The collaboration of a couple of maverick multi-instrumentalist is bound to produce something special and Clutch Of The Tiger is certainly that.
After Lee’s Under The Sun soundtrack Like a Quiet Village’s Silent Movie was transported to Hollywood and exposed to film-noir to produce a soundtrack in 12 parts.
Fans of Mr. Lee (is there anybody left who isn’t) will spot his love of big drums and hip-hop, rare instruments, sixities soul, jazz and a sense of off beat humour. And the story goes that Lee’s love of collecting vintage instruments was crucial in how this duo met. In a petrol station in the Mojave Desert! Sounds improbable doesn’t it? And then after a chat, Clutchy told him a tale about mask that he had with him. Lee accepted it as a gift and pledged to wear it whenever there was a full moon. And then there’s a C90 imbedded into the mark with ‘CH’ marked on it. And so on.
A case where the music far exceeds the story line pitch; the only bit that rings true is that Clutchy and Shawn sent CDRs between themselves as in order to produce the album over a 3 month period.
This is leftfield downtempo goodness, often TV theme rather than cinema inspired. ‘Bill Blows It’ is a jazzier extension of ‘Things Change’ (due to the addition of Tracy Wannomae on flute and Todd Simon on trumpet) in a sort of Reggie Perrin (ask your parents) type tune, it’s only a matter of time before Gilles Peterson picks up on this one.
‘So Easily, So Naturally’ is a breeze and there’s definitely a 60′s vibe going through all the tracks. I love the ‘free’ guitar lick on ‘Leon Me’ and the melodica on ‘Dollar Short’. On the leftfield jazzy front there’s ‘When I Was Young’ and ‘Across The Pond’ featyres a quasi-Arabic theme; perhaps it’s just a sand thing they’ve worked out between themselves. ‘Indo-jazz‘ fans will enjoy the sitar on ‘Indian Burn’ and the closing flute/piano theme.
This album to me is a touch Daedelus, a touch Yusef Lateef, a touch Augustus Pablo, a touch Grateful Dead (in their blue grass period) and much more; what sort of soundtrack is that? With a totally instrumental album, Mixtape compilers are a little spoilt for choice for their downtempo track but the one I like best is ‘Til Next Time’ (at the moment at least) as it just sounds playful fun, even Mathew Herbert hasn’t made the stylonphone come of age! (or has he?)
Also worth noting the superb artwork is by Jim Mahford who is known for his work on Marvel and other comics .
Not only have Ubiquity and Mr. Lee released Under The Sun, there’s the brilliant NOMO album, Nobody’s Blank Blue – Western Water Music Vol. II and if you need more tiger clutching, try Clutchy’s own Walking Backwards that’s also out on Ubiquity. They are literally everywhere Man!
Reviewed: Shawn Lee & Clutchy Hopkins – Clutch Of The Tiger (Ubiquity Records) Cat. No: URCD 235 Release date: 21st October 2008
1 Full Moon (3:36)
2 Two Steps Back (3:58)
3 Things Change (3:26)
4 Bill Blows It (5:29)
5 So Easily, So Naturally (3:40)
6 Leon Me (3:35)
7 Dollar Short (4:21)
8 When I Was Young (3:52)
9 Across The Pond (3:47)
10 Bad Influence (3:05)
11 Till Next Time (4:32)
12 Indian Burn (4:41)