- The first Claro Intelecto album, the electro-dubtronica record Neurofibro, came out four years ago. Since then, Mark Stewart has relocated from Ai Records to the deeper trenches of Manchester’s Modern Love, which last year put out his much drooled over Warehouse Sessions series. Pounding, floor-friendly and sharply produced, that series of four 12-inches delved into the darker sides of techno and electro, but Metanarrative is something different again. Where the Warehouse Sessions were functional, Metanarrative is emotional, although, in typical Claro Intelecto style, it is an album distilled from an extensive array of influences—electro, IDM, Detroit techno, Berlin dub techno.
Outside club forays, Stewart tends to hang his productions on obscure references such as names of philosophers, diseases and personal events in his life, and Metanarrative is no exception. The last track, ‘Beautiful Death’ is even a paean on the death of his grandmother. Like Neurofibro, the entire album has an odd atmosphere of disease/atrophy that makes it a fairly melancholy affair.
Metanarrative can be divided neatly into two halves so distinct they could be separate mini-albums. The first four tracks are melodic, warm and driven by heavy beats that dip into the electro-techno crossover Stewart’s known for—all wistful chord progressions and padded bass. Of these tracks, ‘Harsh Reality’ is good, while the others are just average.
The second half seems like the real album. ‘Gone to the Dogs’ immediately sets a different tone, swelling around a deep, dubby low end that Modern Love has really pushed over the last year. ‘Nodrex’ carries quick percussive triplets over deep, swelling bass and blue chord washes, while ‘Dependant’ also pulses with low-end propulsiveness and gaseous hisses that are so present in the label’s sound—it’s the standout track of the second half, and as such has already had a limited, single side release on vinyl.
Metanarrative arcs through Stewart’s past accomplishments, distilling bits and pieces into a short collection. At forty minutes, it’s certainly concise, and after the wheat and chaff part ways, what you’re left with is rather spare for an album reportedly culled from over a hundred tracks.
02 Harsh Reality
04 Before My Eyes
05 Gone To The Dogs
08 Beautiful Death