Clown Core is an unholy fusion of dark industrial electronic beats, jazz and metalcore and clown horns. Sounds like a joke doesn’t it? Being clowns, the band doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously either. The album Toilet, just shy of 14 minutes in length, includes an extended fart joke (Witch Pussy), random U-turns into smooth jazz (Hell and Toilet), elevator music (Buy This Album) and did I mention that their music videos are filmed in a porta-potty?
Hailing from (according to their website) Emigrant Valley, Nevada, Clown Core consists of two unidentified humans(?) in clown masks. Suspected to be Louis Cole (drums, synths and clown horn, naturally) and Sam Gendel (saxophone, keyboard and clown horn, also naturally) of the LA-based alt-rock/pop/jazz group KNOWER. This is the band’s second album and their first in 8 years since their self-titled debut. Their self-titled was a more stripped down and lo-fi affair featuring raw drums and airier saxophone and a greater emphasis on their metalcore influences compared to Toilet‘s primarily synth driven sound.
Beyond the exorbitant absurdism, the group produces some genuinely creative and fun music. The highlight track of the album Truth In Life begins with a shrieking sustained saxophone over footwork beats that propel the song forward before smash cutting to a demonic silence filled only by high pitched feedback and guttural gibberish vocals. An enigmatic series of chords brings us back and just as the driving bass drum comes back in, so does an incredible sax solo. Things get pushed to the brink and we return to the screaming sax and driving bass pedal. It is a wild journey that occurs in just under 3 minutes.
This unique mesh of dark electronic beats and saxophone is when the group is at its most inspired and best. However, the album is hampered by tracks like Witch Pussy or Scheduled Diarrhea the former is just two clown horns book-ending a fart noise and the latter being a noisy cacophony that doesn’t really build to anything and feels entirely separate from the short bit of music we hear in the last 20 seconds of the track.
The brevity of this album is a double-edged sword, it makes it easier to digest the weirdness knowing that no one moment will last too long. But it also means that the duds take up more of the album’s run-time. When you only have 14 minutes of music, you want to make all 14 minutes count. Clown Core is as much absurdist humour as it is a legitimate musical statement and it won’t let you forget it, especially with their closer Buy This Album which is a cute, pathetic, little muzak that would fit perfectly in an elevator if the ride ends in a crash to the ground from 10 stories up.
If you enjoy the weirdness and can tolerate a couple minutes of nonsense then the incredible moments on tracks like the serene Google Your Own Death and the aforementioned Truth and Life will make this a compelling and surprisingly worthwhile listen. Juvenile humour aside, Toilet is a fascinating album from a very bizarre band.