Clark – Clark (Warp Records / Inertia)



When UK-based electronic producer Chris Clark first emerged back in 2001 on Warp with his debut album ‘Clarence Park’ his intricate IDM-based arrangements, whilst impressive, often felt like they were riding in the wake of more feted labelmates like Aphex Twin and Plaid. In the almost decade and a half since though he’s certainly gained ground, going on to release five more albums that have explored distinctly different styles and moods (indeed, the ever restless Clark seems constantly intent on discarding whatever aesthetic he’s built up with each ensuing album before creating the next one. This latest, seventh self-titled album is certainly no different. While 2012’s preceding ‘Iradelphic’ album saw Clark getting hazy, abstracted and nostalgic, this latest collection is a far more dark, streamlined and futuristic beast. It’s also easily Clark’s most dance-centric album for some time, with discernible techno and electro influences seeping into many of the thirteen tracks collected here.

After ‘Ship Is Flooding’ opens proceedings with an impressive bleed of orchestral textures and shimmering ambient electronics that sounds like it could have stepped straight off the score to a Kubrick film, ‘Winter Linn’ places a pneumatic kickdrum pulse beneath layers of gauzy distorted synths and what almost sounds like the eerie background swell of choral voices, before delicate synth arpeggios send things off into darkly pretty territory against increasingly steely handclaps. ‘Unfurla’ gets more stripped back and techno oriented, sending a jittery 4/4 pulse rattling against a vaguely Detroit-tinged synth motif, phased sweeps and rattling, glassy percussion textures as moody bass stabs echo in the distance in what’s easily one of this album’s most streamlined dancefloor-oriented moments.

Elsewhere, ‘Sodium Trimmers’ propels things off on a rattling ride through thumping Berlin-touched techno rhythms and dark EBM-centred bass arpeggios that sees the entrance of howling treated vocal textures pushing the fear factor up a few notches before things suddenly drop into a writhing breakdown section. ‘Banjo’ meanwhile unleashes the sort of menacing breaker’s electro you’d expect military robots to pop and lock to, as harsh distorted snare bursts get twisted into digital mush against dark zapping synths and growling bass tones, in what’s easily this album’s most tensely funky moment. This spectacular album from Clark provides his most visceral collection since ‘Turning Dragon’, marrying his intricate sound design and deep emotional scope to some of the most muscular arrangements he’s crafted for a while. ‘Clark’ could easily be the best IDM / techno-related release I’ve heard this year.


About Author

A dastardly man with too much music and too little time on his hands