The signs were there as far back as Chris Clark’s 2001 EP Ceramics Is The Bomb or the attendant debut album Clarence Park. In the intervening years, Clark has evolved into one of electronic music’s most essential exponents. From his initial love of old-school samplers and found sounds through to his present day reputation as a sound-mangler par excellence, Berlin-based Clark has consistently shown the techno chaff just how the techno wheat sounds.
Clunky metaphors aside, new self-titled album, Clark, further cements that reputation with a blistering palette of analogue and digital elements all fused into one glorious whole. Tracks like Winter Linn, Unfurla and Silvered Iris bristle and crack with kinetic energy that makes for an immersive listening experience.
Clark recently brought his frenetic live show to London’s East End Studio Spaces club (under the auspices of The Hydra), so we caught up with him to find out which tools make the journey with him from his Berlin studio into his live rig for use in those incendiary performances.
For the full interview with Clark, check out Future Music 287 (January 2015), which is on sale now.
“I just love that machine. I don’t actually know if it’s any good, but I’ve used it so much and the snare on it is amazing, and it just feels so brilliant the way it slightly swings when you open up the release on it. To me that sounds really sweet. So, I’ve got that on a mono-channel on my Mackie desk so I can EQ it, and I’ve got two FX sends.”
“[The live rig] all started with Ableton really, which is the first bit of software I have felt slightly embarrassed to be using. I used it for the new album and it’s pretty amazing and so built for rugged live use.
“I love the Arrangement View in Ableton, which isn’t so much for live shows, but what I do love is that there are live views for doing gigs and then there’s live recording, which I think is completely brilliant.”
“They’re just really simple to use live and they’re pretty amazing controllers that integrate well with Ableton.”
“I hired an original Minimoog when I was making the album and I have to say I was completely underwhelmed by it, to the point of thinking, this is just retro nonsense! There’s about 2% more grain, distortion and unpredictability on the filter than there is on the Voyager but it’s not night and day… [laughs] more like ‘5.30pm vs 5.35pm’.
“The dissing that the Voyager gets is ridiculous as it’s amazing; it’s like a perfectly updated Moog. You can get any missing roughness back just by putting it through some valves or through the Moog phaser. I don’t like phasers when they sweep; I just use them more as EQs.”
Future additions to the live rig
“Maybe more synths or just one more, lush, polysynth could be nice. I’ve got an Oberheim OB-X that’s broken so that could possibly get fixed and used at some point.
“I’m really into the u-he soft synths, which are amazing. They’re so deep and brilliantly programmed that I would like some time to go deeper into them. I’ve got a Thermionic Culture Vulture and if you whack one of the u-he synths through that it’s amazingly warm. I’ve got an API 550 Dual EQ and the only thing I really use on it is the 50Hz bell-curve on the soft synths.
“Other than that, I think it’s just a case of exploring more of the dynamics of what I’ve got as there’s still so much fruit there.”
Clark is out now on Warp. Check out the Clark website for news, gigs and releases.