- Even compared to fellow Warp artists like Aphex Twin or Squarepusher, Chris Clark has a particularly forbidding aura. His early work, for all its melodic exuberance, occupied a testing space between techno and brain-melting IDM, a sound his non-existent public persona did nothing to soften. Clark never had a cult hit that broke his name to a wider audience, nor has he gotten involved in the wacky, provocative projects that have helped build legends around Tom Jenkinson and Richard D. James. Instead, he's quietly gone about his business in relative obscurity.
That's a pity, as in reality Clark is a shape-shifter who has subtly reinvented himself across seven albums. Skidding, swerving and roaring as if in a race against time itself, his cinematically dramatic self-titled LP features many of his hallmarks: quasi-classical grandeur, complex beats that twist the blood, jabbering computerised melodies. But with the odd exception, such as the gorgeous "Snowbird," those signatures are integrated with highly unexpected influences to exhilarating ends.
If 2012's Iradelphic was, as Andrew Ryce interpreted it, Clark's trip-hop album, this record seems inspired by bass music. The tracks are generally short and given to abrupt mood changes. By the time we get to "The Grit In The Pearl," Clark is toying with garage cadences and Rustie-sized synths. "Silvered Iris" might itch like multiplying IDM bacteria, but with its steel-drum sonics stretched over a clipping beat, you could imagine Joy Orbison closing a set with it. Even more surprising are the opening tracks "Winter Linn" and "Unfurla," which build to a peak of tranced-out euphoria.
There are tougher, stranger tracks, too. "Sodium Trimmers" refracts Berlin techno through a distorting IDM lens to create a moment of weirded-out beauty. "Banjo" starts out as an elastic spasm of Detroit electro but, in classic Rephlex-style, quickly morphs into a head-fuck of slippery beats and queasy bleeps. But even when Clark is firing sounds at bewildering speeds, it's never a chore—in other words, it's a lot more fun than Clark's reputation might suggest.
01. Ship Is Flooding
02. Winter Linn
04. Strength Through Fragility
05. Sodium Trimmers
08. The Grit In The Pearl
10. Petroleum Tinged
11. Silvered Iris
12. There's A Distance In You