PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Chris Clark: Clarence Park

Eamon P. Joyce

Chris Clark

Clarence Park

Label: Warp
US Release Date: 2001-05-01

Chris Clark, I thought I had him all sussed out. He's signed to Warp (home of Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, Autechre, etc.) and has a record jacket that would make even Richard James shudder with fear. I figured I would hear the typical Warp record -- loomy, foreboding, grimy in essence while extremely well-polished in sound -- but the 21-year-old Bristol University student provides more surprises and unexpected twists on his debut Clarence Park.

Initially, Clark does not stray from the Warp flock, as "Pleen 1930s" is a mellow, piano-laced, synth stroked composition that mirrors Aphex Twin's more ambient material and much of the Autechre canon. "The Dogs" begins with the prototypical Warp bite, the beats are dispersed but stinging when they draw near the front of the mix, then Clark bathes them in huge strokes of synth before the punches return. "Proper lo-fi" hints at a trance framework but the fleetness of the beats prevents that from ever unfolding. Oaklands" gives the listener a much needed chance to catch his or her breath, but the vitriol returns on "Bricks". And at this point, I thought that Clark was still exactly what I bargained for, predictably Warp but also of the high quality one expects from the label's set of stellar signings. Yet, Clark begins an about face with "The Chase", dreary on the surface, its touch-and-go rhythm shows Clark might have a softer side.

That side becomes fully apparent on "Lord of the Dance". A happy-go-lucky flute loop grounds the track as Clark cuts an array of video game-esque sounds through the middle. One gets the feeling that the 21-year-old Clark might feel just as comfortable screwing around with the cheeky Bentley Rhythm Ace as he would doom and glooming with his more studious, Scottish Warp contemporaries. All of which should not detract from "Lord of the Dance" which is quite lovely, the flute combines with and supports Clark's computer nerd ramblings in a welcome and uncomplicated fashion. "Diesel Raven", too, has an airy, lively feel despite its more onerous title. Clark adds an electronic orchestra to a leisurely melody, jogging in more industrial beats to round out the track. Clarence Park is a welcome debut and an interesting side of Warp. Clark has the mettle which has won the label so much praise, but he also clearly possesses a good sense of humor and irony that allow this record to break outside of formula when Clark could have been quite content to remain in such safe space. It's a sign that even before graduating university, Clark has a degree of unpretentiousness and level-headedness about his music and quick success which should translate well into the always difficult second album.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.


Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.


Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".


John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.


The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.


Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.


In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.


Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.


The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.