Jake’s Jams: Body Riddle

Every other Thursday check out Jake's Jams to see an album from any era, genre, or artist recommended by Jake Standerfer

Jake's Jams: Body Riddle

Broad, hackneyed genre labels are created and implemented with the intent to classify, characterize, and catalog music. However, they occasionally betray the music they are attached to. Although genres are a practical means for discovering new music in terms of what one already likes, they can just as easily reinforce stereotypes and expectations for music, resulting in statements such as “I hate country,” or “I like everything except for techno.” The term “techno” itself brings to mind the scene of a pulsating nightclub, circulating with dingy sexual desires, illicit drugs, and pounding, repetitive, obnoxiously danceable sound. But this attachment only applies to a small component of the described music.

Body Riddle by Clark, an electronic musician of English origin, defies all ill-conceived standards set for such music. Relying not on beat-driven, bass-heavy synths, the album instead contains textured meshes of clashing noise. The record composes itself of simple samples and drum recordings by Clark, but blends these elements seamlessly into complex, detailed constructions. The instrumentals hold varyingly sharp and ambient qualities, pulling and tugging the listener through patterns of intricacy.

Deriving inspiration from early ambient electronic artists such as Aphex Twin, Clark expertly toys with spacey soundscapes but adds more than his predecessors, injecting a metronome-like ticking and clicking texture into the moody environment. Instruments are hard to discern, and all is occasionally lost in a butty haze of deep rumbling, but a persistent sharp clicking sound reoccurs, tying the record together. The instrumental environments created by the music almost exceed human description in terms of words; perhaps even pictures would better describe the dramatic backdrop described by the driving project.

Delighting and emotionally inspiring listeners as the most progressive track, “Night Knuckles” chimes and clicks rhythmically demonstrate a structured orchestration of detailed, sharp sound. The clock-like melody within plays an active role in enhancing joyful emotion on a fast-paced schedule. On the other hand, the track “Frau Wav” loops a variety of sounds continuously, creating a disorienting effect with heavy atmospheric buzzing and humming. Immediately following the track, “Springtime Epigram” only further envelops the listener in an isolated enclosure of lush, blanket-like mistiness invented by Clark.

Taking on more of a psychedelically spaced-out and continuous form, “Ted” punctually moves adrift across its own bleak landscape. Following this organized mess, “Roulette Thrift Run” depicts a paranoid musical narrative of enigmatic creaks and troubled whispers. Concluding the record, “The Autumnal Crush” creeps along as the most downtempo, broken track. The song sizzles down in diminuendo over seven minutes, morphing from crispness to silence. Fizzing slowly into scratchy noise, and then at last into the low rumble of a void, the song mumbles, leaving the album a posed question, a feeling of mystery, unanswered and unconstrained.

Almost indescribable without the implementation of abstract terminology, the record stands as an outlier, a statement. A statement against the conformity and premeditated, formulaic structure of typical techno. Plotted and designed intricately, Body Riddle proves how glorious and victorious music can be by abstaining from the constraining nature of the mainstream.

YouTube Link