Clark, Iradelphic

Rob Young

By Rob Young

on 04.05.12 in Reviews

If Chris Clark’s sixth album sounds all over the place, it’s probably because that’s where it was recorded. The British electronic musician grabbed whatever session time he could while on the road in Australia, Berlin, Wales, Brussels, Suffolk, Cornwall, Norway and London. The result has little thematic or aural unity, but that only adds to its eclectic appeal.

Distinctive, confident, impossible to dismiss

Clark’s production style is vivid, close-up, almost three-dimensional in places. Using 1950s microphones, crumbling cassette tape and sampling his own live drumming, he never gives the impression of going for the easy preset or reaching for that “vintage keys” patch — you can feel that the sounds are worked at, and hard won. The folksy acoustic guitar he sprinkles over “Henderson Wrench” and “Tooth Moves” was self-taught over the past year, aided by Welsh labelmate Bibio, whose own soft-focus, tape-damaged guitar approach has seeped into the corners of several Clark tracks here.

His fingerpicking — yoked to deep, plunging beats — also shapes a smoky pair of songs sung by Martina Topley-Bird, “Open” and “Secret,” the second of which whips away the curtain to reveal some “ba-ba-ba”-s pitted against muddy electronic gurgles. Most impressive, though, is “The Pining,” a hypnotic three-movement suite built on tightly-wound Latinesque rhythms, pinging jabs of analogue synths and intricate percussion subroutines.

As he joined the Warp stable long after the label’s IDM heyday, it’s been easy to dismiss Clark as something of a johnny-come-lately, but Iradelphic‘s distinctive, confident sound world has traveled a long way from his techno origins and forces you to take notice.