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Music Review A rather disappointing loss of plot

Clark with the London Contemporary Orchestra (LCO)
Barbican

 

TECHNO polymath Chris Clark reinvents himself as a classical composer with latest album Playground In A Lake, a work that saw him learn how to read and write sheet music before producing, which he performs for the first time with an orchestra.

The album feels like a continuation of his impressive soundtrack work – The Last Panthers, Kiri Variations and Daniel Isn’t Real – and is an elegiac journey that he describes as “a story about real climate change, but told in mythological terms.”

There are moments of beauty and awe, where the juxtaposition of gentle strings with electronic dystopian dissonance on Entrophy Polychord perfectly captures an imagined futurescape, producing what you would expect from a collaboration between an electronic artist and an orchestra.

Earth Systems and Shut You Down are also both brilliant slabs of nightmarish classical electronica that wouldn’t be out of place on the darkest of sci-fi soundtracks.

However, there are times when the electronic input is too subtle and ambient to immediately recognise, as if Clark isn't there and the orchestra has taken over, such as on Comfort And Fear and the piano-led Suspension Reservoir.

Clark seizes the opportunity of performing with the London Contemporary Orchestra to play several from his soundtrack to this year’s drama miniseries Lisey’s Story – Dark Acid Climbs, Lisey’s Requiem, Boo’ya Moon, Paulagony, Crossing Over and Liminal Shifting are all given a showing.

Although again, all of these incidental works see Clark very much in the background and greatly slows down any energy that was created in the more conceptual pieces from Playground In A Lake.

It would be interesting to see how some of Clark’s techno tracks of old would be complemented by an orchestra, rather than just those written with an orchestra in mind.

As it is, the end result is an all-too-sombre affair that leaves you
wanting.

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