Clark
Totems Flare


2.5
average

Review

by Marko Polovina USER (90 Reviews)
August 13th, 2009 | 24 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Nothing new or relatively barbaric in approach it would seem that Clark has hit a pitfall in his young musical career.

It's obviously not a coincidence that Chris Clark had changed his official musician name to a shortened Clark with the release of his EP Throttle Furniture. The change would immediately signal a transformation in his direction as his more moderate electronic cuts mixed with ambient backgrounds almost completely disappeared. With the release of his third album Body Riddle and his fourth Turning Dragon the man knew what he wanted - an unprovoked, hard-hitting electronic sequences with small snippets of his past albums. Ultimately Turning Dragon would call for the changing of the guard as it was nothing like Clark had ever released; clearly more straightforward in its approach, but not in its varying complexity. Interestingly enough it was easy to understand why the man who started as a more of an ambient/electronic artists a la Tim Hecker and Aphex Twin, to a idm/breakbeat junkie would be despised by some who are split on either side. If his debut Clarence Park said Clark would meander off in many directions then Totems Flare really is a replica of that album. Nothing new or relatively barbaric in approach it would seem that Clark has hit a pitfall in his young musical career.

Although the man who carries the original intention of Warp Records' heyday it soon becomes clear on Totem's Flare that he's either lost memory of his past dealings or just plain bored. This may feel like a complaint or a tirade to some, but in all honesty I think Clark's "trilogy" of hard-nosed breakbeats, short ambient sequences, techno-theme and relentless idm was thrown into a pot on pure happenstance. Clearly the more refined albeit still chaotic Body Riddle and Turning Dragon feel refreshing if not bearable compared to the third in the series of his new approach. Totems Flare feels like a regression of sorts, instead of expanding or sticking to a consistent sound, it sounds more like a huge mess. His previous albums, despite not sounding anything like his releases post-2006 carried the balance extremely well. Clarence Park's playful nature and distorted lulls were amazingly similar to Aphex Twin their connotations, easily pleasurable and increasingly likeable, but that was his debut made nearly 9 years ago. Unfortunately when you get a taste of this in Totems Flare it feels like betrayal or better yet downright wrong, you asking yourself what the hell is this doing here? The flow of Clark's last release is purely disruptive, was that his intent? I'm not exactly sure, but it sure doesn't help this album's cause.

It may sound easy to pummel Clark's latest effort, but the man has been quite progressive in his sound if not dynamic. His uproarious sequences that build to an explosion of energy that induces huge moments of dancing may be the reason why Totems Flare seems so misplaced. The sometimes odd, slow moving sequences have been non-existent in his last few efforts. I didn't think this would be possible, but it's as if the general feeling is I'm growing out of this direction. Despite its progressive nature, the sequences that develop within the music are extremely aggravating. The type of music on Totems Flare can only be described in a matter of words and short explanations: sequence switching (pertaining towards the extremely quick transitions from one sound to another completely disrupting any type of flow), misplaced (much of Totems Flare doesn't not flow as it should), disappointing (despite having some fantastic material hidden in the depths of a few songs such as the keyboard transition 3:37 in "Outside Plume" and the serene upbringing of "Growls Garden" most of Totems Flare rides through some huge speed bumps).

Generally the old adage goes if it isn't broke don't fix it and Clark seems to have taken that to heart. If not for a few subtle differences in sampling and even quick sequences that sometimes show absolutely no consistencies this could feel like a re-hash of Body Riddle and Turning Dragon, yet not nearly as smooth in transition or excellent. At the end of the day Totems Flare truly had some great potential, but the myriad number of problems hold it back.



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user ratings (31)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
MassiveAttack
August 13th 2009


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Recommended:
"Growls Garden"
"Talis"
"Suns of Temper"
"Absence"

Yes I know there are 4 recommended tracks, but they're damn fucking good. If it wasn't for those badboys this would be a 2.0

This came out last month btw, but its damn disappointing =[

lobby
August 13th 2009


1251 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

hmmm this is going really well over at rym, so i've dled it...

MassiveAttack
August 13th 2009


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The last few tracks really save this album, but I say check out his previous 2 albums, Body Riddle and Turning Dragon.

Waior
August 13th 2009


11461 Comments


In all honesty, you're easily one of my favorite reviewers and this review is no lesser than your usual standard. Sounds really uninteresting though, may I pass it up? Thank you.

klap
Staff Reviewer
August 13th 2009


10597 Comments


A NEW REVIEW!!!!!!!

Digging: Charli XCX - Sucker

MassiveAttack
August 13th 2009


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks Waior I appreciate it and yes klap IT IS! I don't think you should necessarily pass this up, but just skip the majority of the tracks and focus on Growl Gardens + the last 4 tracks. GO FOR IT!

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
September 13th 2009


4927 Comments


Lack of mentioning of Rainbow Voodoo makes this review void.

oh and the production of the album is just sick

MassiveAttack
September 13th 2009


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

You enjoyed it I'm guessing? I'm really split, some tracks I just can't stand, others are a great listen, hence my average rating. Production is great, his production always has been so I kinda put that on the back burner.

Ah I remember your comment on Turning Dragon, you said you can only handle 10 minutes of Clark's work. Does this album change that or do you still have that problem?

Growls Garden still remains to be the best track: "I will find you, in the garden, slowly drowning, slowly drowning."

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
September 13th 2009


4927 Comments


hahaha I did say that, but Turning Dragon didn't do anything for me at the time. I plan on listening to Body Riddle again soon. I think what changed it was seeing him live, as weird as that may sound.

As for this, I really haven't listened to it throughout. Growls Garden and Rainbow Voodoo are definitely the two best tracks. Suns of Temper is also great, and as for the rest I'll have to listen again.

MassiveAttack
September 13th 2009


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Any thoughts on the review? I re-listened to Rainbow Voodoo again, but I still feel like it doesn't top "Growls Garden", "Suns of Temper", "Talis", or "Absence".

Meatplow
November 29th 2009


5524 Comments


I'm not sure if I quite agree, I found this pretty good.

I need to give this a few more listens. Clarence Park is probably my favourite Clark.

72Alexander27
January 7th 2010


49 Comments


It's not that bad, not as good as body riddle though.

Yotimi
November 9th 2010


6571 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is really good. Gotta disagree with the review.

lobby
November 9th 2010


1251 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yeah i really liked this

Zettel
January 4th 2011


605 Comments


This album is fantastic, Massive. I read in complete disbelief your review.

MassiveAttack
January 4th 2011


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I've re-listened to this several times, but I still stand by rating on this review. It was just disappointing on so many levels to me. There are some fantastic tracks on here, but it misses too much for its own good.

Zettel
January 5th 2011


605 Comments


The interesting thing is that I think almost the opposite of what you wrote. I could write a counter-review only using yours as a template, that is why I could not believe what I was reading.

After hearing the disappointing Ceramics is the Bomb, this album made me really believe in Clark's talent. Turning Dragon did not have the same effect on me.

Yotimi
January 5th 2011


6571 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah this is amazing. Body Riddle is really good too.

Meatplow
January 5th 2011


5524 Comments


The interesting thing is that I think almost the opposite of what you wrote. I could write a counter-review only using yours as a template, that is why I could not believe what I was reading.


mirrors how I felt when I first read this, haha

MassiveAttack
January 6th 2011


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Where's your cool avatar at Meatplow? You usually have a few good ones : )



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