CLARO INTELECTO: Reform Club (Delsin Records)


Posted on Apr 13th 2012 01:29 am

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Claro Intelecto: Reform Club

Reform Club
Delsin Records 2012
09 Tracks. 52mins55secs

Amazon UK: CD | LP US: CD | LP

Claro Intelecto’s Mark Stewart is quite an elusive figure of the British techno scene, but, in the space of nearly ten years, he has built a solid reputation amongst his peers through a steady flow of releases, first for the utterly excellent and sorely missed AI Records, then more recently on Manchester’s Modern Love, for which he notably delivered five critically acclaimed EPs, The Warehouse Sessions Vol. 1-5, which were later collected on a CD. His first album, Neurofibro (2004), showcased his taste for abstract electronica and Detroit techno, but with following releases he focused more solely on the strong blend of elegant techno which infused part of his debut, resulting in his second opus, Metanarrative (2008). Since, he has been pretty quiet, but a new EP, Second Blood, appeared earlier this year on Dutch imprint Delsin, paving the way for Stewart’s third album.

Reform Club very much takes up where Metanarrative left off in terms of stylistic approach, and his flair for beautiful lush soundscapes, refined melodies and driving grooves is intact. Yet, Reform Club is something of a major leap forward for Stewart. Three years in the making, this album has benefited of Stewart’s undivided attention, and it shows. The album kicks off with smooth synthetic strings washes, soon framed by a steady groove, around which he builds up a laid back structure. This very much sets the tone for pretty much the rest of the record, but, while there is a definite consistency of sound running through the entire album, Stewart distills enough twists and turns to keep the interest going. His pieces are, for the most part, fairly stripped down, relying on just a few sounds and textures, wrapped around a techno or house beat, and keeps the melodic aspect to a minimum, but his careful choice of sounds and his particular sense of detail when it comes to the way they work with each other often gives an impression of much greater complexity. This works particularly well on some of the more atmospheric pieces, such as the cinematic Still Here or Second Blood, but it also gives tracks such as It’s Getting Late, Scriptease or Night Of A Maniac a level of depth which he has rarely attained before.

As he alternates between elegant techno and house compositions and more subtle moodier constructions, at times even bringing the two into contact, as is the case on Control for instance, Stewart ensures that Reform Club remains extremely well balanced and contrasted throughout. There is no great departure from previous work here, but rather a reinforcement of the Claro Intelecto aesthetic and a refinement of its many components. Reform Club is beautifully polished and exquisite from start to finish, and with it, Mark Stewart delivers by far his most convincing record yet.


Claro Intelecto | Delsin Records
Amazon UK: CD | LP US: CD | LP

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