“Delightfully teeters on the edge of chaos…” says music discovery blog Independent Clauses in its coverage of “Punching Clocks,” the debut single by
Portland-based duo CLIFFWALKER, out
“‘Punching Clocks’ is the sort of thing that the word
post-rock was made for. It’s rock put in the service of other moods. The
interplay of the leads produces the experience of a spy-movie chase scene.”
Clocks” by CLIFFWALKER at the
link above or here.
CLIFFWALKER “Painted Gray Sky” EP (S/R) June 24, 2022
01. Calm Sea 02. Painted Gray Sky 03. Reflected Sun (STREAM) 04. On Her Last Legs 05. Pulling Threads 06. Punching Clocks (STREAM)
CLIFFWALKER | About
CLIFFWALKER is not just a cool name for a band.
The Portland, Oregon-based instrumental duo of Cliff Hayes (Bass, Keys) and A. Walker Spring (Vibes, Drums, Keys,
Guitar) are just lucky to be named that way. To take the serendipity a step
(sorry, had to) further, the sound of the pair’s upcoming “Painted Gray Sky” EP (out June
24, 2022) is also edgy.
We can dispense with the puns now, let’s talk about
It’s like if a sexy Kraftwerk had joined in on the sessions with jazz legend Don Cherry and composer Ron Frangipane scoring Alejandro Jodorowsky’s “The Holy Mountain.”
Or maybe they picked up John Carpenter on the way to Tangerine
Dream’s studio to make the music for Michael
Mann’s neo-noir heist action thriller “Thief.”
The repeating riffs of minimalist composers such as Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and Terry
Riley are also touchstones, and for those born more recently, Hayes and Spring suggest that the instrumentation on “Painted Gray Sky” is in the vein of Tortoise, but driven by bass lines a la Death From Above 1979.
Either way, the 1970s are coming in hot, no matter
Skipping forward a half-century, CLIFFWALKER came to fruition under the gray skies of the Pacific
Northwest as Hayes was constructing
a “library of bass riffs” (“Cliff’s Riffs!”)
“My toying with riffs started to morph into learning
cover songs and then trying to cover these songs entirely on bass,” Hayes explains.
As it turns out, the “library of bass riffs” further
morphed into “Painted Gray Sky,” as
the melodic bass work of Hayes laid
the foundation for Spring’s hypnotic
vibraphone, guitar, and synth lines.
As well as playing in Portland’s beloved indie rock
outfit Point Juncture, WA since
2004, Spring has co-hosted a weekly
songwriting podcast since 2020 called “Honest
Jams,” where she’s honed a diverse set of arranging skills, which are given
free rein on “Painted Gray Sky.”
From Classical, through to Jazz and post-Rock,
instrumental music is not novel. It’s not Pop either, but here, CLIFFWALKER manages hooks without the
aid of vocals. This quality lets the natural rhythms of CLIFFWALKER’s songs shine without distraction.
And all of these references to musical genres count as
influences in the CLIFFWALKER sound.
was working to become a top-notch Jazz bassist in his early college years by
“practicing a lot of scales and arpeggios and reading a lot of charts,” he was
also immersed in all kinds of music as a record store employee, the guilty
party in so many musicians’ burgeoning career paths.
“Nearly all my waking moments were spent playing,
listening, or learning about music,” he remembers.
Hayes relocated to Portland in 2005 and some years later,
via fleeting meetings at the gigs of mutual friends, found himself in a
conversation about artificial intelligence (in 2014!) with a producer friend of Spring’s.
“I was discussing how AI could be created to produce
music by feeding it a library of riffs to train itself,” Hayes says.
Soon after, Hayes
started recording his riffs at home with this idea in mind, and eventually
wondered if Spring might be
interested in playing drums with him on some material.
“Before I left that first session, we had already
started recording the basic bass, drums and vibes that are on the final EP.”
Gray Sky” by CLIFFWALKER is scheduled for release on June 24, 2022 preceded by the singles “Punching Clocks” on May 13
and “Pulling Threads” on June 3. Members of CLIFFWALKER
are available for interviews. Contact Josh
Bloom at Fanatic for