended fate and chooses to pursue the beyond, despite the terrors that await. Told from different perspectives throughout the record, it’s a story of hope, fear, uncertainty, and constant struggle in the face of failure and death, and in search of something that may never be.”
The album was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Colin Marston (Gorguts, Dysrhythmia) at The Thousand Caves in Queens, New York.
The artwork was created by Cleric’s Nick Shellenberger.
Label boss Spruance states, “When we here at Web of Mimicry ran across Cleric’s music it almost seemed as if some kind of prophecy was being fulfilled. The music registered in our minds as a kind of missing link, like an inevitable stage in metal-oriented music that has needed to happen for a long time now.”
Nov 16 – New York, NY @ Village Vanguard (performing John Zorn’s Masada material)
Dec 3 – Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus – Retrocausal record release show