Posted on Jan 18th 2008 12:19 am
Warp Records 2008
11 Tracks. 46mins35secs
Since he first appeared on the scene, in 2001, with his debut album, Clark has systematically upped the stakes with each new release, first by refocusing his sound essentially around electronics and gritty textures with Ceramics Is The Bomb and Empty The Bones Of You, then by refining his template and pushing into darker and dirtier territories with Body Riddle and its companion EPs, Throttle Furniture and Ted. With Turning Dragon, Clark steps up the pace, pushes up the experimentation levels and gets down and dirty on the dance floor.
Recorded in his apartment in Berlin, where Clark has recently moved, Turning Dragon is a much more immediate and incendiary collection, which builds on the momentum of the recent Throttle Promoter EP, yet those expecting a whole album of blasting Dirty Pixie or Kin Griff may be in for a shock. Built from a now familiar pool of processed acoustic sounds, gritty electronics and environmental noises, Turning Dragon is much sharper, more angular than its predecessors. Clark leaves behind the complex refined textural motifs of Body Riddle and casts his attention onto resolutely techno formations. New Year Storm and Volcan Veins, which open the record, demonstrate this shift particularly well. On the former, Clark splatters a heavy beat with caustic squelches and occasional melodic debris, while he blends processed vocals and harsh metallic noises to give the latter an edge that is maintained pretty much thereafter.
For Wolves Crew, Arch Of The North, Mercy Sines and BEG all share with the aforementioned a taste for loud and abrasive sounds, powerful beats and gut-twisting bass. The metallic tones and loose soundscapes of For Wolves Crew are echoed by the contrasted sonic collage of Mercy Sines, which, caught between the vast reverb of its background section and the sturdy rhythmic pattern that are pressed on top, gives out an uneasy claustrophobic feeling, while the dense layers off the heavy duty BEG eventually dissipate to reveal the quite magnificent spreads of Penultimate Persian, occasionally reminiscent of Autechre, especially in its middle section.
On Truncation Horn, Clark adopts a cut’n'paste technique which evokes label mate Jackson, but the addition of a guitar-driven groove gives the piece a much funkier twist, while Violenl and Radiation Clutch are resolutely darker and more oppressive. Clark seems to accentuate the corrosive aspect of his music by reducing it to more minimal forms. Deprived of their natural breathing space, these two tracks recoil into some of the most inhospitable territories he has visited. The Berlin techno influence is never more obvious than on the latter, where Clark applies vast reverbs to blur the boundaries of the backdrop and pushes the linear beat to the forefront. Only Hot May Slides seems somewhat too straightforward and well behaved to fit in properly here.
Fuelled by a much rawer and more spontaneous energy than its predecessors, Turning Dragon puts on record what Clark has been experimenting with on stage and allows him to expand further his panoply of moods. It is certainly his most immediate record. Turning Dragon at time craves the intricate detailing of Body Riddle but the sheer energy of the music largely compensates and contributes to make this Clark’s most entertaining release.
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