By: Tommy Walzer
I often find myself getting lost in the ocean of “wave” suffixes attributed to EDM these days. While today’s youth will try to ride a new wave off of anything slightly incomparable, Clark’s self-titled eighth album is stamped with a mark that is uniquely Clark. Subtly drawing from many areas of electronic music, the British producer crafts an album that is diverse and cohesive throughout 13 tracks perfect for ushering in the bleak and entrancing ambiance of winter. I would say the best way to describe it is “curious” – each track fits together well with the next, yet subtly deviates from expectations.
Listening to a track like “Sodium Trimmers,” I’m guided by a steady house beat tinged with in-and-out synths that bring to mind a suspenseful video game. Towards the end, the track takes a dark turn accentuated by an eerily distorted vocal sample put on loop. Nods to ambient pioneer and Warp Records label mate Aphex Twin can be heard throughout the album on songs like “Beacon” and “There’s A Distance In You,” which develop with no distinct structure. Mastering that lack of rigidity can be hard to do without making music that’s too outlandishly abstract (although I’d probably still listen to it).
Clark does a good job keeping his soundscapes open and airy while incorporating prominent beats that serve as familiar backbones. Simply by its nature, I don’t think Clark is club-worthy, but there are one or two tracks I would love to be surprised by in a mix. “Silvered Iris” is probably the best example of this; I could definitely see the likes of Ryan Hemsworth dropping it in a set, preferably right at the smacking tempo switch about two thirds of the way through. “Winter Linn” would be another; it’s thick bass takes it a level beyond chill-wave but keeps its maturity above that of dubstep. It’s details like this that make Clark fun through its rather mysterious tone. Well, that and “Snowbird,” with its uplifting “chirps” and whimsical chimes.
It’s the diverse palette of electronic influences that keep this album interesting and most importantly, unique. A sort of thematic continuity is definitely present, but at the same time every track is so different if you listen closely. I recommend this album to anyone willing to step outside of the box and into beautifully intricate, organic soundscapes with a bare bones feel. Clark is rich in layers and sequences, but not boastful. This is sophisticated EDM, but it’s got something fans of all its subgenres can enjoy. If you want to go on a musical adventure, put this on on a cold winter day and go about your daily routine. Unexpected evocations will follow.
Tommy is a junior from Highland Park, IL. He is currently studying communications, and hopes to one day turn his musically dictated life into a productive career. He believes that he can play drums and freestyle rap quite well, and can be seen performing in your friend’s basement on weekends. He sheds a tear every time he puts on his Joan Baez vinyl, and is currently searching for a friend he can discuss black metal with.