Fantasm Planes: Clark

“It just felt right..."
Clark hood.jpeg
Chris Clark might be known for cerebral, head-nodding electronics but deep down he just likes to dance. This year’s full length ‘Iradelphic’ may have been all texture over tempo, but the album’s meticulous production – the care and attention he pays to each grain of sound – leant itself to the womb-like aura of the soundsystem environment.

Consistently tailoring his live show, Clark found at the completion of ‘Iradelphic’ that his creative moodswings were pulling him in new directions. Adding some re-inforced beats, the producer began working on material which had a far more propulsive edge and – dare we say it – a dancefloor edge.

The results are gathered on new EP ‘Fantasm Planes’. A curveball gesture from an artist who has built a career around sudden changes in direction, the release finds Clark further exploring soundsystem ethics. Yet it seems that the EP isn’t a sudden, planned, direct gesture. “I just had a lot of tracks floating around after the album was done to use in the live show and it felt like a good way to introduce them through an EP.” he explains. “It just felt right, I write so much music it didn’t feel right to sort of, keep it back and these other versions felt like strong alternate takes to the album”.

Unafraid to poke fun at himself, Clark makes the comparison between ‘Fantasm Planes’ and the relatively sedate full length ‘Iradelphic’. It feels more beat driven and less introspective. It’s not just the headphones music that sounds good, it’s loud in clubs as well. It’s a lot kind of bass heavier than the album. The album’s almost coffee table!” he laughs.

Switching between life as a studio and live musician, Clark allows both environments to intersect during his creative spells. “The tracks in the EP were mainly written before the live show” he insists. “But they were mostly written kind of like so people could hear the album but in a different context live than in a club. I definitely take a lot from playing live then going back into the studio. Bass heavy music seems to start raising ideas. When you do a gig you come back from it feeling fresh and creative”.

Clark - Fantasm Planes



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A standalone document in its own right, ‘Fantasm Planes’ perhaps makes more sense when placed alongside ‘Iradelphic’: indeed, the works share three – albeit radically re-worked – tracks. “It’s kind of a bookend - I’m not going to do another EP that’s kind of ‘Iradelphic’ related because we did all of the free tracks as well. So we’ve released a lot of music around this album so it’s kind of time to make a clear break…It’s kind of breathing a bit more life into it to hear it in a kind of different way still a similar texture and theme to it. I think that’s why EPs are good.”

One of the themes running through the new EP is the use of bass. Whether as a soft cushion for rhythmic exploration or as an imposing, claustrophobic atmosphere Clark seems to be dwelling in the dark, low tones of the system - yet this appetite has taken the producer by surprise. “Yeah, it confuses me because I’m not a bass addict, I can still listen to music with tonnes of mid-range in it” he chuckles. “It’s not essential for me to hear bass in it. It’s only something that really works in clubs and that can be quite frustrating as a producer because I don’t really go to clubs that much, I listen to music at home on hi-fi so it’s not always that important for there to be a massive sub-bass element in there especially digital bass”.

Continuing, the warmth that bass can offer a production. “The way it’s kind of produced goes on – in terms of the frequency spectrum it kind of goes on forever” he says. “I guess the draw is that nice analogue roll off that you get that prevents it from being there from being loads of sub, but it’s got that kind of warmth. I’m not into those kind of sine wave bass lines that just drift forever. For me it sounds good in a club but that’s the only context for it really”.

Looking ahead, Clark is set to head up a sublime line up of acts at KOKO this weekend (September 15th). Joined by Plaid, Shigeto, Illum Sphere and more the night should turn the historic Camden landmark into a palace for future electronics and total immersion visuals. Employing a full time sound engineer, Clark intends to every aspect of his performance to be meticulously planned out. “For the first time I’ve got a sound guy – its really important in what I do” he explains. “But we’ve just got a lot of modular analogue gear on stage. You don’t really need to do a lot to that. If you produce on a laptop you’ve got to lot of work behind what you do but with analogue gear, what’s so good about it is that it’s so quick and easy. The sounds already there so you don’t really need to tweak it that much. I’m very specific about clubs that I play just because it’s more kind of exhilarating when it’s louder obviously”.

Check out Clark at London's KOKO venue this Saturday (September 15th).

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'Fantasm Planes' is out now.

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