Sounds of Nostalgia | “Crash Pad/King for a Day” – George Clanton & Nick Hexum


Matt Cruz, Writer/Volunteer

George Clanton and Nick Hexum’s double single “Crash Pad/King for a Day” highlights the versatile and nostalgically ubiquitous sounds at the cutting edge of underground electronica.

Over the past few years, George Clanton has risen from a little known chillwave producer in the niche underground of electronica, to a visionary figurehead in the vaporwave genre. Clanton rose to prominence under the moniker Esprit空想, via his project, which is widely seen as one of the micro-genre’s most seminal releases. Known for his ethereal and Hiraeth-esque atmospheres demonstrated on albums such as 100% Electronica and Slide, Clanton meshes organic production with the soundscapes of nostalgic reminiscence, creating an intentionally dated song cycle that is as abstract as it is concrete in its capture of the idyllic past.

As Clanton moves away from his otherwise spacious production, his instrumentals and layering become just as nuanced as they do noisey, creating a ghastly and reedy wall of sound tuned to the pings and alerts of America Online. His newest release, a collaboration with Nick Hexum of 311, the double single “Crash Pad/King For a Day” still encapsulates the nostalgic poignancy of his past discography while the satin sheet vocals of Hexum confidently reign in the chords and muted snares of future’s past.

Hexum opens “Crash Pad” with a boom-bap style flow, rapping, “I forgot to call you with the combination / you were stranded standing in precipitation.” His ode to living room shenanigans and the mistakes, or rather good times, they incubate.  He valiantly sings the hook, “Crashing at the pad / the best times we ever had,” which balances the pillowy fluttering chords raining on the instrumental with a sharp and descending guitar riff. Clanton’s instrumental slowly begins to reverse the crescendo that’s typical with him, and climatically strips itself of its effects – leaving a warm and passionate ripple that leaves the listener speechless.

Hexum’s deep sustained vocals sing on “King for a Day” harmonize with Clanton’s noisy and droning chords, creating a kaleidoscopic yet esoteric mass of hypnagogia throughout the track. Singing in a slack-jawed slur, Hexum refrains, “In the midst of it all / I’m still not afraid to take a fall / You take the good with the gray / That’s the thing between us I can relay.” His monotonous crooning highlights the dial-up circus of the instrumental superseding him. The reverb laden and washed out hook angelically buries the listener, softy sung, “King for a day / You’ll do anything I say,” with Hexum’s vocals taking a step back as Clanton’s instrumental begins to swell and mutate into a fluorescent digital graffiti. As quickly as it comes, the dot-com bubble being blown in front of your eyes bursts into a glimmering stardust of plastic and silicon. Rather than a sudden ‘pop’, it’s explosion comes off as a spectacular neon firework, painting the night sky with dazzling palettes and twinkling synths.

Clanton and Hexum bounce off of each other in an incredible dynamism, brilliantly solidifying their artistic potential. As time pushes forward, Clanton is proving himself to be one of the most uniquely cinematic musicians in the current wave of electronica; or rather, 100% electronica.

Featured image by Steele O’Neal; retrieved from Billboard.