Chris Clark
Empty The Bones Of You

By The Felonious Punk

 
Chris Clark plunged onto the scene two years ago with the frenetic, restless Clarence Park. Ranging from hyperactive distorted breaks to moments of beautiful melody and baroque flourishes, it was a short but sweet introduction to a promising young artist that quickly drew the inevitable comparisons with label mate Richard James. And then… nothing.
 
Finally, earlier this year the Ceramics Is the Bomb EP dropped – out went the ambient soundscapes as Clark concentrated on the frenzied gabba breaks side of his personality. As a record for rinsing out in clubs it was fine, but felt a little one-dimensional. It was a good example of its genre but nothing more; something was missing.
 
Luckily, on his first true full-length album, that something has been re-discovered in spades. Empty the Bones Of You is a much fuller, three-dimensional record, from the opening Indigo Optimus with its skittering distorted beats that plunges into a sea of otherworldly synths.
 
From then on it just gets better; a classic album in the vein of Aphex’s Ambient Works or Reload's Collection of Short Stories. Industrial, crackling beats keep things moving but it’s the dreamy washes of sounds that make the album; at times unsettling and eerie and at others as familiar as home.
 
For the last few years too many ‘electronica’ artists have been too concerned with digital trickery; skill has come to be more highly regarded than art, and emotion abandoned in favour of jokey gimmickry or interesting yet un-engaging noise. Tracks like Tycan roll back the years – crunchy beats underpinned by a beautifully deep swell of ambient noise, leaving you unprepared for when, halfway through the track, the melody rises up like a wall of sound.
 
Much of the album is naggingly familiar: Farewell Track, all building synths and heavily reverbed pulses, is like classic Global Communication – warm and comforting. It‘s an album that looks back to the classic period of electronica but which refuses to sound dated or tired. The timeless mixture of harsh mechanical rhythms and ocean deep atmospherics puts it up there with the best of its kind and lends it a fragile beauty as the contrasting elements battle for control.
 
Ending on the dark, technoir of Betty, a shoe-in for the soundtrack should they ever, god forbid, decide to re-make Bladerunner. Empty The Bones Of You is an beautiful album from an artist still at the beginning of his career. Whether this, as has been threatened, is the last of his more ambient experiments time will tell, but he at least leaves those of us who lost our heads in chill out rooms in the early nineties with the conviction that there’s still room amongst all the distorted gabba and digitally processed noise for this kind of thing.
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