Courtesy of Sub Pop

October 21, 2019

TEST SPIN | clipping. — ‘There Existed an Addiction to Blood’

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I fear my modest writing skills can’t properly recount the mastery with which clipping. and Daveed Diggs have crafted their new album, There Existed an Addiction to Blood. Diggs is on another level when it comes to lyrical storytelling and the instrumentals both perfectly accompany and add to the vibrant detail with which each tale is written. I’m trying my best here, but some things simply cannot be expressed in words (although Diggs would find a way). There Existed an Addiction to Blood is truly a sight to behold (or hear, I guess).

I’m not sure why clipping. hasn’t capitalized on the rabid Halloween market before this album, since the group’s sound lends itself perfectly to the horrorcore genre. Sure, lead rapper Daveed Diggs has spit stories about a woman who seduces men and then brutally murders them (“Body and Blood,” off the 2014 album CLPPNG) and their 2016 Hugo-nominated album Splendor and Misery is a complex story about the aftermath of a slave uprising in space. But There Existed an Addiction to Blood is specially, spookily tailored for All Hallow’s Eve. From the John Carpenter-inspired “Nothing is Safe” to an 18-minute closing track that is simply the audio of a burning piano (aptly titled “Piano Burning”), everything on the project is ghostly, ghastly and, most importantly, golden.

The introductory track (“Intro”) is a 64-second number during which Diggs creates an aura of fantasy and fear, rapping over the sound of someone using a shovel, digging what I imagine to be a roadside grave, but that’s the beauty of the track. You hear whatever you choose to; if you listen differently, you might interpret it as someone scribbling on a piece of paper. Diggs’ lyrics are muffled, as if the song is a recording of his voice being played out of a poor speaker next to the shovel-wielder, and intermittent ambient noises add auditory texture. Phrases like “the bottom fell out and the bodies hit the floor,” “the ghost of bitches and chickens come home to roost” and “blood was the ink upon which all them scary stories were built” insinuate a theme of death and gore. At the same time, lines such as “boiling oil separating all the good stuff to the top” and “moon is full, your silver chain is beautiful” display the duality of the horror theme, in which something such as the moon can be both enchanting and terrible (think werewolves). The track ends with a haunting, high-pitched rise of sound that may either be an oncoming car or perhaps a scream, cut off before it reaches its apex.

Similar to “Body and Blood,” “The Show” is a gratuitously grotesque depiction of murder, this time describing a red room. For those of you who have never heard of a red room (who has?), it’s an online chat room where people can pay to see a person tortured and killed, though it’s likely (hopefully) just an urban legend. It’s songs like these where I genuinely wonder about Diggs’ sanity. “Nice blood bouquet, trace of marrow” and “bear trap to the calf, that’s just basic pain” are simultaneously too-vivid depictions of barbaric practices and phrases that would tip-off just about any licensed therapist (and probably some unlicensed ones, too). The next track of the album, “Possession (Interlude),” is a two-minute excerpt from the 1971 horror-comedy film The Return of Count Yorga, which maybe serves to lighten the mood? I’m not sure.

“Story 7” is the fifth installment in the group’s “Story” series (numbers three and six do not exist). This chapter follows a woman named Cynthia — who might be a werewolf — as she meets a man named Randy — a character from previous “Story”s — at a bar. The pair get into a cab, but the driver stops the car, shoots Cynthia with silver bullets, then leaves. Each “Story” is a lyrical novella encapsulated in the overarching theme of the album, and “Story 7” connects previous characters and scenes to the monster motif of There Existed an Addiction to Blood.

What makes clipping. truly unique is their genuine creativity and flawless execution of their ideas. The group set out to make a Halloween-style album — of this, I’m certain, as their Twitter avatar is a jack-o-lantern and their name is written in “spooky” letters and bookended by pumpkins — and produced it to a tee. If you’ve never heard of clipping. before, There Existed an Addiction to Blood might not be the best entry point for the group, but if you’re into the whole “blood and gore” scene, it may be perfect. The group’s style probably isn’t for everyone, but I think clipping. delivered a thematic masterpiece just in time for the holiday season.

Jeremy Markus is a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He currently serves as an assistant arts and entertainment editor on The Sun’s editorial board. He can be reached at [email protected].