Album of the week: Claro Intelecto – Exhilarator

Claro Intelecto’s music swells and breathes with a dense t ecclesiastic choir of synthesisers and drum machines, pulsing at various speeds through the history of electronic music. A moonlighting project for Manchester’s Techno veteran Mark Stewart, Claro Intelecto skirts around the genre’s more marginal exploits, combining elements of dub, electro and IDM into mesmerising creations of a subtle type of beauty. Tracks like “Peace of Mind” with its deep, soulful interpretation of the Electro genre and albums like “Metanarrative” in which dub bass lines lament amongst long legato pads,  provide a kaleidoscopic Bifröst between dance music genres and more introspective listening experiences. It’s been five years since Stewart channeled this into the album format with “Reform Club”, but at the end of 2017 he’s returned to the Delsin label with the highly anticipated “Exhilarator”.

“Exhilarator” shows yet another dimension to Claro Intelecto, engendered as IDM by critics and bots alike, for lack of its more eclectic origins. Definitely more sporadic, and less humane than its forbearers, the album’s unique and alien sonic signature is interspersed with fragmented break-beat rhythms playing against each other in the language of intelligent machines. Claro Intelecto’s softer side is still present in the harmonious tracks like “Pantomime” or “Through the Cosmos”, with melodic synth lines bouncing off lethargic pads,  but hiding behind every part is always something quite disconcerting or strange.

Stewart’s sonic palette strives for undiscovered territories on “Exhilarator” and although deep Rhodes chords and 90’s-era pads are still prevalent, odd electronic curiosities weave their way in and out of arrangements like mischievous digital ear-worms looking to disrupt the peace, or piece. At times they subtly arrange themselves towards the rear of the tracks, adding some malevolent small element of intrigue to the atmosphere, while at other times they’ll distort and even disrupt the pulse of a track, like on the 7-minute long masterpiece “Kozyrev’s Mirror”. It’s the futuristic sonic disposition of Techno brought to live around familiar tropes that forego the adverse isolation of pure experimentalism.

Claro Intelecto’s “Exhilarator” offers us a way into fringe of electronic music through the familiar and deposits the listener into a multi-disciplinary world of music beyond the obvious or the conventional.