After Warp’s first great generation of thought-provoking producers from the 90s; Autechre, Aphex Twin, Squarepusher and Boards Of Canada, there’s only one artist who showed up later, but institutionalised his own unique sound at similar rate. Chris Clark is possibly the last big shoot on Warp’s experimental branch: with six albums of thick, synth-driven brutal electronica, intersected with extreme musicality and a wide range of abstract rhythmic patterns from IDM-ish normality of broken beats to harsh, rock-drill techno, his work is for careful study and his previous albums “Body Riddle” and “Turning Dragon” still stand as masterpieces of the ’00s.
Clark’s sound is always evolving, though the success of his sixth album “Iradelphic” (2012), and its genre-changing attempt to swap his artificial beats with pastoral landscapes and neo-folk acoustics, remains dubious. Despite its high accessibility, the album often met with confused reviews arguing about its accessibility and safeness, and was marked as a mixed bag of highs and lows. This might be the reason why he is partly returning to his older-self now with his seventh, eponymous album, and its preliminary pitch “More Berghain than Guggenheim” has created certain expectations.
Clark’s seventh album does sound Berghain-inspired with its less-art-more-dancefloor orientated approach. “Unfurla” and “The Grit In The Pearl” are two of Clark’s most 4/4 based pieces, richly packed of elaborately arranged samples and layers, consummated by elevated melodies. Their fullness of content calls for remixes aiming for experiencing things in different context, which are somehow rare in Clark’s discography. Searching for more banging themes reveals more goodies: “Sodium Trimmers” is as savage as anything on Turning Dragon, while Banjo’s electro-styled breakbeats have a refreshing effect after some minutes of straightness.
The end result partly has the same effect as Iradelphic. Clark is searching for new ideas, yet this time there is more from his older self (Winter Linn, Beacon or the perfect ambient closure Everlane are very ‘Clarkish’). Clark’s new album reflects the Zeitgeist of our time, making Clark a stand-out record of 2014, not his best to date, but definitely a slow-burner.
Clark is released on the 3rd November 2014 through Warp Records. Order a vinyl copy of the album from Bleep.com