Release Date: Nov 4, 2014
Record label: Warp
Genre(s): Electronic, Techno, Club/Dance, Experimental Techno, Ambient Techno
When Chris Clark first emerged onto the electronic scene around the turn of the century, his almost louche approach to IDM appealed most obviously because of its intense accessibility, but by the time Body Riddle was unveiled in 2006 it was clear that Clark was also a cut above most of his peers when it came to sheer technical and compositional wizardry. There are more ideas presented in many of Clark’s songs than some similar artists manage to get across over the course of an entire record. Ideas, however, can often present problems as well as solutions.
It's been a busy couple of months for Warp, first ushering Aphex Twin's return to the limelight and then releasing Flying Lotus' post-jazz magnum opus, You're Dead!. While the two aforementioned records might draw more press, it's Clark who scales the podium with his eponymous release. Recorded over a four-month period, in a barn outside the secluded English town of Newton, Clark is an icy fiend, rife with harrowing tones and zeniths of coarse techno.
The world is ending, and Chris Clark is writing its soundtrack. In the 35-year-old electronic producer’s latest dystopian vision, the Earth’s layers peel back with painstaking certainty while everything else bursts and pops in unrest. Temperatures flash between frostbite and flame. There are moments of unsettling calm, only to be ruptured by bruised sky, acid rain, famine, disease.
As is the case with a significant portion of the Warp Records roster, Clark is one of those artists who is revered in electronic music circles as one of the pioneers of the genre. Yet he has left it till now, on his eighth full-length, to name an album eponymously. This is a bold move, a tactic usually only employed by new artists or those looking back at their careers.
In order to give the latest self-titled record by Clark all the praise that it’s due, I feel like I must first go back. Go back, perhaps to the very beginning and spend hours listening again. I’ve always enjoyed Chris Clark’s flavour of IDM-meets-techno with its glitchy synth-swirling roughness around the edges, hiding its musical fidelity and beauty beneath the many layers of delicious grime.
As signaled by the March 2014 non-album single "Superscope," Chris Clark opted to turn sharply away from the oft-idyllic, sometimes pastoral sound of his 2012 album Iradelphic and its accompanying Fantasm Planes EP. The producer captioned a trailer for this, his seventh Warp album, with "More Berghain than Guggenheim," referencing Berlin's techno nerve center while alluding to his new material's dancefloor appeal. The majority of Clark indeed supplies numerous robust rhythms that are among his most physical and stimulating.
Even compared to fellow Warp artists like Aphex Twin or Squarepusher, Chris Clark has a particularly forbidding aura. His early work, for all its melodic exuberance, occupied a testing space between techno and brain-melting IDM, a sound his non-existent public persona did nothing to soften. Clark never had a cult hit that broke his name to a wider audience, nor has he gotten involved in the wacky, provocative projects that have helped build legends around Tom Jenkinson and Richard D.
He’s an old hand at this lark, is Chris Clark, having signed for Warp back in 2000. Fast-forward 14 years and he’s still at it, this self-titled effort marking his seventh full-length release on the label. His is a catalogue that embodies a measured approach to electronic music: intelligent yet accessible, subtle yet thudding, technical yet danceable.
Out with the old? Not quite yet. Before the year fully gears up, this Playlist lingers over some albums from 2014 that earned some belated notice — and welcomes some 2015 albums that defy the January doldrums. Jazmine Sullivan’s third studio album, “Reality Show” (RCA), to be released this ….
Clark — Clark (Warp)Even though he continually pans the IDM acronym in interviews, (Christopher Stephen) Clark makes intelligent dance music. While the pristine, booming bass drums and slamming snares are to die for, his color palette and production value (whoever is mastering his records deserves a sloppy kiss) seem to defy the limits of sound-system capabilities. Further, he is able to wrap virtuosic programming and peculiar experimentation into this mix and construct an oblique union that is still organic.His melodies are pleasantly twisted with microtonality, vocals endure an intense screening process and genres blend i.e.
Chris Clark cuts a strange figure; signed to Warp Records at the tail-end of their late 90s IDM heyday, he's subsequently carved out a niche for himself in successful but unassuming fashion. His seven albums to date have all been ambitious, meticulously crafted and popular, but he never seems to have been celebrated quite as widely or fervently as Warp's other long-standing grandees. This is possibly something of an injustice.