Clark :: Clark (Warp)

Where previous Clark albums consciously tried to destroy the listener’s eardrums, Clark invites you to revel in the magnificence of structure.

Who is Chris Clark? The once young signee to Warp Record’s roster has been constantly evolving in ways that often seem unpredictable. Clark’s first releases combined his penchant for wild IDM and bass heavy beats. But with Clark (2014), the question is once again completely reframed. Like Legion, Clark seems to answer “we are many” with confidence and the tranquility of an artist that can change at any given second. For many, the shift will not be that much surprising, Clark’s choice of singles this year, as well as his recent Superscope EP, presents the new form has taken, a disciplined mix with techno structures and IDM arrangements.

But Clark’s transformation has as much to do with his self-image as with his new musical output. Clark’s album cover can be taken as signifying the structural darkness Clark the artist has been effortlessly trying to reach. Opening track “Ship is Flooding” demonstrates the composer’s gestures towards ambient. “Winter Linn” on the other hand has just the kind of crunchy synths one has come to expect from Clark, but the track doesn’t rip its way through quite like Totems Flare’s “Growls Garden” as much as it expansively explores the structure of the track. Each element unfolds with care and utmost precision. Where previous Clark albums consciously tried to destroy the listener’s eardrums, Clark invites you to revel in the magnificence of structure.

Such careful approach can be appreciated in tracks like “Strength Through Fragility”, where simply felt piano keys repeat themselves to ease the listener into “Sodium Trimmers,” a remarkable track in an album full of them. Clark revitalizes a genre that seems to move ever so slowly toward its disintegration with tracks like “Banjo.” A trippy, at times disorienting, techno track that closes up the first half of the album with the technique of a master. With tracks like “Snowbird,” “Beacon” and “Petroleum Tinged” Clark shows he can approach noise and ambient with the same meticulousness he can approach techno. Closing tack “Everlane” soothes you back into the world with choral voices that resemble an glacial take on Kenji Kawai’s “Kugutsuuta ura mite chiru.”

So who is Chris Clark? One supposes the correct answer would be something akin to a musical polymath. This, however, does not mean he is an unfocused mess, as polymathy often signals; rather, it means Clark is knowledgeable and experienced enough to construct an album that manages to dip into different genres and still sound cohesive. All of his experiments are affirmed in one voice.

Clark is available on Warp.

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1 Comment

  1. Nice review of a new name to me. Clark seems to be getting quite some press recently. This is my first visit to Igloo Mag proper after knowing about it for years and you didn’t disappoint me. Thanks for that. :)

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