Clipd Beaks – To Realize Album Review

Experimental rock bands seem to be getting a good amount of attention from the mainstream media these days, but within that subgenre is an even smaller subset of individuals who seem to channel the unconscious into droning, contemplative music that listeners can really lose themselves in. Similar to doom metal bands like Om, which lure listeners in with the calming use of repetition, psychedelic experimental bands like Clipd Beaks achieve the same effect, but via a different sonic experience.

Clipd Beaks’ new album, To Realize, is the band’s second full-length record, and it will likely turn some heads in 2010. Whereas comparable musicians like Psychic Ills and Indian Jewelry seem to overtly drink in inspiration from world music — with some of their songs complete with Eastern chimes and accompanying visuals to match — Clipd Beaks seem to be a combination of the worldly sound of these bands and the accessible nature of more widely-accepted experimental bands like Fuck Buttons.

Listen to “Blood” off of To RealizeDOWNLOAD MP3

“Strangler” is the minimal track that starts off the album, immediately setting the stage for the echoey, dissonant noise that the listener is in for. The track’s ambient underlayer smooths it into the next track, “Blood,” which has slow, grinding bass and a background reminiscent of a room full of people simultaneously chanting the word “om”. Nick Berbeln breathily expells vocals which stretch out over the top of the instrumentals like a canvas, effectively creating songs that — dare I say — might find themselves at home on an updated rehashing of the ’90s Spawn soundtrack. And though that may sound like a criticism of sorts, it is far from one. Though it’s hard to deny that some industrial and downtempo influences do shine through in the slow, sludgey beats of Clipd Beaks, their music luckily never runs into corny KMFDM territory or anything.

“Visions” is another notable track on the album, and again follows a pattern of constant ambient noise topped off by deliciously atonal vocals and a beat that will make you sway like a zombie. The track is repetitive, but again, repetition is effective when used in this situation. It sets a stage, and it sets the mood.

At an hour long, though, To Realize is only listenable when one is in the proper headspace. Every track on To Realize shares the similarity of wallowing in the dark, introspective corners of the mind. It is only about forty minutes into the album, starting with “Desert Highway Music,” that the intensity of the disc starts to lighten up a little bit. In fact, the latter half of the album feels a little disconnected from the former, but the disc still closes out nicely with the relaxed “Shot On A Horse.”

With To Realize, Clipd Beaks forge a sound that feels approachable without sacrificing any of the deep, meditative qualities that make this brand of music so appealing in the first place. And most of all, all of the songs on To Realize feel natural. Never once does it feel as though the band is trying too hard to please anyone but themselves, and it’s a careful distinction in this day and age where experimental music sometimes feels less like outsider art and more like hip, calculated bumbling.


Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

Vee has two narrative short films. Searching Skies (2017) touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States; with it, they helped co-organize The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. Reckless Spirits (2022) is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature-length project.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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Written by Vee Hua 華婷婷
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