f5point6 - Clinical Trials
Released: June 9
In the follow-up to last year's A Matter of Light and Depth, f5point6 (R. Cleveland Aaron) brings us something new and slightly more sinister as we follow the story of a young girl named Raluna as she participates in a government funded clinical trial, hence the album's title Clinical Trials. Aaron tells us this story through the use of spacey synth lead and the use of vague vocal snippets that bring on a feeling of disorientation and confusion, putting us directly in the headspace that Raluna finds herself in during these trials. The setting is quite ambiguous, giving the impression that no one person participating quite knows what the purpose of the study is - a test of new medication or simple observation of the individuals? It remains unclear throughout, perhaps intentionally.
The album opens up with the seemingly serene "17 Days and 16 Nights," an allusion to the length of the program. But as we move into the second track "Second to the Intended," there begins a strange and nefarious subplot emerging as randomized and glitched vocals begin to illuminate the inner monologue of Raluna, questioning if this is simply a dream and what may become of her through this. This persistent feeling of ambiguity persists throughout the entire album, all the way to the final track, aptly named "Thank You for Your Participation." While the storyline revolves around the conflict between society and the individual, the actual dynamic does not seem so clear cut. All while there is a nefarious undertone of seeking control and inducing passivity, there is also a strange serenity that can be found in virtually every track. This made me wonder, is this conflict real or imagined? But perhaps that is the message behind all of this, the fact that you can never be completely certain. Or, at least that's what I got out of this experience.