CLIFFWALKER is an incredibly rad name for a band. The Portland duo of Cliff Hayes (bass, keys) and A. Walker Spring (vibes, drums, keys, guitar) have more radness than just that going on, though. This instrumental outfit has some impressive vision, as displayed on “Punching Clocks.”
“Punching Clocks” is the sort of thing that the word post-rock was made for: a fuzzed-out rock guitar (and/or bass!) line duets with melodic percussion (vibes, the actual instrument) to create impressive vibes (the feelings). It rocks, but not in the way that we think that rock rocks. (It also doesn’t rock the way most post-rock does, but that’s another post.) It’s rock put in the service of other moods, and we are the better for it.
Instead, the interplay of the leads produces the experience of a spy-movie chase scene. The careful, tasteful percussion provides good guardrails: the low cymbals offer energy to the piece while the rock-solid rhythms hold the performances back from going off the rails. As it is, the piece delightfully teeters on the edge of chaos, if only because it’s rare to hear this sort of combo go at it (Garage a Trois / all Mike Dillon projects notwithstanding). It’s a distinctive entry in a fun space, and that is a great thing to celebrate.
Cliff Hayes was kind enough to give us a word on the song: “‘Punching Clocks’ draws inspiration from the daily dread of going to a job you dislike and the conditioning of human existence to the dictates of time. We partition up our lives and our identities to meet the demands set upon us by society and its concept of time.”