Clark – Iradelphic

written by: April 17, 2012
Clark-Iradelphic-Album Cover Release Date: April 2, 2012

★★★★☆

Clark’s Iradelphic was released on Warp Records. Most things released by that label are of high quality and the label is held to a different standard than most, especially with highly experimental tweaked out music of all kinds on the label with heavy hitter bands like Prefuse 73, Battles, and Grizzly Bear. Clark’s sound stems from the kind that you listen to with headphones at three in the morning alone and contemplating life; Iradelphic is no different.

First and foremost this is an album that spans genres across the board. It’s a mixture of trip-hop, ambient, and some very, very far out psych-folk all in one.

The album’s third track, “Tooth Moves,” is very similar in parts to Bibio (also on Warp Records) in that it builds the rhythm of the song witharpeggios of acoustic guitars that shimmer in a certain lo-fi light that sound blissfully fuzzy yet perfectly crisp at the same time.

However, where most ambient artists go for a more expressionistic sort of approach to their art that sometimes results in songs repeating endlessly or trailing off into nowhere, each song on Iradelphic straddles the lines between traditional pop-song structures of verse-chorus-verse while also maintaining a certain adventurous or loose-cannon type of personality that could explode at any moment. Sometimes a single song will blur the lines and switch modes or styles out of nowhere effortlessly.

There is a wide variety of sounds and instruments explored on this album. There are Middle Eastern sounding guitars used on the first track and the second track has electronic keyboard synths that sound bloopy enough to be a Com Truise song. These shifts in tones are sometimes unsettling. The album has a dark side to it through all the ambience and drifting and all the prettiness. This works in the album’s favor as it actually feels like there is something happening in this album. There feels like there is a narrative that is driving the songs and the album as a whole.

They aren’t just a collection of long and drawn out synth PADS and slow modulation waving walls of sound for an hour. The first three songs are exclusively instrumental then there is a two minute interlude that leads to three songs with vocals and lyrics that embody a very dark psychedelic-folk mood. After those songs is another smaller two minute interlude type song that leads into three songs, “The Pining, Pts. 1, 2 and 3” leaving one song, “Broken Kite Footage,” as the album closer. Though this separation makes the album feel like it has three movements, “The Pinings” set don’t seem to have very much to do with each other besides their proximity on the album.  This doesn’t detract from the quality of the songs, but it still makes you raise an eyebrow. As a whole though, the album starts off with a strong beat and then fizzles out like a movie.

These are songs that you can listen to—sometimes. This isn’t an album to put on with other people around. This is an album to listen to with your eyes closed for forty minutes and meditate, but it isn’t stale background music. Songs like “Open” have vocals, lyrics, melody and rhythm, musical qualities usually missing in ambient music. “Secret” is also a song like this, and naturally “Open,” “Secret” and “Ghosted” are grouped together in the second act between interludes.

This album isn’t a one stop shop for everything you need in an album though. Iradelphic is the kind of stuff that you’d hear at a trendy art show at a gallery that just opened with a bunch of art you don’t understand, but still looks really cool even though you have no idea what it’s about.

Clark – Iradelphic tracklist:

  1. “Henderson Wrench”
  2. “Com Touch”
  3. “Tooth Moves”
  4. “Skyward Bruise/Descent”
  5. “Open”
  6. “Secret”
  7. “Ghosted”
  8. “Black Stone”
  9. “The Pining, Pt. 1″
  10. “The Pining, Pt. 2″
  11. “The Pining, Pt. 3″
  12. “Broken Kite Footage”