Release Date: Apr 3, 2012
Record label: Warp
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance
ClarkIradelphic[Warp; 2012]By Josh Becker; April 23, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetMP3: Clark - "Com Touch" “Henderson Wrench,” the opener to Chris Clark’s latest Warp Records offering, Iradelphic, begins not with the burst of distorted electronica that defined his previous album Totem Flare, but rather with… a fingerpicked guitar. It sounds like a goddamn banjo. Is this the sign of a mellower — dare I say gentler — Clark release? The Right to Children-aping BBC synths and breathy, distant female vocals of the following track “Com Touch” would seem to answer with a nostalgically inclined yes.
According to various Twitter feeds, IDM producer and Warp Records mainstay Clark—first name Chris—has named his new album Iradelphic as “an homage to the neglected people of Iradelphia”. This begs the question: what and where the hell is Iradelphia? Is it a variation on the London district of Adelphi? An allusion to classical notions of brotherhood? A tribute to the Roots? Google searches and tossed-off queries to the artist himself shed zero light on the matter, which dignifies the suspicion that he’s joking. This very real possibility provides an interesting perspective for Iradelphic, which marks a departure for the often oblique knob-twister.
Chris Clark is currently like the favourite uncle of the Warp family. It’s easy to imagine him lovingly telling HudMo and Rustie to turn down their heavy, maximalist dance a bit, and at the upcoming Bloc Weekender he’ll go home to read about quantum mechanics instead of getting ROFLcoptered until 6am. But even his own description of this album as “glowing, whole, invincible, complete” sounds like a luxury anti-ageing cream rather than something to get excited about.
After dropping the first name from his artistic moniker, both Chris Clark’s alias and musical output became more precise, painting with darker, more meticulous tones. On Iradelphic, the recent installment in his increasingly impressive Warp Records canon, Clark’s weavings of cool-hue electronics and soft-spoken analog instrumentation come together to simply create a solid, if not amazing, 40 minutes. In a way, that doesn’t hit you until the last decaying washes of synths and silence in “Broken Kite Footage” dry up.
Both consumers and producers of electronic music swear by the principle of perpetual change, as if the words were tattooed on their foreheads. Even for someone who's situated within a culture that's constantly looking around the bend, though, Chris Clark is a particularly restless artist. Over the last decade as a Warp recording artist, the English producer's carved an idiosyncratic path for himself, many of his full-lengths containing an elegant, impeccably refined version of a particular style that's more or less discarded by the time the next release rolls around.
Richard D. James has grown silent… In order to hear Clark’s chin-stroking IDM in its proper context, you have to listen to it resound out of the empty space left by Apex Twin’s lengthening absence from every good music geek’s Amoeba shopping bag. For years, James has been telling us that he is sitting on a goldmine of “about 1,000” unreleased tracks and six unreleased albums, but the contrarian insists on keeping them under wraps, unheard.
What to do when your brand of hyper-spastic IDM is approaching irrelevancy? Clark has been wrestling with this problem since the fantastic but overwhelming Turning Dragon in 2006. His 2012 answer? A mid-'90s-leaning downtempo record. An odd and unexpected move, but that's essentially what Chris Clark's sixth album tries to be. It's drastically nostalgic—as if he's been bitten by the same hypnagogic bug that seems to be eating away at Planet Mu and Hyperdub.
Clark's production skills on Totems Flare, Body Riddle or Clarence Park are so pronounced that you almost want to pick your favourite note in the world and ask him to record it for you, on continuous loop, so you can listen to it forever. But appreciation of Chris Clark's music so often focuses on his production skills, to the detriment of an appreciation of his performance. With Iradelphic, which has evolved out of Clark's live shows, marks a change and may be a little surprising to longstanding fans of the man – it's less ethereal, more compact and cohesive than the electronic experiments of Clarence Park.
Electronic albums usually (or at least try to) fall into one of two camps: collections of genre-defined singles or cohesive, album-length visions. Clark's Iradelphic conveniently falls into the neither category. Warp Records lifer Chris Clark's sixth LP works more like a random collection of ideas completely independent from each other, collected over 12 three- and four-minute increments.
A shift of pace from the Warp artist produces some interesting results. Chris Parkin 2012 It’s interesting to note that the sleeve housing Chris Clark’s latest (sixth) album was designed by Ghost Box co-founder Julian House. That label’s USP is a thing called – ahem – hauntology, in which artists such as Belbury Poly stir electronic music and fragments of pop and public service ephemera into a heady, pastoral, melancholy brew.