A prolific producer and composer who sidesteps easy classification, Clark's body of work teeters between exuberance and foreboding undercurrents. Over the course of his career, his juxtapositions of gritty synths, breakbeats, noise, and nods to house and techno took on many forms. On 2001's Clarence Park, he imbued them with frosty nostalgia; on 2006's Body Riddle, he fortified them with orchestral and jazz flourishes. As the years passed, Clark found wide-ranging ways to express the abrasive and reflective sides of his music. He alternated between them on 2008's hard-hitting Turning Dragon and 2012's pastoral Iradelphic; on 2017's Death Peak and 2021's Playground in a Lake, he combined them unpredictably. Clark's knack for expressing complex emotions within his music made him a natural fit for soundtrack work, and his music for the television series The Last Panthers and Kiri (which he later expanded into 2019's Kiri Variations), and the 2019 film Daniel Isn't Real, earned as much acclaim as his own albums.
Born in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England, Christopher Stephen Clark began making music in his teens and also experimented with constructing his own musical equipment. After studying at St. Albans School, he went to Bristol University; while still a student, he caught the attention of Warp Records by performing at a label party in December 2000 as Chris from St. Albans. The following April, he made his debut on the label as Chris Clark with Clarence Park, an album whose cold, terse synths and big beats earned critical acclaim. Clark settled for a time in Brighton, where he collaborated with Broadcast, with whom he recorded a different version of the track "Herr Barr" and improvisations that were ultimately released in 2006.
The Ceramics Is the Bomb EP followed in May 2003, but it was on that September's Empty the Bones of You that Clark's music reached a new level of maturity, thanks to its disorienting textures and lulling synths. His first release as Clark was February 2006's Throttle Furniture EP, which offered a taste of that October's full-length Body Riddle. Incorporating tweaked live instrumentation along with electronics, the album was another critical success. The Ted and Throttle Promoter EPs followed in Body Riddle's wake. For March 2008's self-described "techno album" Turning Dragon, Clark returned to the completely electronic approach of his earlier work. That year, he also provided the music for Held, Australian dancer/choreographer Melanie Lane's exploration of the relationship between memory and physical spaces. The producer remained prolific in 2009, issuing the Growls Garden EP in March and the eclectic full-length Totems Flare in July.
Over the next decade, the scope of Clark's work continued to grow. In 2010, he scored Lane's piece Tilted Fawn. The following year, he worked with the Brighton collective Blast Theory on the installation Fixing Point, an interactive work that addressed the Conflict in Northern Ireland. He then collaborated with Bibio on "Willenhall/Baskerville Grinch," a limited-edition split single for 2012's Record Store Day. In April 2012, Clark released his fifth album, the folk-tinged Iradelphic. Recorded in a number of locations and featuring contributions from Bibio, the album's sessions were so fruitful that Clark released a downloadable online series called The Iradelphic Sessions as well as an EP, Fantasm Planes, that arrived later that year. The remix collection Feast/Beast, which included reworkings by Massive Attack, Bibio, Depeche Mode, and HEALTH, appeared in 2013. That year, Clark also reunited with Lane for Shrine, a multimedia project inspired by ritual and ceremony.
On November 2014's self-titled album and its single "Superscope," Clark took a harder-edged, more danceable approach that continued on 2015's Flame Rave EP. Also in 2015, Clark composed the music for The Last Panthers, a six-part crime thriller miniseries produced by Warp Films; Warp Records released the BAFTA-nominated score in March of 2016. The following month, he teamed up with Mark Pritchard and Bibio on another Record Store Day single, "A Badman Sound/Heath Town/Inf Inf Inf Inf." For April 2017's Death Peak, Clark incorporated vocals into vibrant yet ominous tracks with a maximalist approach. He followed the album with a few short-form releases that included 2017's Com Truise collaboration Bobbie Caris/Idle Withdrawal and the following year's E.C.S.T. T.R.A.X., which appeared on his own Throttle label. Also in 2018, he and cellist Oliver Coates performed a reimagining of Bach's work at that year's Bach Evolution at Royal Albert Hall. Clark also performed a live score for Stan Brakhage's Dog Star Man at Max Richter's Sounds and Visions event at the Barbican. His next release, Kiri Variations, was a collection of unused pieces he wrote for the BAFTA-winning television series Kiri, the story of a missing girl and the impact her disappearance had on her family and community. Featuring processed acoustic instruments as well as Clark's own voice, the album appeared on Throttle Records in July 2019. Following a pair of techno-oriented singles, "Branding Problem" and "Legacy Pet," that December saw the release of his largely orchestral score for the hallucinatory thriller Daniel Isn't Real, the tale of a college freshman taken hostage by his imaginary friend. In October 2020, a deluxe version of the score arrived with bonus tracks and a Thom Yorke remix. On March 2021's Playground in a Lake, Clark continued to mix orchestral elements with electronics. Featuring Coates, Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor on clarinet, Yair Elazar Glotman on double bass and vocalists Kieran Brunt and Afrodeutsche, the album paired ecological concerns with inspirations ranging from Scott Walker's string arrangements to '70s synth experiments. ~ Heather Phares & Charles Spano
HOMETOWNSt. Albans, Hertfordshire, Englan
BORNAugust 29, 1979