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Italy’s Clap! Clap!, aka Cristiano Crisci, returns with an ambitious second album for Black Acre, following up on his 2014 debut, ‘Tayi Bebba’. With ‘A Thousand Skies’, Clap! Clap! ventures deeper into the bold territory staked out by the debut, investigating and handling the melodies, textures, colours, and rhythms of Africa with further confidence, rigour, and daring.
For Crisci, Clap! Clap! is something of a research project, or rather, an explorative sampling project that uncovers and draws upon a profusion of source material recorded from the African continent. Throughout this album, recordings of traditional music, bands, singers, tribal ceremonies, nature, and urban soundscapes are all intricately woven into a vibrant, rich, pulsating, and invigorating musical tapestry, fused together with drum machines and synths. Evocatively titled tracks like ‘Nguwe’, ‘Ar-Raqis’, and ‘Betelgeuse’s Endless Bamboo Oceans’ encapsulate the delicate aesthetic balancing act that underpins Crisci’s work, bringing together and bridging a disparate range of influences and cultural referents to engender a unique, exciting, and multi-faceted listening experience.
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She slowly became shrouded in sleep, she put up no resistance, she let herself be taken over.
She started dreaming straight away, a conscious dream of a consistency she had never felt before. A dream that was so terribly real.
Suddenly her body became lighter and she felt that she was being lifted up. With her eyes wide shut and a pounding heart she tried to grab her covers but her body continued to go higher.
She checked her bedside table, on it were all the objects she placed in the same position, like a ritual, every night before going to bed. Her glasses, a water bottle and the bracelet that her mother had given her. Seeing herself part from these objects made her feel lost, she wasn’t ready to be separated from them, she desperately felt like crying.
She put her hands over her face and with astonishment she realised she was actually wearing her glasses and her bracelet and had the bottle of water in her pocket.
“Nguweeee, is it you?”
Someone was calling out for her and was pushing her towards the sky, on top of the clouds, beyond the blue line, in the darkness of space.
“Nguweeee, is it you?”
Hearing someone call out for her was actually calming her down.
Being alone had always been her greatest fear.
“Nguweeee, is it you?”
Her friends had slowly disappeared, some had moved home, got married or simply had different interests or needs. Her phone was ringing less than usual.
But now there was that voice calling her, she didn’t have to do anything except go towards it. “Nguweeee, is it you?”
Suddenly a warm, blinding and reassuring light.
Sirius revealed herself to her, and this was a good sign.
Sirius had enlightened her path and for this she was grateful, but knowing which way she had to go certainly wasn’t easy.
She remained still for a while observing the infinite space around her and when she tried to go in one direction she went straight back and would change route.
Her orientation skills had never been great, it’s understandable, when your destination isn’t clear it’s hard to know if you are on the right path and she’s always had so many distractions.
The distraction this time had been a distant sound of a lyre.
She followed that soft sound and found Vega waiting for her, the star received her in its warmth and showed her the way.
The music of the lyre was far way and had been fluctuating for a while in the direction that Vega had pointed out.
She couldn’t recognise anything, everything looked new. She felt as if she was a girl again, like when her father used to put her on his shoulders to make her discover the city. Roads would gradually appear, and she would observe all the minor details. She would count the houses, the windows, look at the names of all the shop signs, she would hold on to all the smells.
Those roads that would later become so familiar!
She felt a strange weightless feeling and she started to attentively observe the surrounding space. She was concentrating so hard that she didn’t notice the arrival of the Virgo who delicately hugged her with pure and selfless love. The two women stared at each other without talking, then the Virgo kissed her on the forehead and wished her a safe journey.
She was observing her hands in a calm manner, they looked bigger, it was in that moment that she realised she didn’t have any shoes .
She briefly glanced nearby to see if they had fallen but she didn’t see anything. However, she was intrigued by a small bright spot that seemed to be moving.
She began to stare at it and realized that the spot was getting bigger.
It looked like fire, it seemed like an animal, it looked bad, it looked like a dragon.
The bright spot that was hurling at her at full speed was Arrakis, the nose of the dragon.
With a speed that she didn’t even realise she had she managed to avoid a full impact, but the tail hit her so hard that it cast her far away into space .
The first thing she saw when she opened her eyes were the trees. She seemed to be back on Earth. She couldn’t quite identify the exact location, but if she had to guess she would have said Africa!
The dense vegetation prevented her from seeing further than her nose, so she tried to make a bit of space to make herself way. She did not know which direction to take, but music guided her once more.
The music was coming from a clearing where a small tribe was performing a divination song around a large sculpture. She noticed that the sculpture resembled the shield found in the Ethiopian flag, or at least as she remembered it.
The rhythm was so absorbing that she wanted to dance, so she bravely came out of hiding but right in that moment the unthinkable happened.
The vegetation around her began to levitate, every tree was recalled to heaven and so was every little speck of land, the entire sculpture, the small tribe, and even herself.
All elements went their separate ways, and within a split second she found herself floating alone in the infinite cosmos.
Like most people, she too had a favourite number, and like almost anybody she didn’t know why she preferred it to the others. Seven had always been a friendly number and as soon as she had started paying attention she was seeing it more and more often.
When she came upon the Pleiades, for example, she immediately started counting them and was not surprised to find out that there were seven; the seven sisters of the night.
She got close and Atlas, realizing that there was no danger in letting her go, let her pass. Initially she was attracted by Merope, it seemed that her subtle light concealed a deep mystery, she felt the same curiosity that comes with silent and reserved people.
Then she turned her gaze and was so impressed by the gentle and loving presence of Alcyone who dedicated a sweet song full of admiration and esteem.
Not far away Orion was cleaning his sword when he was struck by the purity of that song .
She said goodbye to the Pleiades, thanked Atlas and continued her journey without a clear destination in mind. Finally she was relaxed, it was quiet, she did not know where she was or where she was going but right now this wasn’t a problem.
She was beginning to have a smile on her face when Orion hurled against her at great speed, grabbed her with one arm, held her tightly to his chest and headed towards Betelgeuse.
Orion tried to seduce her with warrior-like words but soon realized it wasn’t working on the beautiful girl, so he decided to let time take its toll on her. He made her a prisoner of Betelgeuse and promised that she would not be released until she decided to love him.
The girl was astonished by the speed by which happiness had slipped from her hands.
She was so tired of all those cages that prevented her from being happy that she didn’t have the slightest doubt about running away.
She ran to the huge bamboo ocean but just when she began to feel safe, the land started to disappear from under her feet, so she closed her eyes and waited for the crash.
At first the dark swamp did not scare her, having just escaped from Orion’s prison made everything look less terrifying.
But it only took a few minutes to change her mind.
The near total darkness, the slippery ground, and the noises in the undergrowth terrified her. To make matters worse she heard witches singing in the distance and imagined them in a circle around a cauldron performing some kind of witchcraft.
That swamp was so frightening, it was enough to make her regret not being back in the cold walls of Betelgeuse.
Orion could semse the fear, the girl had escaped under his nose.
She kept going round and round in circles in the darkness, she could not escape.
By this point she was convinced that she wouldn’t make it, when suddenly she felt a presence nearby. From the confident manner in which they moved she understood that this was someone who knew the swamp well, and that they could lead her out. She found courage, and went to meet him.
For a moment she had the feeling of being less remote, less alone, but it was a very brief moment, just before she realised that that presence was in fact Orion.
The gleaming sword cut through the branches, she wasted no time and began to run away.
She ran with all her might but every time she turned around Orion was getting closer, she tried to get quicker, but Orion leaped in front, looked at her with a smirk and swung his sword. She was astonished by the power of that move but managed to avoid the blow. That missed hit had caused a blast so loud that her little frail body was thrown far away at great speed.
She felt her body warp, as if the force was shaping her. The more she fell the more she was becoming weak.
This was more than a mild feeling, she noticed that her arms had become one with the upper body and her legs had joined together like the tail of a mermaid.
As that wild ride continued she looked more and more like a serpent.
Ophiuchus was lost in his thoughts when he saw her moving past. She asked him for help, so he tried to grab her but failed. She, or rather, the serpent, slipped from his hand.
When the race was over she regained her body, but this experience affected her so much that she did not notice that she had reached the Pillars of Creation.
Two magnificent huge columns of gas that had created the stars. It was a fantastic sight, probably the most beautiful of all worlds.
The two columns were full of charm, the stars were created in heaven so slowly that it would make it a solemn gesture.
She tried to get closer to touch the gas that appeared disarmingly gentle, but when she was close enough to touch she felt herself sinking.
In a flash she found herself sucked into a black hole, even though it wasn’t very black, the vortex was actually colourful.
Many colors were moving between them mixing and mingling.
At the end of the vortex she saw an eye that was watching her, its pupil was of a shocking green, it looked like it was hiding a new unexplored world.
She lost herself observing it and did not notice all the other small little eyes sticking through the walls. In no time at all the vortex was filled of a thousand eyes staring at her.
She had become so mesmerised by the green pupil that she could no longer keep her eyes open.
She woke up, rubbed her eyes and stretched, she felt like she had slept for a long time.
She looked around and had the feeling of being back home. She thought back to all the adventures that had passed, the escape from Orion, the seven Pleiades, Vega, Sirius, Ophiuchus and for a moment she thought it was all a very long dream.
She understood she wasn’t on Earth yet when she arrived to a river, the water was a strange amber color and its texture seemed denser. Intrigued, she dipped a finger in that strange liquid and brought it to her mouth.
It was a river of honey, a discovery which made her smile. She was so fascinated by what she was seeing that she decided to follow the river flow to the nearby waterfall.
The surprises were not over, the falling honey turned into wine.
She took a sip and found it so delicious she drank more, more, and yet more...
The planet where she was looked rather strange, there were many things that reminded her of home and others that did not have any logical form.
But in the end she'd never believed in logic, in spite of her life having been full of opportunities to wonder, she had always dealt with these with enviable calm and understanding.
It was for this reason that she was not in the least surprised at the sight of a large elephant made of stars hanging in the air, it sang its song to the moon.
She looked at it the same way you watch a bird fly, and did not give it more than a quick glance.
Her attention was instead drawn from the Moon. She was sure it was the Earth’s Moon. With the hope of being close to home, she went towards it.
When she arrived back on Earth she had that great feeling you feel every time you come home after a long journey, when gradually the journey starts to be part of the memories, and life finds its origin. It seemed that nothing had changed yet she felt that something had.
She turned around and stared at that wonderful world with the new eyes of a child.
The air was lighter, easier to breath, felt healthier.
She took a deep breath to inhale the harmony, then lay down on the lawn and cast a loving gaze to the sky.
Finally mankind had returned to cultivate respect, peace and infinite love.
Digital Track List
- 1 Discessus Clap! Clap! 1:31 Buy
- 2 Nguwe Clap! Clap! feat. Bongeziwe Mabandla 3:24 Buy
- 3 Oriens. Oriri Clap! Clap! 2:20 Buy
- 4 Hope Clap! Clap! feat. OY 4:10 Buy
- 5 Ar-Raqis Clap! Clap! 2:40 Buy
- 6 A Thousand Skies Under Cepheus' Erudite Eyes Clap! Clap! feat. John Wizards 2:46 Buy
- 7 Ode to the Pleiades Clap! Clap! 6:01 Buy
- 8 Betelgeuse's Endless Bamboo Oceans Clap! Clap! 2:28 Buy
- 9 Witch Interlude Clap! Clap! 1:47 Buy
- 10 Rainy Souls, Gloomy Futures Clap! Clap! 2:33 Buy
- 11 Flowing Like a Snake in Ophiuchus' Arms Clap! Clap! 2:12 Buy
- 12 Centripetal Clap! Clap! 2:23 Buy
- 13 Rainbow Coast Clap! Clap! 2:40 Buy
- 14 Elephant Serenade Clap! Clap! 2:26 Buy
- 15 Ascension Psalm Clap! Clap! feat. HDADD 2:51 Buy
- Clap! Clap!
- Tales from the Rainstick (EP & Singles Collection)
- Black Acre Records
- Catalogue Number
- Release Date
- May 4, 2016
- Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra
- Luaka Bop
- Catalogue Number
- Release Date
- March 26, 2021