The Autumnal Crush
Is electronica dead? Its certainly quite easy to trace the influences of Chris Clark’s Body Riddle. There are the tape-damaged keyboards patented by Boards of Canada; the rough jazzy breaks and dusty sampling of early DJ Shadow, whose influence over electronica has been understated; and the sped-up glockenspiels popularised by Kieren Hebden. Other influences might include Shadow disciple Broadway Project, BOC disciples Kelpe or the creepy lo-fi tape loops of Colleen. The question is whether it proves greater than a sum or its parts. At times it does, but at others Clark seems to pile on the effects and the influences to the point of overload, where a less is more approach is sometimes more effective.
Opener Herr Bar is the album’s most immediate track: rollicking Shadow-esque breaks, distorted synths and broken music box chimes (or is that a glockenspiel!) building compellingly until everything seems to get get sucked dramatically into a vortex of slippery backwards effects. Frau Wav is a top heavy layered cake of musty samples and hazy orchestration in the mold of said DJ’s Endtroducing. Herzog is a tediously pointless four minute demonstration of how to use a 303, one acid squall note pattern repeated and tinkered repeatedly to little consequence. Ted is less derivative, with its slightly deranged, dischordant keyboard loops over headnodding percussion coming off like an electro Philip Glass. Roulette Thrift Run is menacing, stylish dancefloor electro embellished with saxophone squeals and whispery scat singing. Vengeance Drools is a derivative Shadow/Broadway Project piece with some irritatingly uninspired one-finger piano playing. Matthew Unburdened begins promisingly with some lovely keyboard effects but gets bogged down in po-faced orchestrations before petering out. Night Knuckles, with its 1000 bpm chimes (yes, glockenspiels!), is embarrassingly close to Four Tet’s Spirit Fingers, which has already been plundered by numerous artists (e.g. Pedro). The Autumnal Crush overloads the musical pallet in a kind of post-rock (think Mogwai) style sonic release.
Criticisms aside it’s an extremely well accomplished and atmospheric album most hardcore electronica fans will have little to complain about – bleakly autumnal and heartfelt. But it remains to be seen when and if a totally new and original voice will come out of electronica to shake things up a bit.