It has been over a decade now since the release of Aphex Twin’s magnum opus of 2001 Druqks. But picking up the slack in the absence of Richard D. James’s prolific pen name is his labelmate Chris Clark, who has done quite a magnificent job in keeping the art of IDM on the bleeding edge over the last 10 years with a succession of LPs that stayed true to the root of its art and refused to kowtow to any kind of fleeting trends in electronic music. In fact, if he does absorb any kind of new hip thing into his mix, be it drum ‘n’ bass or electroclash or dubstep, he does so in such a unique way that it becomes something entirely his own.
Yet on Iradelphic, the St. Albans-born boardsmith undergoes a complete systems reboot of his entire creative process with perhaps the most significant remodeling of his artistry to date. For his sixth full-length for Warp, Clark eases up on the digital dependence that reigned supreme over such previous works as 2006’s Body Riddle and 2009’s Totems Flare in favor of fusing modern technology with live instrumentation and antique studio equipment to construct the flighted grooves across these dozen compositions. Call it IDM unplugged, if you would.
Iradelphic was recorded in a variety of international locales, from Australia to Berlin to London to Brussels to Cornwall to Norway to Wales, where he dug his heels into a lengthy and fruitful jam session with fellow Warp mate Bibio, though only a portion of which is used here. Among the hodgepodge of gear put to the test on such material as “Henderson Wrench”, “Com Touch”, “Ghosted” and the three-part suite “The Pining” includes everything from harpsichords, orchestral drums and acoustic guitars to damaged cassette tapes, Dictaphones and a Cold War-era microphone to modular synths and state-of-the-art laptop programs, with the interpolation of ancient and futuristic sine waves delivering something truly out of this world. Adding to the human element of the record is the presence of singer Martina Topley Bird, no stranger to the abstract groove scene by any stretch of the imagination. Here, Clark employs her trademark coo on two tracks, “Open” and “Secret”, bringing out some of her most quixotic vocal work since the Tricky days.
Eleven years after springing from the rib of Aphex Twin’s indefinite studio hiatus, Iradelphic is Chris Clark at the acme of his powers as a composer and conductor of electronic currents, redirecting his self-proclaimed boredom with computers to craft some of the finest work of his career to wit.