The first time I listened to B.O.A.T.S., I had to double-check it was made by the same Clockwork that appeared on Hot Creations. Then I checked again. And again. Even now I'm not convinced. The Italian duo's ghoulish "It's You Again" might have been one of the more individual releases to come from the Foss/Jones-instigated pandemic of 2011 and '12, but it wasn't in any way a signifier of what was to come: B.O.A.T.S, in all its dark and dubby dreamscape glory, is a totally different proposition, from a totally different place.
Save for one collaborative EP on Dumb Unit, we've heard nothing from the Italian duo since their debut. This album more than makes up for that. It's so focussed and fully formed you'd be surprised if Francesco Leali and Federico Maccherone had left their studio at all in the last year. From rumbling dub to post-apocalyptic ambiance, dark pop to rampaging techno, B.O.A.T.S. freely explores the parameters of a full-length in ways that recall Trentemoller's 2006 opus, The Last Resort.
This often bleak but never hostile ride would be a fine soundtrack in the right club, but it also makes for a powerful experience in headphones. "Running Searching" is both cavernous and intimate, not least because of its clean and laid-bare vocals. Much of the album is muffled or veiled, as if coming through a wall or up through the ground. "False Matters" best exemplifies this, with fierce and buried kicks that sound like a distant subterranean pulse.
Whether you're drifting like flotsam in the percussion on "Prisms," drowning under the grainy dub chords of "Hidden Spectator" or coming down with the innocent lullaby melodies of "Lost Keys" (featuring Tale Of Us), you always feel cocooned in a pillow-y womb of sound. B.O.A.T.S., we're told, stands for Based On A True Story. Come the end, that satisfying feeling of having just experienced something, of having been somewhere, is very real indeed.
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Tracklist: Clockwork - B.O.A.T.S. 01. First Floor
03. Running Searching feat. Chasing Kurt
05. The Quiet Hour feat. Avatism
07. Second Floor
08. This World Is Not Designed For Us feat. Clarian
10. Hidden Spectator
11. False Matters
12. Lost Keys feat. Tale Of Us
13. One Way Ticket