It might seem curious that laptop evil genius Chris Clark, having just months ago released his commercially successful full-length, Iradelphic, would respond so swiftly with a follow-up EP. Two facts to consider: no electronic-music artists are sonically spot-on 100% of the time, and, secondly: the very nature of their art allows for a perhaps flawed impulse towards prolificacy. Iradelphic, truly, is a solid album. Clark’s work, which more often than not tends to dash between industrially inspired, metallically distorted instrumentals and hard-hitting beat-driven anthems, had gradually introduced a softer touch: whimsical female vocals that provide more of a singer-songwriter-y, pop-music aesthetic than has previously appeared in his tracks. For some it might be a warm addition, but it also seems nostalgic for that time in the 1990s when every other indy-rock album firmly stood on a bedrock of trance and trip-hop influenced production.
Which is, for the most part, what Fantasm Planes recalls. Where Iradelphic dealt in cavernous execution and the mingling of club-worthy beats under baroque synth melodies more in line with electronic music forebears like Tangerine Dream—lovely, but just this side of terrifying—Fantasm abandons melody and mood as a concern and, instead, attempts to inhabit a broader, more abstract musical space. The EP rework of Iradelphic lead single, “Com Touch,” appearing as “”Com Re-Touch/Pocket for Jack,” strips away the hypnotic synth leads and amps up the bassline, the cacophony, and the sparking, tinny riff that worms its way through most of the EP. We still have our baroqueness, this time in the form of a monotonous harpsichord run. There’s nothing wrong with remixing yourself—electronic artists are practically required to do so in live sets—but there’s little point of a remix that manages to suck the majesty out of a track instead of celebrating its other strong points. While Fantasm Planes aims to capture the ante-versions of Iradelphic songs as drifting minimalist collages, it’s a tough sell after such a fully realized album—unless, of course, you’re a collector of that sort of thing.