From the get-go there’s something gleefully sinister about Clark‘s eponymous seventh album, which is easy to get lost in with its undulating synths and shine-through-the-dark key tones. Intrinsically impish and a tad mischievous, Clark tricks you into initially thinking of it as a tangled mess of programming, though you’re soon forced to realize the level of technical skill involved in a production this layered and multifaceted.
A dense, chaotic work that at its core relies on the instinctive urge to dance, it’s very Warp in the sense that it’s a dash of avant-garde rooted in conventional Euro-club. Yet thankfully, it’s missing the sort of barbed vehemence that pervades a lot of turbulent, techno-tinged music—though that still doesn’t prevent it from pulling out all the overdramatic stops.
Beginning with the morose “Ship Is Flooding” (which is just as Titanic-levels of tragedy and black-eyed billowing as you’d imagine it to be), it’s all soon overtaken by the thumping bass of an icy “Winter Linn”, which pummels forth without apology or hesitation. A dark exploration of the Berghain-esque underbelly of techno club, it’s a twisted “post-rave” experience that can probably only be explained by the ghostly, Ouija whispers emanating from the elusive vocal sample that flit across the track.
However, as mentioned before, one of Clark’s strengths is his ability to program something with so many different off-kilter elements that tracks like “There’s A Distance In You” and “Banjo” end up seeming impossibly labyrinthian. Twisted and sinister, they’re both appropriate examples of the album as a whole, as they both navigate the fine line between the spontaneous and the standardized with their skittering synths and rapid fire accent notes. A technical feat that’s a key component missing from many an average IDM album.
Clark does have a softer, less intimidating side though, as proven by tracks like “Unfurla” and “Beacon”, which is almost Philip Glass-ian in its undulating ambience. Burbling until it melts into a ghostly puddle of breathy, moan-like samples and what sounds distinctly like programmed harp strings, it’s one of several tracks that almost make you feel like there may be a little natural inspiration buried somewhere in Clark’s imagined industrial wasteland.
Equal parts nighttime and nightmare, it’s an incongruous take on post-techno club that somehow feels fragile in its schizoid splits and jagged, see-saw synths. A hypnotic example of something that is breathtaking in its slant on the traditional and yet still completely unexpected to the average club-dwelling kid.