If there is one thing we expect from Clark, after ten years of releases on the seminal UK label Warp Records, it's change and experimentation in his music.
His latest album, Iradelphic, starts out with acoustic guitar, moves through arpeggiated synths, crunched out drums and organic sounds. There are even some wonderful collaborations with famed Massive Attack vocalist Martina Topley-Bird and a beautifully composed piano piece.
Clark's live shows are associated with club settings but he manages to include a brilliant ambience in his recorded works. There's the sense of a real journey and this common occurrence of a reprise in his records. On the phone from his home in England, Chris Clark agrees but he's not too sure where it comes from.
"It's subconscious but there are certain themes and feelings that always seem to come back around like an echo. It's good to put that in a musical form. Especially as you go through an album and hear these layers creep in again."
Iradelphic can be seen in three movements. The album starts with the acoustic opener of Henderson Wrench and bleeds into the synth heavy Com Touch - classic Clark sound territory if ever there was any - which distorts and becomes the dreamy track Tooth Moves that is torn asunder by Clark's aggressive synth solo. Skyward Bruise/Descent is a classic modular synth piece that would have found it's place easily in the science fiction films of old.
The second movement commences with Open, the first track on the album featuring Martina Topley-Bird. It features a cyclical guitar refrain and it loops around, mirroring her 'ebb and flow' lyrics. The next track, Secret, Clark and Topley-Bird's second collaboration on the album, features a much more traditional song structure. The crunched out static is still there but we treated to an echo of old trip hop tracks and a Burt Bacharach-style chorus - beautiful stuff. Ghosted closes the middle of the album with its washed-out guitar and vocal refrain at the end.
Black Stone, a delicate, solo piano piece, opens the third movement. It precedes the triptych of The Pining - an excited set of tracks that bounce between organic and electronic sounds - before the album ends with the floating atmospherics of Broken Kite Footage. It's all over in just under 40 minutes but Iradelphic is a spectacular journey. It's also an equally strong statement of his artistic originality as any of Clark's other work.
It has been three years since his last release so why the wait? "I think I just needed a long break because I had put out three albums in just under three years," explains Clark.
"I didn't want to over expose myself and it was just good to get back in the zone of writing music really without any audience in mind. That just really helped the flow of it."
Surely an artist with as much experience as Clark doesn't feel as much pressure now? "I think I literally mean an audience in front of me," he reflects. "I did so many gigs around Totems Flare - I was gigging every week basically for about a year. It was just really nice not to play my music in front of anyone," he laughs.
"It was really nice to get back to the zone where I was operating purely without playing music out in clubs in mind. I think it really affects how you write after a while. If you are permanently thinking about what it's going to sound like in a club then your records are going to naturally have a limited scope. So it just felt like a kind of escape from all of that really. I think that's how the process happened."
The break between Clark's releases was also about giving himself time to judge his own work. "I was interested in the idea of just waiting and seeing which tracks had some kind of resonance after that time and still felt valid. That sort of feels like a move that makes an album strong because I have listened to those tracks so many times and I keep on coming back to them."
There is a great balance between Clark's live shows and his albums, with the latter being a true dance affair. "It's more exciting for me to hear slightly more aggressive music loud," he confesses.
"I have had a few gigs that have gone really well lately so that's been good. I think it's just because I had loads of time to prepare. I haven't really spent as much time preparing in the past as I have for these ones."
Clark is now using a lot of analogue equipment when he plays live. "There's a lot more gear on stage now. I'm much more engaged with it and the audience as well. I sort of managed to improvise quite a lot of the recent live shows which I had never done before and it worked. I didn't expect it to because it had tracks that I was playing back with stuff from the album and other tunes. There's like full on passages of improvised bits now which is just really exciting to do in front of loads of people. It's quite scary as well!" he says with a nervous laugh.
"I'm going to bring a whole heap of modular gear, some synths and stuff like that with me to Australia actually. I really hope doesn't smash to bits on the plane because it could do! I'm looking forward to it."
BY SIMON HAMPSON
Clark [UK] performs at Revolt on Tuesday April 24.