There's a lovable yin and yang to Chris Clark's sonic din, a mashup of lament and lullaby. The lurking chaos on Death Peak, and indeed every one of his experiments, is dreadfully gorgeous. Though less dark than his defining album or his latest soundtrack, Clark's latest balances whimsy and savagery just enough to know it's his.
The perilous "Spring But Dark" begins a journey over not just one peak, but a whole range. Each cinematic ascent tumbles to the next, but every denouement is just as hopeful as it is terrifying. His eclectic touch blasts off on "Butterfly Prowler," and underlies the hiss and clockwork of "Slap Drones," while an ongoing, pervasive exploration of vocals as "the most perfect synth" is present on singles "Peak Magnetic" and "Hoova" ' and throughout the rest of the album. On the brief "Aftermath," an interlude that could also be an epilogue, his composition experience and sound investigation converge nicely.
"Catastrophe Anthem" seems to reboot to a new album, as if the three-song coda forms a self-contained story. The first of these, with its children's choir chanting a haunting and paradoxical "We are your ancestors," flows into synth sighs on "Living Fantasy." Finale "Un U.K." perfectly frames the musician's fixation with human voices and his long-time love of smashing conflicting ideas together. The 10-minute outro covers broad sonic territory, from a brush with clouds in the sky to bouncing off the skyscrapers in hell. But even after a demonic chase through an anxious landscape, its heavenly outro ends with bass purring into submission and a lone giggle that wins the day.
It just seems to say that life happens, and confirms Clark's production is still as much commiseration as it is abandon. (Warp)