Album Review: Cleft – “Wrong”
Cleft is dead. Long live Cleft. Since 2011, the founders of the ‘turbo-prog’ genre have been condensing 10 minute prog epics into just 3. Their mind-bendingly complex music is made all the more impressive as they only use a guitar and some drums. Over the course of their previous releases (including 2014’s excellent Bosh!), this duo have always managed to keep their music challenging, yet fun. There’s no technical madness for the sake of it, though don’t get me wrong (ahem), Cleft are fantastic musicians. So the news earlier this year that they’d be calling it a day was met with shock and bewilderment amongst the DIY math-rock scene. But every cloud has a silver lining, and in this case it’s the release of their farewell record Wrong.
While Bosh! went for a more studio-oriented approach, adding guitar overdubs and other extras to enhance the sound, Wrong goes the other way and is positively raw in its production. The interesting decisions don’t stop there, as Cleft opted to record this album in four different studios around the country, with each studio and engineer chosen specifically to serve the vibe of each track. The resultant live-sounding ‘studio-tour’ style adds a real boldness and intensity to Wrong. It’s refreshing and unusual; this is Cleft going out with a turbo-prog charged bang.
Speaking of bangs, lead single and live favourite Frankenstein makes for an explosive album opener with its badass riffage and nuanced drumming. Cleft have a real knack for writing a riff which is strangely singable – both this and next track, the wonderfully titled D.O.N.G 808, reinforce their claim to the ‘sing-riff’ throne.
There are also three tribute tracks on Bosh!, all recorded like jams, using only one microphone. Lemmy, David and Alan mark a change in pace from the angular riffage of much of the rest of the album. Now I don’t want to sound all cliché, but, in places at least, Cleft’s sound has certainly matured, these tracks being a great example. Other album highlights include the drumming frenzy/masterclass Face Plant, Desperate Elvis with its unexpected mid-track mood change, and the funky riffage of album closer Dohmlette.
Cleft's parting gift is their best release to date. As you'd expect its chock full of big riffs and superb drumming, with a vein of trademark Cleft humour running throughout. Add to this mixture an unconventional recording process and a few tracks displaying a different side to the band, and you have an album which shouldn't work but it does. You could almost say it's so wrong, its right.