[1 May 2012]
When news of the release of Iradelphic was announced, you would have been forgiven for anticipating a collection of loud, crashing and melancholia-infused songs. Its release however heralded an about-face in Chris Clark’s musical output and revealed an altogether more accessible and pleasant side. Gone was the industrial harshness of Turning Dragon, and in its place a more down-tempo fuzz, live acoustic samples and the odd guest appearance from Tricky’s old partner Martina Topley-Bird.
Having invited Nathan Fake, whose releases have taken the opposite trajectory since 2005’s heart-warmingly fuzzy Drowning in a Sea of Love, to join him for Iradelphic’s launch, the question leading up to the event was which Clark would show up on the night? Unfortunately, as is often the case with album launches, Clark decided not to showcase the album musically. Walking onto the stage after a relatively underwhelming Nathan Fake, whose place in the line-up had frustratingly been moved forward by two hours, he immediately filled the cavernous room that is the Village Underground with echoing saturated synths and loud punches of bass.
The venue itself is curious, lying beneath an underground train carriage and consisting of one large L-shaped space, with high ceilings and uncovered brickwork walls, it comes across more as an art gallery than a live music venue. Whilst undoubtedly visually impressive, there is something about the place which directly affects the atmosphere within. Being located in the heart of Shoreditch in East London, it is unsurprising that its developers went for the austere-chic warehouse space vibe, however like many other venues in the neighbourhood, they also succeeded in stripping any real character from the place. Nevertheless, with noise-merchants of the quality of Nathan Fake and Clark, big empty spaces were never going to be too much of a match of the sonic waves emanating from the stage at the far end of the room.
The last minute line-up change which saw Leatherette appear after Clark instead of in the hour preceding did disrupt the flow of the evening, as Nathan Fake played to a cold crowd whilst Leatherette only served to disrupt the momentum that had been building throughout Clark’s set. Nevertheless, in the midst of a 50 minute ‘one hour’ appearance, the whole evening arrived at its focal point, where line-up changes and flat performances were forgotten and the whole event was justified. The expectedly beardy crowd was whipped into a frenzy, as the tempo shifted up and down and layers and layers of bass and drums hammered down upon them, all the while bearing that particular Clark thumb-print of haunting and saturated synthesisers. Unfortunately it all ended too soon, and the Village Underground was returned to the mortal plain.
All in all you would have to call the party a success, as it has been established that Clark is still well loved, and is still relevant in a scene now dominated by urban-influenced nostalgia. It would however have been nice had he taken this opportunity to showcase what Iradelphic has heralded in terms of his musical progression rather than just give us more of the, albeit excellent, same.