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Empty The Bones Of You

Chris Clark
Empty The Bones Of You
(Warp Records)

After what seemed like at least a year in a slight slump, Warp Records has really broken back out again in 2003 with a load of interesting full-length releases from what very well be their next generation of big-name artists (following the 'old guard' of Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, and Autechre). That's not to say that the last three artists have lost their touch, but there's something about the work from the newer kids like Prefuse 73, Broadcast, and now Chris Clark that have me keeping the faith in the label that has been around for 10-plus years.

On his debut release Clarence Park, Chris Clark stunned most everyone with a gem of a release that seemingly came out of nowhere. He effortlessly mixed old-school electronics, unique sounds, and amazing programming into a compact little release that whet the appetites of electronic music listeners everywhere and left them wanting more. His Ceramics Is The Bomb EP that came out earlier this year showed a couple twists in his sound, but Empty The Bones Of You is definitely his most realized work yet.

Like the newest release by labelmates Broadcast, this newest release by Clark seems to be as influenced by paranoia and even a touch of fear and longing (the black and white covers of each even draw you inward a similar way). The disc opens with "Indigo Optimus" and clipped beats pound while shredded electronics and buzzing arpeggios occasionally fill in the gaps. By the end, harshly filtered melodies creep in while the beat just keeps adding layers and pounding harder as the track reaches a schizophrenic crescendo with static-buried vocal samples and other noises. "Holiday As Brutality" again piles on a slathering load of pummeling beats while oddly off-kilter melodies provide an eerie backdrop. The album titled "Empty The Bones Of You" is a perfect mix of creepiness and a light at the end of the tunnel as gutteral squiggling electronics squirm under warm tones that could almost be called uplifting.

In addition to the slightly darker feel, the other biggest difference between his older release and this newest one is that rhythm seems to pay a much larger part on Empty The Bones Of You. Clark is great at creating unique sounds to be used in tracks and tracks like "Early Moss," "Farewell Track," and others all pound away with no abandon. "Gob Coitus" is probably the noisiest track that Clark has ever done, a stuttering, clanging effort that sounds like the sonic equivalent of a revolt in the lockdown ward at an institution. Even when beats don't play into things, Clark often creates a feeling of dread, as on the album closer of "Betty," in which swarms of haunting tones overlap while random low-end bass flexes out the bottom end. Even with all of the above, the album isn't opressive, and there's just enough light peeking through to keep you from feeling overwhelmed. All in all, another batch of great tracks from Clark.

Rating: 7.5