The elusive artist behind “It Makes the Babies Want to Cry” and “Bleed,” showcases himself in debut album, 100% Electronica.
By Michael Tyler, University of Texas at Austin
Music critics credit the Internet with changing the industry in a number of massively impactful ways, but few are more paradigm-shifting than the unrestricted access that artists now enjoy to music from every genre, region and decade.
And while that’s not a new concept, George Clanton’s latest effort, 100% Electronica, is fresh evidence of its importance. But to fully appreciate the New York-by-way-of-Virginia producer and his latest release, we have to start at the beginning.
For the last four years, George Clanton has operated under two monikers. The first was as a seminal vaporwave producer called ESPRIT 空想. This act, which he operated under for three years, was largely associated with the music label, hyperpop subgenre and all-encompassing scene known as PC Music.
PC Music, known for its genre-bending electric hyperspeed pop music, gained Internet notoriety in 2013, and has been responsible for churning out some of the most unique sounds in music today. ESPRIT 空想, and the electronic vaporwave soundscapes it created, fit right into the scene and were Clanton’s first steps into the experimental pop world.
The second and most recent project Clanton worked on was called Mirror Kisses. This project took his day-glo synths and shoegaze atmospheres and paired them with his own vocal tracks, creating his first vocally driven pop project. While this experiment was received well, Clanton always felt as if it was missing something. On his Facebook page, Clanton describes feeling as if he could never get the ending right to either one of these projects. The issue lingered with him for quite some time. Then, on a subway ride one day in September, it “hit him.” A year later, 100% Electronica was born.
Today, Clanton has ditched all of the other handles and is operating both in the spotlight and under his birth name. His most recent project, 100% Electronica, was released on September 25th and shows the artist fully coming into his own.
While Mirror Kisses was Clanton’s first attempt at pairing vocal tracks with his vaporwave synths, 100% Electronica shows this idea fully realized. The shoegaze synths still create vast, endless atmospheres, but this time around, Clanton’s vocals create an oasis that your ears long for. The influences from 80’s pop giants such as Tears for Fears and New Order (who Clanton cites as his favorite band growing up) are all apparent, but they’re mixed and mashed together with synths from Internet-only genres like PC Music, chillwave and vaporwave that are entirely 2015, a recipe that creates pop songs large enough to fill a stadium.
The EP is ten songs long and thoroughly displays Clanton’s ability to create soaring and dramatic pop music as both a songwriter and producer. The album features chant-along tracks reminiscent of New Order and Tears for Fears at their most poppy (Keep a Secret, Innocence, Did I Flounder?), two irrefutable pop anthems (Bleed, It Makes Babies Want to Cry) and an absolutely insane track (Kill You in Bed) that showcases Clanton’s vaporwave abilities by creating a slow rising sound that literally sounds like a wave is washing over you.
Growing up on the Internet gives way to endless possibilities in terms of music production, and while the blending of genres is the obvious benefit, the other, which is perhaps even more rewarding, is watching an artist grow and piece together something brilliant. Over the last four years, we’ve seen George Clanton emerge, fully stepping into the spotlight, and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.