There was a flurry of thunderstorm warnings and a tornado watch on this November afternoon. Then the sky turned black and exploded with summer rain. Everything feels out of season these days, slightly out of step. I keep waiting to click into a groove and return to some familiar rhythm, but this might be a fantasy.

It’s Saturday night, and a familiar melody started looping in the background of my usual head noise, something sleazy and a little menacing. It took some work to track it down, and it was worth the effort: Kit Clayton’s “Belt Frictional Problem,” a luxuriant synthesizer workout from the overlooked Too Many Clowns, Not Enough Jokers compilation released over twenty years ago. This piece of Detroit vinyl had everything: a glitchy clown graphic on the label, lock grooves, and tracks that played inside out. This is the sound of late-night Michigan radio, of mysterious transmissions that felt like they were pushing us towards a better future: streamlined and anonymous, faceless and collective. This is the nostalgic music of my youth.

Kit Clayton – Belt Frictional Problem

Too Many Clowns, Not Enough Jokers | Throw/Twilight 76, 1999