Rarely are artists, caught up in the intricacies and subjectivities of their practice, genuinely capable of providing reliable, relatable descriptions of their own work. Usually, an external voice is, if not necessary as such, certainly useful for the efficient re-interpretation and quantification of that work for a general audience. Were this not the case, music criticism would be an even more obsolete field than one might plausibly argue it to be already. Yet, to my mind at least, Chris Clark encapsulates ‘Death Peak’, his new LP, near-perfectly in this quote:
“I love finding the fulcrum between opposites – I want my tracks to have sharp teeth, but you want to stroke them too. They sound ancient, but beamed in from the future, soft, corrosive.”
For ‘Death Peak’ is a multifaceted, non-linear work, whose extremes are constantly being pulled backwards over themselves in order to meet, not in the middle exactly, but at some separate point entirely. Neither fusion nor juxtaposition are truly characteristic here; rather, the album hinges upon its skilful displacement and re-contextualisation of tropes and textures more commonly found in such related but distinct genres as noise, ambient, house and techno.
The “opposites” of which Clark speaks don’t sound exactly out of place or awkwardly bound together when we hear them interacting with each other, precisely because his productions manage to transport us into somewhat alien territory: that groove shouldn’t be sitting there under that synth, but then where else would it go, and anywhere, how did we end up here?
‘Death Peak’ has the remarkable effect of disorientating its audience in such a way that, save for a couple of mild lulls, it makes complete sense mid-listen and very little once the record finishes. For a record to have such a bizarre, profound (and not always entirely pleasant) impact is a rarity; for the same record to boast such a catalogue of eminently danceable, cathartic moments is astounding.