Chris Clark - Body Riddle Album Review
Well Kiddies, it's finally here. Probably the only album that I've been looking forward to all year. Constantly checking for release updates. Track samples. Etc. Etc. Etc. This is 'Body Riddle', Clark's (Chris Clark, to you and I) long awaited follow up to 2003's sublime 'Empty the Bones of You'. Those of you out there who are familiar with Chris Clark's work will know that you're either really into what he does, or passionately dislike what he does. However the sort of person that would fall into the latter is unlikely to be reading this so I'll just get on with it shall I?
The album opens with the brilliant 'Herr Bar', setting the tone so beautifully from the word go. Sounding something like a haunting memory of an old jewellery box that played some part in the forgotten parts of your childhood that's now been opened up and put back together with a built in drum machine and synthesiser. Clark weaves his unique musical yarn much into a much thicker tapestry than ever before, bringing together lots of new influences and live instrumentation, the most prominent of which is the jazz influenced drumming. There's a great sense here that he's grown up, and his sound, instead of going either one way or the other, has propelled both ways whilst still managing to retain the quality that is to typically Clark.
On 'Roulette Thrift Run' Clark lets loose a wailing avant-guard jazz trumpet to sail in the unstable waters of his trademark production tricks. Yet jazz is not the only new found musically injected fusion that he is toying with, as Clark has also started to use his voice. Yet, it's less about vocals more about becoming part of what he creates. On 'Herzog' we see an almost blissful use of rich synth tones, edited, cut and arranged in an endearingly playful dark-disco ensemble, but what's this!? Is this a Radiohead influence in the way the vocals are used?? Interesting choice, especially considering the last time I had a conversation with him he was picking 'Kid A' and 'Amnesiac' apart. Perhaps he thought he can do better, and although this may be my own biased opinion, but he does, even if it's only fleeting. What I find most intriguing about this album is that despite
Clark's dark, brooding sound, there's an underlying sense of optimism in this album. Infact in the final track, 'The Autumnal Crash', there's an almost triumphant feel to his music that in previous releases would've been daubed with melancholy. Is he finally happy?? He should be if he's producing albums like this.
Okay, this is the hard part. Likening Clarks sound to that of others. Hmmm. Imagine Squarepusher having a fist fight with Four Tet in a bar that's run by the likes of Bong Ra's Kilimanjaro Dark Jazz Ensemble, with Pan Sonic as the bouncers who have to intervene.That just about covers it, yet not nearly doing this album justice. This is his 'coming of age' album, just like 'Drukqs' was for Aphex Twin and 'Ultravisitor' for Squarepusher. This is a truly remarkable album, that is so intricate with=in its depths that you will be hearing new elements for many, many listens to come. I just hope you enjoy it as much as I do, and if you do, catch him on his tour sometime in October/November. You will not be disappointed.