Interview: Sit Down Sofa Gear, Clark.

Brand it what you will – ambient or otherwise – but when Chris Clark returned earlier on in the year, he deigned to bring with him his masterpiece. Iradelphic remains a record of our year thus far, hence it was a pleasure to be granted an opportunity to hurl a few concise interrogations in the general direction of his inbox. Below he confronts the dastardly compartmentalisation of all modern-day musics, dream collabs, and dishes out some ever welcome Dylan vitriol...

Dots: Thankfully we no longer live in a world wide web of mutually exclusives, although Iradelphic certainly signalled a divergence from previous endeavours as you veered off in the general direction of palpable instruments and the instrumental organicity they provide. In light of the latest, do you now regard yourself as a more conventional musician for the sake of compartmentalisation?

Clark: Doing anything for the sake of compartmentalisation strikes me as inherently rotten: you put it in a compartment, you put it in a coffin.

Of course whether an album has got flow or not is crucial, but that's got nowt to do with compartments. I've made techno albums and now play the guitar; the piano; drums alongside electronics, and that's all on one record. For some people who are paid members of certain scenes that may seem "zany", although people have obviously been doing that since the late fifties. It's pretty coffee table to my ears. Maybe after a few too many coffees, but still: it's sit down sofa gear nevertheless.

What does that tell you about modern music culture? That it's a bit conservative, maybe?

Dashes: Does such self-appraisal hold any relevance or value whatsoever to you?

Clark: I don't really trust self-appraisal: you can't look at yourself and take objective notes, so I just follow my instincts. Have you ever caught yourself giving yourself a sidelong glance in the mirror? Dodgy. It instantly makes you feel deviant in some way. Reptilian. I got some well dodgy sidelong glances in a bar the other day. I was laughing too much and the boring piss and vinegar couple next to me were just n o t i n t h e m o o d. It's weird how acute joy and merrymaking with friends seems to make certain folk wet with venom. Although some people are over-bearing, and this can be a problem. I aim to exorcise all my over-bearing, dominating urges through my tunes. I'm insufferable otherwise.

Dots: How conscientious was this development in sonic aesthetic toward a more atmospheric, and momentarily even ambient approach? You finally seem to have been accredited with the accolades merited for aeons already...

Clark: In terms of tunes that have that a durable, lasting impact on me that I want to keep forever, nothing ever happens conscientiously. I'm always hunting down the point at which ego disintegrates and time swallows you up. I.e. starting at 5am. Next thing you know it's the evening, and you've written tons of music.

But it's only ever really subconscious moves that give me any direction; the best stuff seems to be signposted in dreams. I had this mad dream the other day of a black circle – like a black wring – almost *glowing* black that was gradually spun out against a glaring white background. And then I though, shit yeah – As The Circle Closes! That track I wrote and stupidly gave away. These images can haunt you and take possession of your waking life, basically.

As for ambient, well, the first thing I ever wrote was beat-less; more purely about the sonics. It was a sketch made of drones. I've still got the MiniDiscs. Christ – whatever happened to MiniDiscs?! I remember making another piece that was lots of folky sounds, chopped up on MiniDisc. You hit random play and you'd have a new track every time. I didn't know shit back then. I hadn't heard of John Cage etc. I literally thought I was the first person to have ever recorded sounds and used them for musical purposes. I'm completely happy being a cog in a chaotic network of human music machines now, though. There's a luscious Fleet Foxes lyric about cogs/machines... I like that guy's voice; he gets almost unbearably fey then gets his balls out at just the right moment – almost too much sugar – then true vocal grit. Talented fella.

Dashes: Martina Topley-Bird's smoky croon seemed to fit so well as it enwrapped your acoustics like a bluish Camel tail whipping around a darkened jazz bar. I'm thinking Secret here. Thinking vocalists though, who would you rope in were reality, geography, and economy no obstacle?

Clark: Victoria Legrand, for sure. Her voice has a delicious texture and I thoroughly approve of Beach House's note choices. I was going to say Robert Smith, but then realised The Cure are one of my favourite bands despite his voice, and not because of it. Disintegration is all about the intros. Sonny Sharrock's Black Woman contains another awesome female vocalist. I should know her name really...

Nico too. Not Bob Dylan though. Fuck that guy. Man, the horrendous blokey cult of adulation that surrounds that guy... Vanilla with cough-syrup for the middle-aged everyman (and God knows that fucker needs to drink some cough syrup). It's not about his music; it's about belonging to a club. Are his lyrics really that good? 6th form poetry, anyone?

Oh shit, here I am online slagging everyone off. I'll blush in my dreams for this.

You see why I don't have a Twitter account? [Clark has a Twitter account.] Bitch-fits at artists all the way – it'd be terrible. I feel guilty even saying this stuff in private! Apart from about huge cultural hog-bags like Dylan obviously [winking keyboard smiley]. Too much reverence around lone cult figures is like cultural plutonium.

Dots: So this forthcoming Fantasm Planes EP. Can it be considered a continuation of sorts of Iradelphic? And were the recordings committed to reels (intangible or otherwise) more or less within one solitary timeframe?

Clark: They pretty much were, yes. I've had Fantasm Planes knocking around for ages, but it was finished around the time of Iradelphic. They weren't committed to reels.

Dashes: You're obviously in the enviable position of being tied in with Warp, although how independent do you believe 'independent music' to really be these days?

Clark: More so than ever ever before – labels are falling face-first. People have a huge appetite for music still though – gigs are where it's at. It's an entirely transitional phase of history, this album business. I'm still committed to it though, even if it may feel like a dying art.

Dots: There have been endless artistic evolutions and slight permutations within dance music. Do you feel it's necessary to have your finger kept on a contemporary pulse at most, if not all times? And how frequently do you feel you're having to observe those within a close proximity stylistically?

Clark: I dunno – a lot of my friends write music but it's impossible to compare really. It's just, well, you play me yours and I'll play you mine. I don't really seek influence from peers nor investigate scenes in that way. Quite often I'll come across stuff by accident and think it sounds ahead of the curve only to then realise: "Oh shit! This is 20 years old!" A favourite of mine at the mo is that Bumps record. The 'Tortoise Do Drum Breaks' thing. It's frightening. Couldn't ever sample that; it'd be sinful. I like choosing purpose crappy samples and then nuking them beyond recognition – it's more satisfying, and more of a challenge too.

Dashes: Finally, shows have always been somewhat few and far between. My plans have always been stymied at any rate – most recently by that notorious Bloc. debacle. How significant is the live show to you, to what extent do you deem it to be a show, and do you see yourself as a subscriber to the mentality that less (or rather fewer) equals more with regard to the overall experience?

Clark: Yeah, you can overdo it for sure. With me it's a constantly evolving thing though – I'm simultaneously dead happy with my show as it is as it truly reflects where I'm at, but yikes, there's still so much work to do. Next year should be a good' un.

Fantasm Planes is out now on Warp, whilst Clark launches the EP tomorrow night at Koko.