Where does inspiration come from? It’s a question that has perplexed and provoked artists throughout history, and, evidently, for the Parisian-born itinerant Butterclock (aka Laura Clock), it comes from contradiction. Confrontational in its vulnerability and beautiful in its ugliness, the staunchly independent producer’s new EP, First Prom, on o_F_F_Love’s own FANTASY Music, April 15, moves away from Clock’s roots in subverted pop and dark RnB, while staying true to a singular honesty, shrouded in illusion.
Citing surrealist André Breton as an inspiration, it’s easy to see the influence of his ideas of understanding the world within the realms of the absurd, even in the artist’s very moniker. There’s meaning in the contradiction of Butterclock, not least with its sly nudge to the aforementioned French writer’s emphasis on automatism but the juxtaposition of two opposing signifiers, of the organic and the synthetic, the malleable and mechanical, and reflecting the emotional conflict of the Clock persona. It’s no real surprise that she’ll be supporting Tallin-born, Brooklyn-via-London-based artist, Maria Minverva in the US, whose conceptual focus on feminism and femininity reveals itself in the clumsy self-reflection of her hyperaware persona. Clock, meanwhile, explores her sensuality, where emotionality and anxiety finds strength in embracing its weakness.
At the centre of Clock’s work is a sense of life’s transience and, thus, silliness. Her celestial soundscapes, reminiscent of the stylistically verbose Grimes, are bizarrely contorted by elements of her urban musical past and physical present, in industrial Berlin. The flutter of a syncopated beat or a driving bass line underpins the whole record, while tracks like the unsettling loop of ‘Milky Words’, is sustained on a lyrical flow not dissimilar to the likes of Aaliyah or Alicia Keys. That is, except that its slowed down and diffused into the ether of Butterclock’s moody sonic palate. ‘Holograms’ is a scattered dance anthem to a broken heart as she confesses, “now that it’s over, it’s over, and I’m not over it,” and the echoing intro, ‘Crystal Eyes’ laments being ambushed by the sickness of love as Clock moans, “you got, you got me”, over an acoustic guitar before dropping out into oblivion.
Floating to the surface of public consciousness, through her long time creative relationship with San Francisco based producer, oOoOO, contributing vocals to last year’s Our Love is Hurting Us and collaborating on the brilliantly feminised corruption of Rick Ross’ overtly sexist hip hop hit, ‘Hustlin‘, Butterclock trades on dissecting and perverting the inherent weirdness of pop. But rather than doing it as explicitly as she had done in the creepy torpor of her earlier covers -see Nelly Furtado and Timbaland’s ‘Say It Right’ or Jennifer Paige’s ‘Crush’ -Clock has evolved her oeuvre even further from her proto-mix-culture days, when she recorded covers of her favourite pop tracks to tape. Progressing from pastiche perverter to an amorphous style and transcendent consciousness buried in emotionality, for Butterclock, everything is inspiration, most things are malleable and nothing is as it seems.**