Albums don't have to meet certain length requirements to be effective. Minor Threat's self-titled first EP clocks in at just a hair under 10 minutes. Future's Hndrxx weighs in at a corpulent 68 minutes, and every minute is essential.
Music needs only to match the scope of its intentions. When a record does that, its length is irrelevant. With Clout Atlas :: Dormiveglia, that's certainly the case.
At a lean 15 minutes, Clout Atlas showcases three of Portland's brightest talents—R&B singer Blossom, quick-tongued MC Ripley Snell and Eyrst's resident genius producer, Neill Von Tally. It's a brief but potent EP. The four tracks exemplify why Blossom and Snell are two of the city's most compelling artists, and how Von Tally's slow, simmering sound is shaping the landscape of Rip City rap. But the whole is larger than the sum of the parts. Clout Atlas feels like a rich daydream—it doesn't last long but feels like a lifetime.
Snell's percussive delivery punctuates Von Tally's diffuse, sometimes sleepy beats and imbues them with life. Snell raps with a rare exuberance. He lets language chase sound in a playful, curious way, almost as if he's playing Mad Libs with himself. The result is sometimes incongruous yet charming. On "Trader Joe's," Snell rhymes "pterodactyl" with "terrible rapper," and on "Dormiveglia," he simply free-associates: "Black tar, guitar, Reptar, dinosaur, let me borrow your car, let me borrow your car."
Like Eyrst labelmate Myke Bogan, though, Snell undercuts the joyful, good-times-chasing lyrics with insightful, often biting observations. On "Trader Joe's," Snell touches on gentrification: "I wanted a Trader Joe's/But as soon as I got a Trader Joe's/I couldn't afford to live in my home."
The first three of the EP's four songs follow a pattern: Snell raps, Blossom sings the hook. But on the last song, "Dormiveglia," Blossom takes the reins. Inspired by a shroom-spiked nap in the studio, she sings about the intoxication of dreams with a voice both delicate and powerful. Underneath the sharp, hand-clap beat, there's a languid piano that sounds as if it was recorded through a wall.
Blossom is the type of singer who has the elasticity to whisper softly or bellow triumphantly. On "Dormiveglia," her delivery is somewhere between a spoken-word poem and airy incantation. "My lover daydream/Keep my head above the clouds," she sings on the chorus.
Even in its sleepiest moments, Clout Atlas :: Dormiveglia's version of daydreaming isn't vapid escapism—it's a necessary reprieve.
SEE IT: Blossom plays Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St., holocene.org, with Sheers and VNPRT, on Wednesday, July 25. 9 pm. Free. 21+.