Claro Intelecto – Reform Club review

In a form where anonymity and a seamless relationship between people and technology are seen as desirable, Claro Intelecto’s music oozes humanity. To this writer’s ears, each release from Mark Stewart brings with it a frailty and vulnerability, as if the UK producer has shared a part of his private life with the listener. This key characteristic was what made his last album, Metanarrative, such compelling listening, and the same quality is audible in spades on Reform Club. It would be easy and unforgivably lazy to lump Claro’s work in with the great unwashed of deep/dub techno. While Reform Club does sparkle and shimmer with epic strings, ghostly reversed chords and dreamy synths, it’s the interplay between these elements and Stewart’s unpredictable rhythmic dalliances that make his third album so rewarding.

“Reformed” is a case in point: glassy percussion and sensuous string passages suggest an adept take on classic Detroit techno, but the underlying, resonating bass depicts an artist highlighting flaws and imperfections. In a similar vein is “It’s Getting Late”, where evocative chords unfold over a quirky bassline and the raw, Aardvarck-esque beats and breathy melodies of “Scriptease”. But it’s the tracks where Stewart appears to be sharing his own personal experiences that have the greatest impact. The atmospheric, chiming synths of “Still Here” has the same underlying sadness that Stewart articulated so beautifully on Metanarrative and the whistling sounds and serene ambience of “Quiet Life” elevate Stewart to the same level as great musical storytellers like Mark Hollis and Ian Curtis. The fact that be can bare his soul and document deeply personal topics without resorting to words makes his voice all the more powerful.

Richard Brophy


Tracklisting:

1. Reformed
2. Blind Side
3. Still Here
4. It’s Getting Late
5. Scriptease
6. Control
7. Second Blood
8. Night Of The Maniac
9. Quiet Life