cliffordandcalix is the duo of Mark Clifford and Chantal Passamonte. Both Warp artists, Clifford is best known as a founder member of Seefeel who have released records on Warp, Too Pure and Rephlex Records and who have recently reunited to record new material; Passamonte has released five albums for Warp Records in the guise of Mira Calix.
The pair have long been friends and, between 1999 and 2004, they occasionally got together to try out some musical ideas, committing them to a variety of now largely obsolete media such as DAT tapes, Zip disks and floppy disks with the intention of revisiting them for release at a later date. Busy schedules meant that they were unable to do any more work with what is essentially a set of works in progress. Andrea Parker heard the tracks and expressed an interest in releasing them in their unfinished state and the duo agreed.
Lost Foundling 1999-2004 features five tracks from 1999, all of which sit well as a collection of related tracks in their own right. Album opener “Someone Like Me”, “You and I” and the crashingly hypnotic “To Stay Changed Forever” are all undulating, slightly abrasive and static drenched, their dark qualities contrasted with Passamonte’s girlish half spoken vocal delivery that varies from unnerving to subtly seductive. “Mintle” is a short instrumental track that continues the theme and acts as an interlude between a brace of tracks from 2001 that close the album. The final track of the quintet, “Dream of You”, is a track of two halves; the first half features the distorted, slightly abrasive qualities of the other tracks from this period matched with Passamonte’s nursery rhyme style vocal mantra while the second half is smooth, rhythmic and entirely more relaxed with subtle dark undertones.
Embracing a different mood entirely is “Myrie”, a track from 2002 consisting of calming ambient tones and crisp rhythms with Passamonte’s voice slowed down and processed to the level of eerily spectral tones. A more disturbing prospect still 2004’s “Cket”; although only a short track it’s subtle electronic whirs and tiny sounds click and shuffle in the background as Passamonte’s processed, manipulated and ghostly voice becomes the centre of attention. The result is a wonderfully crafted track that is ultimately very eerie and quite unnerving.
Perhaps the most traditionally song-like track on the album is 2004’s “Beethaven” which sees Passamonte’s typically cool vocal matched with rolling ambient waves, occasional atmospheric bass strums and a discrete drone that slowly picks up towards the song’s close. Of the more rhythmic tracks, 2002’s “Pull It A Part 1” is dominated by slow deep bass tones while “He Promised It All” and “In Her Room” – both from 2001 – are relaxed tonal excursions backed by an obligatory buzzing electrical drone and Passamonte’s nonchalant and sometimes slightly out of tune vocal taking centre stage. The remaining tracks, “One 2 Far” (2001) and “Alkaline” (2000), see the former loop rolling processed bell-like tones with a layer of vinyl crackle and the latter combine a deep bassy drone with disembodied voices hidden deep within its fabric to form a tense air of expectant unease.
The fact that these tracks are in a raw format – a collection of demos, experiments or ideas – lends them a special quality. They have a certain lo-fi feeling as if they were recorded in one take, the idea being committed to tape/disc as it was intended with no post-production or fine-tuning. The impression this gives is one of two accomplished artists in their own right freely creating music and trying out ideas, being creative and generally experimenting with sound.
Published by Igloo Magazine [August 29th 2010]