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Clark: Death Peak

Chris Clark (referred to as Clark) is a veteran English DJ whose enigmatic sound harkens back to the days of 90s and early 00s Intelligent Dance Music (IDM), such as Aphex Twin, Plaid, and µ-Ziq. His sound is not surprising, as he got his start in 2001 with the album Clarence Park, just as British IDM had gained world prominence.

However, like many electronic artists lumped into the IDM category, it seems as though Clark has actively worked towards rejecting and transcending it. In four years, Clark has released three albums, and they can’t be anymore different. The first one, the critically acclaimed eponymous Clark, was generally cold and more mechanical sounding. The second one, an ambient soundtrack for the crime drama The Last Panthers, was released last year. Finally, Death Peak was released earlier this year.

Death Peak could be thought of as Clark’s slightly more cheerful cousin, as it is strangely ominous and playful. But lurking behind the cheerful exterior, there seems to be something “off” about this cousin. Death Peak is full of dancing keys and bended notes, but it also has atmospheric synths, cut-up vocal tracks, and blasts of noise. The first track, “Butterfly Prowler”, is a great example of that. While a repeating, playful keyboard line carries the listener throughout most of the song, there is the undercurrent of slightly dissonant ambient noises that leave the listener a bit uneasy. Many of the first songs, including “Butterfly Prowler” move at a pretty good clip, and could be described as schizophrenic at times. On the other hand, the last three tracks are much less beat-driven. These three tracks build up and swell to crescendos, but without the anxiety of the earlier tracks. “Catastrophe Anthem” is probably the best of these three, and it notably ties its movements together with what sounds like a children’s choir. The song comes to an end with the characteristically bent synth notes of the likes of Aphex Twin.

Throughout more than 15 years, Clark has spanned the spectrum of electronic music. Death Peak finds him continuing the harshness of some of his other work, but what’s most prominent here is the playfulness with which he approaches it.

Recommended If You Like: Aphex Twin, The Black Dog, Plaid, µ-Ziq, Squarepusher, Drexciya
Recommended Tracks: 3 (Peak Magnetic), 5 (Slap Drones), 2 (Butterfly Prowler), 7 (Catastrophe Anthem)
Do Not Play: None, but avoid 1 (Spring But Dark), 6 (Aftermath), and 9 (Un UK)
Written by Josh Gaston on 04/11/2017