Claro Intelecto: Metanarrative
Modern Love

Four years on from Neurofibro, Mark Stewart's Claro Intelecto (translation: “clear intellect”) debut, Metanarrative packages eight tracks into an admirably svelte forty-minute collection that the Manchester native purportedly whittled down from a remarkable one hundred track total. The new album material noticeably pulls back from the skeletal drum-heavy attack of his four Warehouse Sessions 12-inch releases for a melodic and dub-inflected production style that's both lush and deep. Put simply, Metanarrative isn't a set of slamming club bangers but more a soundtrack for the post-rave comedown. Throughout the disc, Stewart pairs his half-speed jacking rhythms with elegant keyboard melodies that exude emotion but in an understated and controlled manner. The material ranges from lush tech-house polished to a sleek Detroit-styled sheen with twilight flourishes and warm pads (“Operation”) to clanging Basic Channel-Chain Reaction territory that Stewart, like a hyperactive Deepchord, injects with a jittery tech-house swing (“Gone to the Dogs”). “Harsh Reality” rolls out with a silken techno chug and a bulbous bass line that ground the song's crystalline atmosphere and its softly chiming main theme. In “Dependent,” perhaps the most elaborately arranged track, gaseous emissions and willowy chords spill onto a pattering dub-techno pulse until the bulbous bass hook arranges the beats into marching formation. “Beautiful Death,” the somber closer Stewart composed in memory of his grandmother, is almost hymnal in spirit with a rhythm that would be almost subliminal if it didn't pulsate so strongly. The song's restrained style is in keeping with the refined esthetic Stewart brings to the album as a whole.

April 2008