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Turning Dragon

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Audio CD, March 18, 2008
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 18, 2008)
  • Original Release Date: 2008
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warp Records
  • ASIN: B0010XSYMW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #149,569 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. New Year Storm
2. Volcan Veins
3. Truncation Horn
4. For Wolves Crew
5. Violenl
6. Gaskarth / Cyrk Dedication
7. Ache of the North
8. Mercy Sines
9. Hot May Slides
10. Beg
11. Penultimate Persian

Editorial Reviews

Product Description


In a recent interview, electronic music producer Chris Clark admitted he's ''a bit of a perfectionist'' when it comes to producing his beyond-intricate instrumentals. This is an understatement. Considering the Warp disciple's flair for pinpoint micro-rhythms, Clark's compositions come across like the inner whirlings of a beautifully disturbed mind. His beats rev up only to exhale into cleansing waves of static; each synthetic echo is draped with an echo of its own; oscillating fragments drift in and out of songs like unsettling half dreams-- this is imposing music. And without Clark's penchant for bruising emotion, it would be as useless as a stack of crashed, clicking hard drives. The human logic within his wave forms is convoluted but nonetheless present; Chris Clark is the guy with the bomb-rubble room-- a leaning pile of CDs here, gear head mags there, questionably clean clothes everywhere - in which everything is oddly in its right place.

Across his first three albums, Clark utilized his talents with steely machines and warmer acoustic instruments - including pianos and drums - to assemble increasingly fluid tapestries, culminating with 2006's masterful Body Riddle. That album - which attempted to answer the body's queries from the inside out - assured its longevity with an all-encompassing attention to detail: Two years later, fresh folds continue to reveal themselves. Turning Dragon takes a detour from Clark's ultimate goal of meshing man and machine into one seamless, clattering bundle. Consisting of material tailored during frenetic live gigs and pegged as a counterpart to Body Riddle rather than a proper follow-up, Dragon finds the robots taking the upper hand. Clark's OCD tendencies are still apparent, but they're conveyed in a markedly brasher manner-- snares snarl, samples fire off semi-automatically, and the compression gets bumped up to Justice levels. It's the fire-breathing flipside to Riddle's contemplative stateliness.

And it's liberating to hear this sonic manicurist doing his best to freak out. Clark wastes no time in addressing his newly hedonistic agenda with the appropriately titled ''New Year Storm''. Ostensibly, this is his take on straight-up techno, but the near-industrial 4/4 pummels more than it pulses as it attempts to push through the producer's constant barrage of air-raid assaults-- this is what Trent Reznor wants to sound like in 2008. Galvanizing beasts ''Volcan Veins'' and ''Truncation Horn'' both employ micro-sampling to punctuate their soaring-BPM onslaughts; in the midst of these recklessly caffeinated raves, Missy Elliott and INXS are nothing but scattershot pawns in Clark's twisted game.

So while Dragon may be billed as a visceral antidote to Clark's impossibly complex Erector Set productions, it still has all the markings of a confessed perfectionist. Yet, as Clark himself said last year, ''To make complex music with machines is actually pretty easy-- it's the mastering of technology rather than the mastering of music.'' While Dragon lacks some of the pathos of Clark's richest work, he's still much more than a mere button-pusher chasing the next plug-in. The struggle between his superhuman technical acumen and his desire to access nothing less than the secrets of the human condition continues to play out here, albeit on a more brazen plane. He's the ideal type of musical perfectionist-- one who realizes flawlessness is unattainable, but strives for it headlong all the same. --Pitchfork

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Philip on March 21, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
So, cool. Clark can make straight forward dance music. Despite this fact, it is in no way a stray from his style. If you take the simplest beats from his previous works, amp up the BPM, and repeat them continuously you have the backbone for Turning Dragon. The same weaved sampling and layered arrangement techniques are applied to create this fierce new sound. From the onset of the album, Clark slaps you in the face with the loud, grainy "New Years Storm", opening and introducing the album with hardly a moment to mislead. It's loud bass and grainy glitches pave the way for the intricate sampling of piano lines and melody that will weave a nice little web among all the noise and cheerful handclaps. Thank you Clark, what would a dance album be without handclaps?

Characteristic of Clark's music, the album flows without flaw. Stated in the Pitchfork review above, Clark is a bit of a perfectionist and it really shows when "New Years Storm" quiets down and evolves into "Volcan Veins", which is littered with chopped up vocal samples supporting the still-driving dance rhythms. Vocal sampling is a new element to Clark's recorded music but does not seem at all out of place. I'd be a little surprised if this didn't end up being the fan-favorite from the record. Vocals always give the human touch necessary for accessible techno to reach a wider audience.

Turning Dragon then subdues the volume and speed in the middle of the album. "For Wolves Crew" is the segway to this portion of the album and the musical force inherent in the beginning of the album begins to change. Although I'm not familiar with what Gaskarth or Cyrk is, the track "Gaskarth / Cyrk Dedication" reminds me of Plastikman's "Helikopter" and is composed of primarily clicks and minimal beats.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Catfood03 on April 13, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Clark's music takes a highly aggressive and abrasive tone with his new CD Turning Dragon. The first half of the CD contains some deeply twisted takes on techno music, like the disjointed "Truncation Horn" and the dark funk of "Violenl". "For Wolves Crew" stretches out to be a multi-sectional masterpiece with peaks of building excitement. The second half is no less peaceful but rather allows for more atmospheric approaches to the techno beats that had gone before, allowing tracks like "Gaskarth/Cryk Dedication" (labeled here as "Radiation Clutch") and "Ache of North" to work in some twisted ambience into the mix.

The production on Turning Dragon is far from polished, although if the aim was to go low-fi or analogue it's to a fault. There's too many musical elements pushed into the gritty end and not enough "clean" sounds to balance it out. Beats and sound effects feel like sandpaper on the ears. This is definitely not a CD I would enjoy on headphones.

The music recalls some of Warp's past glories than any current electronic trend. (I'm thinking Squarepusher's Hard Normal Daddy and Aphex Twin's Richard D. James Album. Turning Dragon doesn't sound like either of those records, but has a certain aesthetic to it that would make it feel right at home in that time period. It's been a long time since a release on Warp had captured that excitement, when the possibilities of electronic music offered by those artists seemed so fresh and exciting. Turning Dragon does this and more.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5
Favorite tracks: "For Wolves Crew", "Ache of the North", "Penultimate Persian"
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Headphone Commute on April 20, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Chris Clark is growing on me. In 2001 we got introduced to Clark through Clarence Park. In 2003, we saw him evolve with Empty The Bones Of You. Body Riddle was the 2006 release when Christopher Stephen Clark simply went by his last name. But in 2008, Clark is Turning Dragon. This is a much harder, slamming, compressed thud, that keeps the heart pumping, and the brain tweaking. Five years in the making (guessing by the fact that previous LP was simply an archive of earlier and unreleased material), Clark is the front-runner of the experimental drive merging dark IDM and ferocious beats, where the genre thrives. The first half of the album employs a welcoming onslaught of pounding 4/4 beats. Turning up the volume, I'm reminded of the early warehouse events where the bass slapped off the cold walls. But does four-to-the-floor formula immediately categorize as techno? Slapping the latter term may understate the complexity of the production - it is very far from minimal or repetitive approach. The detail may surprise even the fans already familiar with Clark's perfectionism. Further into the album, Clark breaks up the rhythm, and keeps on grinding. To share in the brutal intensity that hurts so good, Clark has offered an Album Sampler [see direct links below]. If you enjoyed the ride, seek out the December '07 vinyl, Throttle Promoter, or hit bleep dot com for instant digital gratification. Recommended if you like the darker side of Autechre, Funckarma, and AFX.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert S. Costic on December 7, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Clark's attention to rhythm and timbre is exquisite. Sure, it's a rough and gritty album, but it's a real joy to hear the unique sound world he creates, and tracks like "Violenl," which is like a Missy Elliott remix on acid, practically throw me out of the chair dancing. The only limitation of this album is a limitation that I notice in most techno artists, which is that Clark either hasn't mastered or doesn't care about harmonics. This may seem like a ridiculous thing to complain about, but one thing I've noticed upon repeated listening is that his ideas are sometimes trapped by his lack of any sort of harmonic progression, and so he's left with no choice but to fade out one idea and fade in another.
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