When Chris Clark released his debut album Clarence Park in 2001, it slipped out unheralded and didn’t garner a great deal of attention. It was a collection of short, gleaming abstract techno pieces allied with a touch of glitch and acid which fit into the cold, dehumanised electronica that was prevalent at the time. It was good, but not especially distinctive. 2003’s Empty the Bones of You developed and expanded the sound, but still came across a little like Autechre Jr. Dropping his first name, he reappeared three years later with a dirtier, harder and more industrial sound, and since then has been pretty prolific.
Generally, he’s alternated full length albums with six track mini sets. These have been far from cast-off collections. The latest (which came out back in March) is called Growls Garden after its lead track, a fantastic piece of scuzzy techno rock that thuds its way into the synapses. Like Mark Pritchard’s Harmonic 313 album earlier this year, Clark delights in ignoring genre boundaries. Taking acid, grime, techno, dubstep, big beat and ambient and a whole heap of dirty crackle and fuzz, he’s still managed to come up with a 25 minute journey of surprising coherence. “Gonk Roughage” is acid-grime, and “Distant Father Torch” a tottering dubstep monster that is brutally hard and yet atmospheric. “Farewell Mining Town” rounds proceedings off on a yearning note, sounding like an Eno-esque cosmic ballad heard through a poorly tuned tinny transistor radio.
New album Totems Flare is out very soon, and many are calling it his masterpiece. I’m not one to listen to hype, but Growls Garden certainly bodes well.
1 Growls Garden (5:03)
2 The Magnet Mine (4:43)
3 Seaweed (3:21)
4 Gonk Roughage (4:00)
5 Distant Father Torch (4:38)
6 Farewell Mining Town (3:28)