Clockwork Orchestra – A Fish for a Heart

afishforaheart_front cover

Clockwork Orchestra isn’t an orchestra at all – it’s a solitary lunatic from Dublin emptying his brain into a synth-heavy, post-punky whirlwind of sound. “Bedroom producer” Paul Mangan doesn’t shy away from the bizarre on A Fish for a Heart, and the end result is something wonderful. It’s hard to describe Clockwork Orchestra’s sound, but Mangan’s bone-dry vocals and the music’s relentless drive brings to mind Welsh rockers Future of the Left – if they had discovered the synthesizer used to record the soundtrack for Nintendo’s Castlevania. The ever-present synth has an unusual interplay with the guitar, as both are constantly playing leads, almost competing with each other as pulsing bass and martial drum machines dutifully drive the rhythm. The lyrical content is self-described as “thoroughly bonkers,” and that’s pretty accurate, but there’s a darkness throughout the album that gives it more gravity than something just weird for weirdness’ sake. There are a few missteps (including a bizarro waltz), but A Fish for a Heart is infectious, especially the unstoppable lead single “The Generator Girls.” While it’s maybe a little too “out” to achieve any major success, it comes very close to that fine line between insanity and genius. (Soft Bodies Records, Sam Thompson