Music

Clark: Death Peak

Death Peak is an album-length argument for Clark's assertion that the human voice is "the most perfect synth".


Clark

Death Peak

Label: Warp
US Release Date: 2017-04-07
UK Release Date: 2017-04-07
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Chris Clark has been putting out albums since 2001 when his Clarence Park album was a standout amidst the last gasps of radio-ready "electronica", an uncommercial and mischievous, yet highly listenable amalgam of glitch and dance beats. The mischief has faded from view as Clark has gotten older, but his skill behind the boards is still as obvious as ever. His weapon of choice on Death Peak is the human voice, and he wields that weapon without ever resorting to a big name guest or a singsong melody. The promotional material for Death Peak finds Clark explaining that the human voice is "the most perfect synth", and that respect for the voice is all over the album.

Perhaps most impressively, you rarely hear those voices unless you are looking for them. They blend so well with the rest of Clark's energetic, largely upbeat, cinematic compositions, that they really are just another synth, even as they are the element that sets these pieces apart from those of Clark's contemporaries.

After a brief and slightly scary intro, "Butterfly Prowler" and "Peak Magnetic" set the mood with high-ish BPM and noises that attack like mosquitos, little high-pitched sounds that dart and bounce and fly all over the beat. The vocals really do come in like synths here, "ahhhhh" sounds that fade in from the background or add texture to the beat, but never announce themselves as vocals. True to his word, Clark is using the voice as just another instrument here, an organic sound amongst the synthetics, and his subtle, ear-pleasing approach is well-presented. The breakdown of "Peak Magnetic" into what sounds like improvised electronic harpsichord is unexpected and frankly rather unpleasant, but for the most part, the album's first shots are true.

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