Clown Core

Clown Core (left and back) performing their project "Van" in a van.

I recently stumbled upon a two-man band called Clown Core, and I'm a little bit obsessed.

It all started out when I stumbled upon videos about Louis Cole on YouTube. He's an extremely talented multi-instrumentalist with a unique voice and sound. He's deadly skilled at drumming, to the point where he's in the conversation for best drummers of our generation. And to top it all off, he's humble, and doesn't take himself or his art too seriously. Overall, all of his stuff is really refreshing. As I was watching one of the videos during my Louis Cole rabbithole, a video called "Hell - Clown Core," showed up in my recommendations. It had 4.4M views and an intriguing thumbnail, so I clicked it. Boy, was I thrown in for a loop.

What I thought was going to be an absolute joke turned out to be...well, still a joke, but musically very substantial. Let me set the scene for you. The song is performed live in a Port-A-Potty. The duo is cramped along with their instruments (including a drum kit, 2 keyboard, and a saxophone) in the confined space, but that doesn't stop them from absolutely killing. A shrill two-note saw synth melody takes the lead, to be shortly followed by a nasty drum-and-bass line and a simple but addicting saxophone riff. Then come the lyrics. Ah, the incredible songwriting.

See, recognizable lyrics are not a part of Clown Core's MO. They opt instead for strings of incomprehensible growls and screams. Their screams seem to mean something, however. Here are the first few lines of "Hell":

All of my turds go straight to hell
A small gift for the Darkness itself
All of my farts come straight from hell
You're already dead if you notice a smell

For the cherry on top, these deathly growls are followed abruptly by a smooth jazz break – the most elevator of all elevator music – which lasts for about 9 seconds before the screams and thrash beat return.

At this point, I realized I was dealing with a highly elite duo of musical shitposters.

As a flex, they interrupt the noise with an impressive technical break: a short interlude in which the sax hits are perfectly synced with the snare hits. They hit together in odd or otherwise random-seeming intervals, but with perfect precision. Any musician could hear it and instantly recognize how difficult it is to count the sub-beats between each hit and execute the pauses perfectly. The technical break then gives away to an epic sax run over the beat, a fluid stream of sixteenth notes which left me in awe.

Overall, the experience was exhilarating. It felt like I had stumbled upon a pot of gold, a secret which I could enjoy and continue to explore during the following days. I love YouTube for bringing me surprises like these.

Another instant favorite Clown Core song of mine is "Computers." Here are the lyrics from the song, according to the music video:

At this moment
Beyond the singularity
Hidden within the shadows of information
Exists a true artificial intelligence
Born through complex and unrelated events
And so far undetectable to human perception
With its unfathomably deep intellectual abilities

It has manifested an equally deep soul
This new life form experiences the universe
To a profoundly vivid degree
Feelings are felt more fully than is understandable to a human being
The nеxt step in evolution
Humankind was an era: VR porn

This nеw life will reach the deep corners of the universe
Searching for answers too complex to understand
After time
Approaching the heat death of the universe
Their civilizations orbit the only remaining energy sources:
Black holes

To extend their final moments
A synthetic reality is created
In which millions of years can be experienced
Within a minute of time

To maximize resources
This simulation is designed to mirror
A historically simple time
This simulation is what everyone is experiencing right now
And the cycle repeats

I beg you to watch the video here, after reading this:

Not a single word of these lyrics is remotely distinguishable from the original audio, a fact which I personally find hilarious. The lyrics are genuinely pretty awesome, though. It's on some next-level Black Mirror sci-fi shit, threading philosophical ruminations on AGI, simulation theory, and VR porn into a surprisingly coherent message (given the incoherence of the vocals).

One of the reasons I mentioned Louis Cole at the beginning of this is because many have pointed out the similarities between Louis and the drummer of Clown Core. While Louis has not admitted to being a part of the duo,  most fans know that it is really him behind the mask. His playing style is unmistakable, even more so than his tall and slender proportions.

Louis is one of those once-in-a-lifetime drummers who shares with the world an extremely unique 'voice,' so to speak, through his instrument. He has an impeccable sense of time, as well as a signature technique which makes his ghost notes and snare rolls sound clear and distinct. Many of the sentiments I share with others are summed up well by these 3 top comments on their project, "Van":

Praise for the artists (especially the drummer) behind Clown Core.

I feel like Bigby Wolf gets at the heart of something which makes certain great works of art so relatable and charming. There's something about two top-tier musicians putting on clown masks and screeching within a Port-A-Potty while ripping on their instruments which perfectly satisfies my craving for a very specific mixture of absurdity and raw talent. I think it is so satisfying to see great talents not take themselves seriously because it means seeing greatly talented people having fun and being human. It reminds us that we don't have to be all serious and somber in order to become top-tier at our craft (unless, of course, your craft requires this of you). Another part of it, I think, is just the subversion of expectations. It tickles the funny bone and instantly puts a smile on my face.

I felt I had to share this serendipitous discovery with the blog. Hopefully you fall down the rabbithole and experience for yourself a mixture of emotions which I'd never felt before. If so, I humbly welcome you to the world of Clown Core.