Clockwork: B.O.A.T.S.
Life and Death

Clockwork's B.O.A.T.S. (Based On A True Story) undergoes multiple stylistic twists and turns over the course of its seventy-minute run. And though Italian duo Francesco Leali and Federico Maccherone contend that their debut album is, in fact, based on a true story, its meaning probably will remain a mystery to pretty much everyone except Clockwork. Not that it matters when the disc—the first full-length release on Life and Death, incidentally—offers thirteen polished samplings of the duo's soulful deep house style.

“First Floor” eases the listener into its sound-world with a deep dub-techno excursion heavy on crackling textures and body-moving pulsation, something that the exuberant “Second Floor” naturally follows up on midway through the disc in even more aggressive fashion. It's in this sinuous club throwdown that Clockwork's sleek sound is realized in its most powerful form. Variety arrives in the form of guest appearances, with Chasing Kurt (the sultry vocal jam “Running Searching”), Avatism (the serpentine, synth-heavy banger “The Quiet Hour”), and Clarian (ex- Footprintz) along for the ride and helping to keep the listener engaged. In addition, there's a soulful fusion of deep house and Burial-styled garage (“Places”), while, in an unusual juxtaposition, “This World Is Not Designed For Us” pairs shuffling breakbeats with Clarian's delicate vocalizing.

Leali and Maccherone bring a goodly amount of craft to their productions, and consequently B.O.A.T.S. impresses as something more than just ravers churned out like, well, clockwork to satisfy the clubbing crowd. In “Subterfuge,” for example, real-world noises are looped to form a thick textural base for a piano-driven house jam, while a similarly detailed backdrop is fashioned from (what sounds like) samples and found sounds for the synthesizer-based meditation “Prisms.” Like many an electronic outfit well-schooled in digital production methods, Clockwork is deft at threading real-world sounds such as clicks and whirrs into its arrangements (rattling keys in “Lost Keys,” for example), and even a floorfiller as straight-up as “Oblique” is given an ear-catching twist in the textural elements that the duo slips into its design. There's more of B.O.A.T.S. than necessary—certainly ten tracks would have been enough for the group's debut album—but the collection nevertheless impresses for the quality of its craft and stylistic breadth.

May 2013