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Chris Clark – Clarence Park

December 18, 2007

This one is kind of short, but I figured I wrote it at all, so I might as well get it out here. A lot of little reviews like this get lost in the RYM ocean, and I forget when they were written and if they have gotten exposure here. Anyway, as you can see, I have been very interested in electronic and ambient music lately. It was initially sparked, as you can kind of see here, by my budding interest in Aphex Twin, an artist whom I initially hated and did not understand, but now love. I’ve been listening to a lot of RDJ, Autechre, and Eno (the electronic stuff), as well as other scattered albums that I have received, like this. I’m trying to get a handle on these genres. It’s difficult, but doable, and I’m enjoying myself, sifting through what I do and don’t like and why.

Voila.

Clark crafts some fairly interesting, playful electronica here. He succeeds best with his short, fragile interludes, particularly the gorgeous opening Pleen 1930s but also including Oaklands, EMW, and Nostalgic Oblong. Beyond these, Clark’s success is scattered to say the least. A limited number of these songs succeed, Proper Lofi and Lord of the Dance to be precise. Proper Lofi is harsh but ultimately playful and melodic, and Lord of the Dance is even more fun, featuring a wonderful flute melody that sounds like it was lost in the production of a SEGA Genesis RPG, surrounded by sharp beats. But the other songs are plagued by a lack of direction, which is supposedly what makes the album enjoyable in the first place but ultimately spells its downfall. Clark proves that just because electronic music is unique or experimental does not mean it is successful. The mood and style that the album’s better tracks set up could have easily carried through the rest of the album and made it a memorable classic, but instead, most of the songs are smattered with aggravating noise in between moments of grace. Taking the opportunity to shape this album into something accessible would not have been taking the easy way out, but following through on the soul of what was promised initially. It’s alright, and it’s best moments are very lovely, but it is ultimately a missed opportunity.

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