Clark: Feast/Beast – album review

Clark: Feast / Beast (Warp)
CD / DL / LP
Out 16th Sept

No new album yet but a double album of Clark remixes offers rich pickings for Philip Allen.

Whilst many wait in anticipation for a new Clark album, in the interim he releases a carefully curated double album compilation of remixes that he has produced over his career as well as others’ remixes of his own back catalogue. ‘Feast / Beast’ contains a massive 29 tracks including exclusive previously unreleased contributions from Bibio, Nathan Fake and more.

Disc 1, ‘Feast’ contains the lighter side of his productions whilst Disc 2, ‘Beast’ is its harder, more Techno based cousin. There is also a 4 x LP version available for the vinyl record buyer out there, available from the 16th September. On the Warp Records website Clark had this to say about it, “In some ways these remixes represent the range of music I have released over the 10 years in my albums. But they are more unhinged – there is more freedom involved when using other people’s material. And particularly when friends are involved, it can push you into electric new terrain”.

Clark’s dedication to production has always been evident in his album output with many taking up to 3 years to produce. His ability to mix instruments and styles not always associated with electronic music has always been astoundingly diverse whilst his use of ‘live’ drumming, acoustic instruments and eclectic vocals have allowed him to stand heads and shoulders above the crowd of electronic producers filling the dance floors with predictable fodder. What is clear to anyone who has heard any of Clark’s work is that it stands up there with best of them. Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Amon Tobin, who are all Warp Records contemporaries pushing sonic and genre boundaries; Clark fits perfectly amongst such luminaries.

 

To write a review of all the tracks presented her would be exhausting (for you and for me), so I will make this as painless as possible for us both. What is apparent from all the tracks is the consistency in quality and listenability of them all. Their sonic production and delivery is masterful. I spent most of the time listening to the album with my jaw on the floor in awe of their uniqueness and breadth of emotion. It is often said that electronic music lacks the human qualities that make a band so special. Well, that just isn’t true. Through the development of the digital, artists like Clark have confounded expectation and criticism by producing some of the most emotional and deeply affecting music I have ever heard; from the drumless BOC-esqe opener, ‘Smoulderville’ by The Beige Lasers, to the Rhythmic tinkling of Amon Tobin’s ‘Kitchen Sink’, with each track delivering something unique and fresh to the ears.

Clark’s ever evolving remix of Nathan Fake’s ‘Fentiger’ as well as his sublime remix of French Rone’s ‘Let’s Go’ with vocals from High Priest, subdue the listener until we submit to his flow. Stand out track for me on the ‘Feast’ CD has to be Bibio’s remix of Clark’s ‘Absence’. It’s deft melodies and beautiful guitar leading us up into the clouds of synths that end the track as if we were flying high above the horizon. Bibio’s other Clark remix ‘Ted’, with it’s acoustic guitar playful intertwining with itself until it’s mellow jazz drop is utterly jaw-dropping. Vampillia’s ‘Sea’ gets a crunchy, decidedly fuzzy going over from Clark, where white noise and ambience becomes the track.

 

‘Beast’ begins with Massive Attack‘s ‘Red Light’ with Martina Topley-Bird’s angel-like vocals riding high on the super sub bass beats that dominate the track. Best track on ‘Beast’ goes to his incredible remix of Battles’ ‘My Machines’ featuring Gary Numan on vocal duties. The synths ‘battle’ it out with one of the fattest beats I have ever heard, causing my embolism, especially when The bassline takes precedence in the final minute of the track. The hard club friendly take on Clark’s ‘Growl’s Garden’ by Nathan Fake is impossible not to get down and dirty to. The skipping 808 hi-hats and ‘phat’ electro bass make this a massive floor filler.

Surprise of the day comes from Clark’s utter mashing of Maximo Park‘s ‘Let’s Get Clinical’. Indie Techno Rock never sounded so good with Paul Smith’s vocals vocoded beyond belief. Every track on this compilation sounds like it could of come off any of his own albums, He manages to obliterate and replace the original tracks with the sonic overload that we have come to expect from his best work. This release comes highly recommended and just compounds how good a producer and a musician Clark truly is. He even manages to make Depeche Mode sound like the kings of dubstep with his remix of ‘Freestate’. Some mean feat you will agree. You would be silly not to own this exceptional collection of some of the best music being produced in the electronic field.

~

Clark be found at his website and on Facebook, Twitter,  MySpace and SoundCloud.

All words by Philip Allen. More work by Philip can be found in his Louder Than War archive.

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