Kiri Variations, the latest LP from electronic auteur Clark, grew out of music that Clark wrote for Euros Lyn’s 2018 television miniseries Kiri. Given that many of these pieces were initially conceived for the screen it’s perhaps no surprise that Clark largely adopts a more measured approach here than he did on his previous album, 2017’s bombastic Death Peak.
This is quite possibly Clark’s prettiest work to date. Across Kiri Variations we find Clark spooling out music rich in melody and harmony. Strings and pianos often take centre-stage, a smart choice that only adds to the heightened emotion of these pieces. Moments such as ‘Simple Homecoming Loop’ and ‘Tobi Thwarted’ have a stately quality not dissimilar to Olafur Arnalds, and the influence of William Basinski is also keenly felt.
While Kiri Variations may not be as dystopian and overdriven as Death Peak the album still finds Clark plumbing his music with eerie, destabilising sonics. Unsettling synth drones often sneak up on the listener under cover of the acoustic instrumentation, something that brings cuts like ‘Bench’ to a powerful climax. Occasionally the maximalist tendencies of Clark’s previous output come to the surface once more - by they the degraded, Oneohtrix Point Never-esque tones of ‘Banished Hymnal’ or the highly spooky choir that dominates album closer ‘Goodnight Kiri’.
Clark dials back the beats to create an uncanny delight in Kiri Variations.