Clark – Fantasm Planes

If there’s one thing Clark can’t be accused of, it’s timidity – if there’s one he can be accused of, it’s perhaps a lack of attention span. Fantasm Planes is a squirt of contrasting tone and dynamic, in which not a single track hangs around for more than four minutes – and even then, they refuse to sit still for long. A selection of originals, as well as remixes from this year’s Iradelphic, Fantasm Planes is a somewhat uneven effort, in more than one sense of the word. The titular track is a queasy, loping effort that sounds like nothing so much as the soundtrack to a deranged 8-bit circus, the only link to three dimensional reality the jazz flute that, echoing the main arpeggio, gradually becomes similarly pitch-shifted out of shape. It’s mad, colourful, and perhaps the highlight of the EP. “Henderson Swooping” begins as glitch-folk before immediately exploding into a barnstorming, shuffling electro-stomp – the gentle but insistent pastoral guitar of the original track wrenched into something somewhat resembling a heavily synthed-up Led Zeppelin song. “Com Re-Touch/Pocket for Jack” retains only the shortest sample of the original’s haunting 80s synth lines, trading it in for a glacial harpischord and a full on, kick-the-piano-down-the-stairs wall of noise – a trick that Clark repeats throughout the EP. The two broadly ambient tracks on the EP, “Brigitte” and “Dove in Flames” are fine and perfunctory, respectively – the former being a surprisingly emotional piece. It can be tough to toe the line between abstract and completely formless collage, or to mold atonal experimentation into something genuinely emotive, but Clark just about pulls it off here. Finally, “Secret Slow Show” adds to the original’s off-kilter trip-hop a spacey, echoplex-d ambience, and brings to the forefront its Greenwood-esque guitar arpeggio (an improvement, in my humble opinion) – as well as once again reiterating Clark’s cacophonous wall of sound tricks in its latter third.

Fantasm Planes is an eclectic and well-produced EP, with flashes of brilliance, but even without knowing its origins, it’d be hard not to feel it comes across as a selection of off-cuts. There’s little stylistic unity or sense of progression, and despite moments of wild originality and defiantly contrary noise-making, it only delivers in fits and spurts – but when it does, as in the title track, it becomes genuinely exciting.

Fanstasm Planes came out on 3rd September on Warp.

Malachi Constant


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