Malta’s most talked about artist Clinton Paul is back with a new album, ‘Samsara’, whose half-hour, 10-track whammy has had us bowled over for the past couple of months.
So how does it compare to the monster tracks that were Rebellion and Badass Soldier? Chucky and Teodor give their thoughts on each track from one of the longest awaited albums in the history of Maltese music. Or at least, the past two months.
T: The desolate, feverish sounds of the desert. Ominous keys suggest an approaching darkness. This is a disturbed and lonely mind. Seeking solace and meaning. The whispered words of “Uncovering everything that isn’t you… Samsara” at the end suggest a yearning for self-knowledge and rebirth that’s in line with old Sanskrit meaning of ‘Samsara’, but it also a recurring motif in Paul’s work…
C: I just rolled my eyes for two whole minutes, and I don’t know if it was for Clinton or Teo.
T: The song isn’t even two minutes long, man. This is a slick piece of atmospheric dread, you philistine.
C: It’s not dread, actually… it’s dreadful. It also sounds like a stock music track they forgot to pay for, and the promotional voice-over came on at the end.
T: Okay, agree to disagree, not for the last time, I’m sure. Looks like we’ve got something to celebrate…
T: Nevermind the weirdness of launching a spring-summer album with a Christmas carol. This only reinforces my theory that this is a concept album about an unraveling mind. He was in the desert, and now he’s remembering happier times.
C: I’m just waiting for Eileen Montesin to spin and wink at the camera like the intro to some shitty 90s sitcom ft. Christine Haber.
T: Tnax? Sounds like ‘snacks’?
C: “Bidu gdid — pozittivita’ — solidarjeta’ — ugwaljanza”: Sponsored by Joseph Muscat!
T: Yeah, can’t disagree with you on that one. Total mass-meeting song. But again, I think it only expresses a desire to get back to a healthy and functioning society that will accept you back from the desert of track one.
C: I just wanna find out if you hear ‘Taghna Lkoll’ when you play it backwards. I’m genuinely curious.
4. Beautiful Day
C: If you play this song several times in front of the mirror, T-Pain appears. My god, if you’re gonna auto-tune, at least do it properly.
T: The artificiality is precisely the point. He is remembering a perfect, beautiful day. In his desert reverie, the memory of this day is idealised beyond anything humanly possible. As is very much evident in the accompanying video to the song…
C: “A wave of positive energy coming my way” – is that what the cool kids are calling it these days?
5. White Room
T: “Sitting in a cold white room”… okay, he’s back from the desert. But he’s dehydrated and friendless.
C: Okay. But to me it sounds like a Balkan Eurovision entry.
T: Balkan power!
C: I’m finding his lack of key changes disappointing though…
T: “Will I see you again?” Will he, Chuck?
C: Not if he doesn’t give me a fucking key change he won’t. Oh god, is this Madonna c. 1990?
C: Morena lives!
T: This song seals it though — there’s a chromatic theme going on. First he was in a ‘white room’ and now he’s complaining about his “monochrome” existence and how only Michaelangelo can “paint his blues away”…
C: YAS those harmonies! Amber, is that you?!
T: “Escape hatch!”
C: Oh, listen to that bridge! The all-important Swedish synth player has been let out of Aviici’s basement for one last hurrah!
C: I know I mention Eurovision singers all the time, but this song is totally Claudette Pace’s ‘Desire’. Like in the opening notes, I can already picture her waving her scarf through the streets of Mdina.
T: Precisely. It’s a song about desire. He’s got colour in his life back, and now he’s ready to enjoy all that life offers.
C: I feel like I’m in Bar Native and not nearly drunk enough for this song.
T: It’s bilingual too!
C: The random Maltese switch, love it!
T: “Nerga’ nghix mill-gdid” — once again, a correct reference to the real meaning of Samsara.
T: Industrial keys and a far-away voice. He “feels the tension rising”. After the initial euphoria, he’s come face to face with life’s disappointments…
C: Oh, you want my take? I’m so bored I’m stapling post-its together…
T: Do chains really ‘break down’ though, as he says?
C: Yeah I think he means emotionally breaking down or whatever. Chains do many things, apart from break down, most of the time.
9. Summer Fling
T: Would it be a summer fling or a summer ‘flung’?
C: This is totally his S-Club 7 song.
T: But back to the concept. I think that after his initial romantic disappointment, he’s accepted that the best he can hope for is a mere ‘summer fling’…
C: J’alla l-gid.
10. Mi Amore
T: Okay so he’s mixing two languages together to make that title.
C: Yeah, it’s either ‘Mio Amore’ or ‘Mi Amor’
T: Although a reliable source informs me that it would actually be ‘Mi Amore’ in Tuscan dialect…
C: I’m willing to actually eat my shoe if I’m presented with solid evidence that he’s familiar with the Tuscan dialect.
T: What do we think about the ‘Latin vibes’ in this one?
C: Totally Enrique Iglesias. I’m just waiting for him to try and make out with an audience member…
T: Okay, so now that we’ve enjoyed/endured this local musical masterpiece, what is our take-way from all this?
C: My take-away is Sofa Kebab 90% of the time.
T: I haven’t been to Sofra ever since Coach and Horses closed *sniff*
C: Enough kebab talk, we should rate the album… I give him 1.5 Mariah Careys, for the effort he put in making it sound like a Eurovision album.
T: I give it 4 Twirly Mustaches for the narrative and thematic cohesion of the concept. 0 for musical content though, I’m afraid.