Clap! Clap! A Thousand Skies

Clap! Clap!  A Thousand Skies
8
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. Then, it hits the gritty, percussion-heavy "Ar-Raqis," in all its thick, bass-warbling glory. This oscillation between seemingly lighter fare and rich, full-bodied tracks ("Hope" and "A Thousand Skies Under Cepheus' Erudite Eyes," for example) is jarring at first, especially in lieu of any buffer or transition, but ultimately establishes itself as a winning characteristic of A Thousand Skies.
 
There are a few tracks that wholly take you by surprise — the double-time claps and all-encompassing bass of "Betelgeuse's Endless Bamboo Oceans," for example, or the frenetic bleats of horn juxtaposed with dreamy synths atop the laidback beat of "Elephant Serenade" — but that's ultimately the draw of the album: Never knowing what to expect next. (Black Acre)