Clark – Clark
Naming your seventh album eponymously sends out a serious message for an artist. Does Clark (aka Chris Clark) feel that this album sums up his entire oeuvre, and has come to a state of objectivity about himself as an artist? Alternatively, is Clark just getting lazy and running out of names for stuff? Clark signifies the former, a brilliant summation of both the electronic producer’s more “clubby” and more “atmospheric” styles.
Electronic music producers, especially ones with affectations for techno, have a tendency to sacrifice their 130bpm dancefloor bangers when it comes to releasing an album. This is not without good reason too, as eight ten minute long four-four techno tunes don’t really give an album any sense of flow and tend to just be a random assortment of tracks. Full lengths this year from Objekt, Max Graef and Call Super have all seen their usual floor-fillers replaced by the sounds more traditionally suitable to the album format such as IDM and hip-hop. Clark could have taken this easy route out, making just another IDM album as he has done in the past, but instead looks not only to his more ambient roots but also his more recent (excellent) traditional techno tunes such as ‘Superscope’ and ‘Rift Through the Fog.’
Clark’s trick in assembling the album isn’t to try and overload single tracks with both styles, instead switching between the two, painting a beautiful soundscape. Colourful lead single, and nourishing DJ food, ‘Unfurla’ is followed by the perfect ‘Strength Through Fragility’ which for about ninety percent of the song is just a piano solo. These two songs could have been made by entirely different artists and really should be put on two separate albums. Clark makes the tracks make more sense here than they could in any other circumstances, elevating the already excellent songs to new heights.
‘Snowbird’ has to be the album’s true standout. It is not the obvious climax that ‘There’s A Distance In You’ represents, instead it somehow manages to be the best electronic Christmas song to ever exist. Chopped up carolling vocals, brutal organ noises, and ominous drums, surround and confound the listener in a transfixing manner. The finishing touches are beautiful bells giving the song a sense of melancholy as they falter towards the end, and the song has me praying that England will see snow this year just so I can walk around with my headphones on and this on repeat.
Clark truly does have something for fans of both persuasions. The more ambitious DJs out there will find enough here to sneak into their sets, whilst the fedora wearing pipe smokers can wisely listen to this album in their drawing rooms. Alternatively, this is the perfect album for people who don’t feel the need to pigeon-hole themselves with their tastes, and are ready to be wowed.