Any words I could conjure up for Turning Dragon would ultimately be destroyed, trampled and left to feed face first on the dirt underfoot by Clark’s latest audio onslaught. The sound and tempo of the first track is enough to inspire a horde of orcs’ eyes to grow red in anticipation; it’s the inarticulate noise grinding though the speakers to the very basic beat that gives one the taste for blood. While the melodies become more complex as the album continues, some places growing in the opposite direction, towards refinement, this harshness seems ever present throughout the album. Later in the album, the harsh sounds collaborate with sharper electronics ones that usually take priority in a IDM musician’s toolbox, but Clark is sculpting his sound with mallet and chisel and jackhammer, hewing away silence in sharp edges like spearheads.
Seemingly atonal elements shear through many attempts at symphony in this album, cutting through the thick rhythm like a machete through tulip. On tracks 2, 3, and 11, there are some points where it is hard to even tell where the song went. It is torn to pieces in a second, but the pieces glimmer in tune to tempo, keeping just the tiniest bit of song ringing through the ears until the particles of music can re-form and resemble some shamble of the song before it, glittering rhythm bridging the gap in song. All the sudden, the song continues, but the trust is gone. The pieces might rip out of place again and throw the listener through another dimension and into another song again with a tear in the melodic continuum –– but by then the song’s exploded again and again: one-two, punch in the face…don’t get dazed…
Clark really seems to be jabbing at the listener, all for something visceral. The album is violent, almost provoking the listener at times with these anti-melodic bits screaming through the song like a bullet. While Clark continues to piece together melody before listeners’ ears like he has in the past, Turning Dragon seems to have an ulterior motive, building up the listener so there’s something to wreck, demanding something more of a listener than some head bobbing in headphones: a reaction. Clark is almost sinister here: he is unsettling, shaking the masses out of couches with an earthquake. Some might react with something like this, a review, and some might get up and dance, and some might even break something, but I’m sure that many will be dazed at the punches delivered from the musician (the entertainer). Clark means it with the best intentions, and his best intentions have created something so intricately violent that its a wonder how all this rage and energy comes with such precision, especially to those who are left in something like a shock after “BEG.” This very precision is what is most frightening though; something could be so settled in its brutality that there’s only the slightest misstep in those amelodic sections, which scare even more. Even as I was just listening to it, “BEG” startled me. I shook.
Autechre – Quaristice
Harmonic 313 – EP1
Dabrye – One/Three