When you think Chris Clark you probably call to mind some frantic ADHD beats with rich looming harmonies. Since his first release, Clarence Park, in 2001 he’s carved himself a sonic identity which closely resembles an obsolete machine army furiously battling against the plush white defences of an angelic super computer. In short, he’s anomalous.
So it’s surprising to find that Iradelphic comes across more like a lost Bibio record than any of Clark’s recent material. Both ‘Tooth Moves’ and ‘The Pining Pt1’ could’ve been lifted straight from Ambivalence Avenue without question. Considering that the last we’ve seen of him in the past two years was a tag team 12” with Bibio, Willenhall / Baskerville Grinch, it shouldn’t seem too surprising that some of the latter’s traits have rubbed off. Still, not many would have imagined such a drastic diluting of sound. The harsh meteoric drum patterns of previous albums have been jettisoned in favour of rustic synths and, believe it or not, acoustic guitar work. Couple these elements with some sombre piano loops, such as the ones found on ‘Black Stone’, and you’ve got a side to Clark that’s seldom seen.
Granted, not all facets have been abandoned. 2009’s Totems Flare saw the St Albans producer bring his own voice into the equation for the first time, an odd move by some standards but one he’s carried on to Iradelphic. This time however he’s joined by Martina Topley-Bird who lends her sugary vocals to a number of tracks, including the beautifully understated ‘Open’. As well as harbouring some vocal trends Clark has also retained the uniquely haunting sound that he’s known for. There’s still plenty of eerie tones leaking from these blackened pipes.
On the whole Iradelphic plays like a fun fair, but one where a few residual carnies could very well emerge from the waltzers brandishing rusty cleavers. There’s no immediate threat just a lingering ominous feeling throughout. Clark may have gone pastoral, even somewhat psychedelic for this album but he’s still as sharp and harrowing as always.