Body Riddle
Clark - Body Riddle
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Body Riddle

Formerly going by Chris Clark, this young Warp Records recording artist has dropped his first name and instead adopted just his last for identification on Body Riddle, his third full-length album. Although I'd heard some good things from friends about it, this is one of several releases from last year that I simply didn't take the time to hunt down until recently, and after hearing the album, I wish that I would have looked it up earlier. In terms of sound, it's a release that's as familiar as a worn pair of shoes, yet Clark does some unique things on the album that really make it stick out from the pack.

The exact things that he does are somewhat hard to put your finger on, but it's clear that in the time since his debut, he's pushed further and further away from straight sounds that you hear on so many releases. Like his label-mates Boards Of Canada, Clark has a meticulous ear for sound in general, and he's obviously taken familiar sounds and pushed them into entirely different spaces, resulting in an eleven track album that has the hallmarks of IDM music, but is simply different. It feels more organic in a way, but not because he uses more organic instrumentation. Instead, if feels more "of the earth" organic because of imperfections in sound, distortion (although not simply straight up feedback distortion), and other techniques.

"Herr Bar" opens the album and music box chimes (that are slightly out-of-key in places) skitter across lower pads and a chunky, stuttering instrumental hip hop beat coated in a layer of grit. About halfway through, the track starts folds over on itself until it becomes a mass of hiss before a breathy coda pops out the other side. "Herzog" takes a completely different trip, pulsing and bubbling over with super dense masses of tricked-out synth arpeggio's that collapse into creepy percussion.

Probably the best one-two punch of tracks arrives right in the middle of the album, though. "Ted" is just under three minutes of pinging keyboard melodies that spray weird harmonics in every direction as over-compressed beats throb underneath. "Roulette Thrift Run" keeps things rumbling, with big glurps of analogue synth, haunted-house sound effect squeals, and distorted wordless vocals that turn the track into some freaked-out electro-funk beast.

In some places, Clark is much more deft with his touch (the dancing chimes and wheezes of "Night Knuckles") and in others he lets loose with some of his most crushing music to date. "Matthew Unburdened" is a particular highlight, slathering massive, crushed beats under beautiful orchestral swoons and other fractured electronics. There are a lot of artists out there making this kind of music, but with this album Clark has proven he's one of the best. Heavy, complex, and yet highly moving, it's his best release yet.

rating: 810
Aaron Coleman 2007-01-18 21:03:04