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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Fat Possum
Body Riddle

Rating: 8/10 ?

October 3, 2006
Warp Records is like the MIT of record labels; you know they are going to turn out some amazing production. So when there is a new artist to join the class, one has to assume that they had some pretty good grades to get in.

Let's look at Clark's report card after one semester, Body Riddle:

Avant-garde factor - B+
No vocals - A+
Creativity - A-
Use of excellent sampling - B+
Notoriety - C-
Ability to do own thing/unique sound - A

So, as you can see Clark third overall full length is a great first step into the kind of excellence that Warp specializes in, but not nearly a perfect effort. This album does a wonderful job of stretching out to give itself time to make a rounded effort. Too often, producers who can make hot electronic beats feel the need to always make them. Fortunately, Clark does have the ability to make punctuating, danceable, hip-hop friendly breakbeats. Also fortunately is that this producer picks the right moments for when to splurge and when to save his finer drum samples.

To say "drum samples" or "breakbeats" doesn't nearly do justice to the extension of rhythm that is offered on Body Riddle. First, to use descriptive phrases-the drum production is glitchy, or electronically sampled/broken and then put back together, soul-jazz derived drum kit parts. Maybe more easily understood through comparison though-at his hotter moments, Clark's drum tinkerings sound like what you always wished Four Tet or Prefuse 73 would eventually get to but never did.

Besides beatplay Body Riddle is full of haunting, sonically deep and hooky synthetic keyboard sounds. Some moments find two notes in a winding melody that are slightly off and discordant, but this is entirely intentional and works to Clark's uniqueness. During "Night Knuckles" a spastic melody is played through glockenspiel and some other sort of keys, and the overall sound is mechanical while still progressing in an emotionally tied manner, somewhat similar to the work of Tadd Mullinix.

Downtime within this album is not a negative element, as it helps not only to set up the hotter sample run-throughs but to also exhibit Clark's exceptional ability to experiment with sound and feed off improvisation. During these moments electronic effects and strange non-musical noises provide a second layer of aural scenery.

Although Clark hasn't hit the caliber of Warp upperclassmen like Squarepusher and Aphex Twin, Body Riddle shows he is capable of profound things in sound. Free digital-only downloads from his personal site following this release indicate that Clark has more in the tank. If he can even match his efforts from his third release we will be looking at an exciting future.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger



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