Australasian cassette edition of Spencer Clark's (The Skaters) latest project.
released February 24, 2017
The Wire: "The World of Shells is the latest hermetic fantasy by visionary US ex-pat, Spencer Clark, working here under the relatively recent alias Typhonian Highlife. As with previous albums, Clark ascribes his inspiration to a surreal unconscious encounter: in this instance a netherworld visitor who instructed him to "animate a mask through the act of protoplasmic progression."
"The details of this process are as unknowable as the album itself. Warped crystal keys, regal drones, alien growls, synthetic toms, shivering insects and dripping water flow and flower in fits and starts, tracing the perimeter of some mystifying futuristic terrarium. In places, particularly the A side, Shells echoes the gilded Renaissance hallucinations of Clark's 2014 opus Pinhead in Fantasia (released under the moniker Fourth World Magazine) but the closing composition deviates distinctly. Apparently recorded in a Sicilian limestone cave named The Ear of Dionysus, the 15 minute "Oracle of Egret" patiently pitch shifts angelic choral samples into mutant vibrational waves, interwoven with trills of harp and pan flute presets, eventually dissolving in a rapture of wind tunnel noise and operatic voice. Even under shadow of Clark's vast discography the track feels fresh and limitless, like an emerging dialect."
Tiny Mix Tapes: "We all want to believe. There’s a feeling in us all that something exists without tangibility. Like sharing a yawn. Or vowing to/with another. The only other thing to despair upon you, dear reader, is the idea that there are a lot of things in existence you don’t know about [or whether or not you have faith in the unknown]. Try to follow along, because nobody will be able to explain themselves ever, forever.
"Spencer Clark’s methodology in The World of Shells was to fuse the musician’s personality to the creature, Chitahoori. Pinhead in Fantasia exists in the material world, which, according to its liner notes, “was in part a reaction to future monsters arriving in [his] dreams and instructing [him] to place them in a whole new locale, that being the renaissance.” It did, however, still focus on A New Image of Man. The World of Shells is that next step in not only taking a fuller effect on Spencer’s “presence” as a musician of the work, but a presence that atones for equal parts bene- and malevolent soundvisions. As Alistair Crowley conducted magical rituals for religious and individual purposes through the Typhonian Order, Spencer Clark uses the guise Typhonian Highlife to fully document the animation and protoplasmic progression to Chitahoori.
"You can read up on your shells or just believe my conciseness: shells are hardened balls of slime. They’re exoskeletons consisting of the ocean’s dustballs, only with intricate spirals of intangible architecture, channeling out sounds that echo through tiny, cavernous entities found throughout this great Earth. And when they emit sound, it’s through a variety of languages as per their found region. Simply put: shells “talk” in accents.
"Literally, with a name like The World of Shells — created by an entity that calls itself Typhonian Highlife — there’s a heavy emphasis on the “vocalization” of reticence, as if this entire album is constructed in coded language that provides magical and empirical evidence of [secrecy]. The signals crossed, all hope(s) faded, crippling cryptic melodies, “is it too white?” buried, Whoopi Goldberg, and stoked just enough that the ego is distributed, painted over, coerced, maligned, petrified, brought back, and ritually sacrificed and communioned. Typhonian Highlife is not only a single being, but a nut within The World of Shells.
"The World of Shells will not be summarized until centuries from now. Every audience is worthy of listening to and trying to understand what this crustaceous piece is trying to manifest. The conscious interpretation of Typhonian Highlife should be betrothed within an atmosphere of thy own. Whether it’s of multiple locations, people, theories, density/mass, artificiality, artifact, or [the like] worlds, attached now. The prince of darkness has graced the musical underworld once again."
Raven Sings The Blues: "Despite being a cornerstone of experimental synth and psychedelia, Spencer Clark is often overshadowed by his other half in seminal noise duo The Skaters. While James Ferraro’s rapid output often puts him the constant view of many hypnogogic collectors, Clark has quietly carved out a niche for himself that blends immersive synth, cult theories and several exotic locals, culminating in one of his best albums yet. Under the name Typhonian Highlife he’s built out three albums, with The World of Shells acting as a kind of completion and culmination of exploration that brought him to Sicilian Caves, Hanging Rock in Australia, H.R. Geiger’s castle and a massive aquatic environment to find inspiration.
"The band name itself derives from The Typhonian Order, a late nineteenth / early twentieth century group obsessed with The Occult that included Aleister Crowley as a leader in its final phases. Clark marries this fascination with yet another pulled from stories of the Chitauri, an alien reptile race that controls humanity from the shadows (the kind that inspired lizard people, Illuminati types of conspiracy theories). But Clark doesn’t just dive into the tin foil hat theories of sub-Reddit’s backwaters; he jumps off of the stories of Credo Mutwa, Crowley and oddly the ’90s TV show Alien Nation to create his own pulsating world centered around demonic faces from his own dreams that he’s given the name Chitahoori.
"Now all that backstory is all well and good, but how does it translate to sound? Quite incredibly, actually. With all the cult imagery in place, Clark then winds his way through a synthetic world that feels damp, cold and glowing of its own volition. While he may be focusing on the auras of demonic masks in its construction, on the receiving end it comes across as a soundtrack to the kinds of natural oddities that populate The Mariana Trench. The World of Shells is full of shadows darkened by deep set drone, fluttering syths set a alight by perfectly curated sampling and Clark’s own sense of wonder that’s transmitted in each and every note. Utilizing an E-Max II, a vintage ’90s sampling keyboard, he stacks sound on sound until there’s no room for the listener to escape. He scampers through his vast wasteland of damp damage until it culminates in the fifteen plus minute epic, “Oracle Of Egret” which bursts from the cold darkness into an arid environment, ostensibly cowering at the foot of massive gold alien idols that are given life through the echoing vocals of Nour Mobarak. Clark may not always inhabit the same casual conversations as Ferraro, but this album is a strong argument to correct that injustice."