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Clark - Turning Dragon

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Artist: Clark

Album: Turning Dragon

Label: Warp

Review date: Feb. 21, 2008

England's Chris Clark seems an unlikely candidate to join the pilgrimage to Berlin. The German capital has become the closest to an industry town for global techno, while Clark hails from across the Channel where the wobbly, click-snap stutter of IDM and jungle is still proliferate. A Warp lad in a Kompakt town, he routes the city's lateral undercurrent into his own swirl of broken data.

All jagged edges and snarling synths, Turning Dragon makes Body Riddle, his prior album, look pop. Across its exhilarating first four tracks, it slips in and out of sync with techno's 4x4 undertow, pressing the gas pedal to push straight ahead while dancing with the clutch for random shifts in gear. The cut-up bacchanals of "Volcan Veins" and "Truncation Horn,” the latter frantically masticating what sounds like INXS's "New Sensation" (though no sample clearance identifies such appropriation), are bouts of compressed hedonism even down to drag-and-drop porno moans. But somewhere along the near seven-minute expanse of "For Wolves Only,” the scrambly undertones that have complicated Clark's flirtation with techno’s throb overwhelm the track. The hesitant swoon of felt chords is scrawled over by the hectic calligraphy of a loose oscillator dial. The beats skip and pummel in reverse.

From here on out, Turning Dragon feels more like a Clark record, albeit one stripped down to its warped aluminum skeleton. The sickly "Gaskarth/Cyrk Dedication" peers through Polygon Window onto the rough surf foaming with chattering glitches. Melancholy melodies skate over the clang and crash of scurrying metals.

Though certainly fierce and in places sulfurous, Turning Dragon is not a full brainiac-to-beast transformation. Clark knowingly posted a gerund in the way. We're in the midst of a process, not its conclusion.

By Bernardo Rondeau

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