Verdict = My favourite electronic album of 2008.
My verdict may not be saying a whole lot since I have only briefly scanned the landscape electronic music in 2008. However, between the hipster heavy grit of Crystal Castles, the pregnant time signatures of Venetian Snares and the reappearance of electronic legends Auchtere (not to mention electronic delineations like Cut Copy and Portishead) I’ve listened to a few. Among them, Turning Dragon has not only taken the lengthiest time to comprehend (seriously, I’ve had it pretty much since it was released in January), but has emerged as the most divisive amongst those heads I know who take electronic music seriously. I’m not sure why it’s so divisive though. Maybe it’s for the same reasons that the album required almost a year of my time in order to win my admiration. First impressions are always important and album opener, “New Year Storm,” starts things of with an alienating house beat (someone please correct me on that description if I’m wrong). The beat isn’t alienating because it is bad; it’s just reminiscent of a seriously electro-centric or purest sound that seems tailored for persons more fully integrated in bizarre underworld of electronic music. However, perseverance is key here. As the percussive and textural layers build things slowly become more and more familiar. Familiarity is important, because Clark’s world is an alien one filled to the top with austere post-industrial grit. You simply have to trust yourself to Clark care. About the time you reach “Violent” (track 5) you probably start to think to yourself (if you are anything like me), “ok, I think I am starting to get this a little bit. Maybe, I actually like this…was that a Radiohead sample?” Stop here. Breath. Now go back and listen to the insanely awesome second half. Really, this is where things really start to pick up and Clark simply lets you loose within his world to discover that things might not be as ascetic as they seemed. After a few more listens like this for it was like, “Aha! This is absolutely ridiculous!” It is really worth the effort. Clark (or Chris Clark) is an insanely scrupulous composer and it shows through in the perfections exhibited in his music. Every measure of Turning Dragon is peppered with loads of detail providing endless replayability. Going hand in hand with his composition is his production. Turning Dragon perfectly produced, but is much rougher than the description implies. Clark’s electronics have been painstakingly scraped and rusted in order to produce the world through Clark’s ears. It may take awhile to digest, but the perfective struggle with which Clark has toiled in order to produce Turning Dragon is truly an awe inspiring experience.