Clark: Themes of Primary Paint

“All about the grit in the pearl.”

Having spent the last 18 years pushing the boundaries of electronic music, Chris Clark has always been a man with a fascinating brain.

His new project, Kiri Variations, once again sees him dive into a new sonic landscape, as he builds from his work on the BAFTA award winning television series Kiri to inspire fourteen carvings of blissfully deranged modern classical and folktronica compositions.

Rich in melody and harmony, the haunting long piece sees Clark strike a fine balance between both playful and unsettling spaces, as he looks to new writing methods and organic sources to fill his sound palette.

Out now via his own label Throttle Records, we caught up with Clark shortly after the album’s release, asking him to share with us some of the musical ideas that helped inspire his latest venture by picking out a selection of tracks that in his words hold – “visceral colour in a similar way to Kiri Variations”.

1. Eddie Warner from 6:31 progressive percussions

James from Broadcast turned me onto this track, I think it’s one of my fave bits of drumming ever. It manages to be hamfisted and elegant and comedic and moving all in one. You can feel the burn of that tape saturation. Etched into the canvas like it will last forever.

2. Grouper – A Clearing

Her music sounds like the excavation of something buried and powerful and hidden. It’s like…permanence. At least compared to life cycles of other musical fashions. She’s one of my fave artists on the planet I think. The colours of her music are exceptional, kind of unrepeatable signal path that makes it way onto the canvas, saturated and blurred in all the right places.

3. Beach House – Gila

I love this, it’s quite old, before they were big. It’s so pure and honest and free of self consciousness. They’ve retained that album to album really. Much to admire. The performance has a feral, seething quality but it’s also restrained. It sounds simple but it’s anything but. They could both be classical composers I reckon. The way it all interlocks, those spidery patterns of guitar lines. Change one note and yer fucked- it couldn’t be any other way. This mesh of Beach House. You fall into it.

4. Popol Vuh

Lovely naturalistic wobble on the piano. I like music that doesn’t waste notes. This sounds good almost 40 years later..

5. Zoviet France-Siege

Such a banging slab of ambient this. It’s all trendy to degrade sound in this way now but these guys were doing it about 500 years ago and it still sounds fresh. It sounds like waking up in a foggy meadow surrounded by friendly cows that show you the way…

6. Pierre Bastien the American Of the Highway

I love everything about this. It’s asymmetrical, slightly out of tune. Ironically, this is where the perfect balance is. Music needs to be like this. I get frustrated with even temperament tuning. You need imperfection, it makes the ideal of perfect more elusive, more tantalising. All about the grit in the pearl.

7. Michael Gordon Decasia part one

Talking about asymmetry listen to the microtones on this funslab! Insane. A friend turned me onto this quite recently and I was really angry I had only just heard of it. I’m crap at checking out new/old stuff. It’s not because I’m not into other music or anything snide like that, it’s just I like constantly painting my own stuff. I’d like to leave behind hours and hours of music when I finally kick the bucket. I’m wary of distraction. I generally only listen to other people’s music to learn from in quite a formal way, ie study the harmony and copy it and change it to my advantage. I generally hate listening to Thelonious Monk away from a piano, it’s just frustrating. The idea of listening to music for fun is something I’m quite jealous of. That’s what you lot can do, you connoisseurs of music. it’s like constantly getting nice meals cooked for you.

8. Marcus Fjellstrom

Pure evocative horrorcore. Tape edits but not retro or cutesy. I was sad to learn he is no longer with us, but these compositions will live on. If you are open to it you don’t forget this shit in a hurry. It’s perfect- modern slabs of dissonance, bold moves, saturated paintwork, terrifying spirit.

9. Mr Oizo – Moustache (half a scissor)

Perfect distortions, perfect colours, perfect asymmetry of composition.

Still one of the best electronic albums of all time. I bumped into Oizo by the snack machine in Brussels airport 2 years ago. He was buying about 4 of those vacuum packed cheese rolls I thought it was a bit gross but let him off, he’s a hero of mine. I need to send him my new score for this film Daniel Isn’t Real whatt I done actually…

10. Couperin

Another Frenchy! They just get the colours I want.

Harpsichords are crass on one level, all those ringing harmonics, but it just means you have to care for them more in your arrangements-orange, luminous, like too much sunshine on the canvas so you better arrange it artfully. Baroque harmony is next level. Still sounds progressive to my ears, those fantastic modulations and unexpected twists.

Anyway, progress in music isn’t like progress in medicine. You can prefer baroque harpsichords to tedious automated 808 hi hats and no one is going to get syphilis.

11. Monpou

I obvs love Debussy but this guy is often overlooked

Similar era but he has some bold colours. There is a muted desolation and sadness to this music, but it doesn’t seem manipulative. Some of his more odd harmony choices are thoroughly appreciated as well. After tugging on your heart strings it will suddenly sound like pure nature interfering, free of human sentiment. I love this in music, it’s like entropy taking control, letting the rot in, letting the pure biology of degradation rot the music in a beautiful way.

Kiri Variations is out now on Throttle Music. 

Buy it here

Featured Image: Alma Haser

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