Clark “Fantasm Planes” | Warp Records
Fantasm Planes sees Clark exploring the harder, more dancefloor orientated side of his work, and was partly inspired by his recent new live show setup, which involved heavy, psychedelic synth improvisations, infectious beatwork and more upfront, melodic sequences. – Warp Records
When thinking about all the producers who are releasing records right now, Clark of London’s Warp Records is easily in my top five list of most creative and technically proficient artists out. As someone who has been releasing experimental electronic music for over ten years now, his command in tone selection, rhythmic and his positioning of elements in the mix and how the layers come together is flawless. I don’t say this light either, especially now that he is back from a slight hiatus and releasing music to the public again. It feels like Clark has put together the most pieces in the puzzle in modern electronica and his emergence back into the spotlight of new albums in the 2010′s has breathed new energy into what’s out. Iradelphic was his last full length and was a huge addition to his legacy considering the gap between the record that came out before that. Clark is at it again with Warp in the release of a new EP Fantasm Planes. Picking up on the vibe of Iradelphic with three songs reworked from that album along with three brand new compositions, this is a stunning pathway into highly technical and exotic beat music.
Beginning with the title track, there is a labyrinth of parts that all merge on contact. The synth sounds like it is tearing the inside of the mix outward with angelic phrases placed all around it. The rhythm is assaulting in ways, smashing through odd meters like its nothing. There is a lot of movement in the way the synth glides around the mix as became overwhelmingly evident with headphones. It channels the feeling of a hundred mirrors in the same room, seeing movement of all types of objects in directions you can’t even begin to comprehend. Each section of the first piece has a really solid framework of melody and rhythm despite how alive the mix is. It begins Fantasm Planes in a menacing, psychedelic chamber induced and commanding form, showing a penchant for technique and style that is unparalleled. It’s completely futuristic in every way possible. Next is “Henderson Swooping” and is a whole other beast than the title track. Beginning with a beautiful and exotic display of worldly percussion and a dose of stringed instrument that sounds raw, powerful and mystic, the main body of the section then dives into a dynamic shift of a higher register of energy and colossal weight. The sections that break down from the heavy rhythms utilize the stringed instruments from the intro while sending out waves of futuristic synth lines and vocal additions around it. It’s a really interesting mix of tones and comes out more natural than most electronic music I hear today. The ending of this piece swirls into eternity with the winding down of all sounds. It’s an ethereal ending and changes the dynamic of the song entirely yet again.
“Com Re-Touch Pocket For Jack” is a fully realized experimental hip hop production, especially in terms of the style of drums that are used and the dominating melodic lines that represent each main section of the piece. Starting with a analog driven bass and drum section, the warmth of the recording is top notch and gives it that authentic analog voice. The melodies are tightly placed around the rhythm while smaller layers provide the matrix of tones to extract at your own pace. The transition from this section into the next comes at the hands of a drop out moment where all rhythm and tones go into controlled chaos. Once the next section appears, the synth types change drastically with the same foundation of drum and bass that represented the first part. Small splices of synth bring the music to full life and a bridging of diverse musical worlds comes full circle in just minutes.
“Brigitte” is the song on the record that really made my jaw drop and pushed this album over the top for me. With no rhythm present, this is a highly textured, ambient track that calls to mind an endless voyage into the framework of the creative mind. Fragments of sound wash over one another in a beautiful haze of magnetic frequencies. The spiritual essence of the album takes full shape in this track and time slows down because of it.
“Secret Slow Show” has a lush display of guitar and vocal tandem that is softly placed over rugged and dirty drum breaks and bass. Vocally, it’s the most realized song and reminds me a lot of the vibe achieved on “Henderson Swooping”. The dynamic shift of the track comes in the heaviness of the rhythm section. Halfway through the song and the drums feel like a cyclone of the fullest force. The guitar and synth create a mirror of sounds and the vocals that were present in the beginning of the song take a back seat to the imaginative musical world Clark can produce. Ending with the piece “Dove In Flames”, this is the most minimal song of the record and focuses on a small layering of synth line, leaving out all percussion. The synth playing is impeccable to the ending of this EP. It’s a refreshing ending to Fantasm Planes and makes the album breath forever in my mind after it’s done.
With a good pair of headphones or a good system, Clark’s Fantasm Planes is a really dense and intricate album that takes a lot of dedication in listening to extract everything going on. It’s all placed in a sound way though, nothing trips over anything and you can immediately identify each new sound that comes into place. Adventurous music such as Fantasm Planes is one of a kind in an age where computers, programs and other hardware devices are slowly removing the human being away from instrumentalism and technique. Fantasm Planes is highly imaginative, colorful, transfixing and is something I highly recommend to anyone who loves experimental music.