Michael Clark’s debut EP ‘Something To Be Won’ is a swirling and atmospherically tender set of four songs. Poignant and heavy in content, but shimmering and sparse in style, it’s a collection of songs that is more about mood than subject or power.
“I use imagery to create a certain mood,” Clark says of his work, “no songs have specific meanings, it’s supposed to be more of an interpretation for the listener.”
Clark lives and works in Falmouth. He grew up in a household full of instruments and inspirations, working alongside his late father, Gavin Clark, himself something of a cult musician in the Cornwall arts scene. The song ‘Something To Be Won‘ was first put out into the world in 2014, so these songs have been brewing for a while. Yet they are not at all overworked.
Far from it -there’s a lot of space in the songs. Barren and wintry, the restraint that flickers in songs is affecting in its dark ambience. ‘Trails of Ice‘, for example, sounds chilly in its soundscape through what is not said. A beguiling sense of barrenness pervades the record. Opening song ‘Cold At Dusk‘ sees Clark’s hand flicker on the notes as his voice drawls across the top, never really shifting a gear.
As the video to lead single ‘End Is Near‘ (a smart animated piece by Rachael Olga Lloyd) shows, nature and the earth are key influences on the music. The song is about the different paths we choose in life, as days pass us by and time creaks on. These are age old preoccupations, and sadly Clark does nothing fresh with them.
The trouble with all this sparseness is that at times it seems like nothing is really happening. Dreamy starts to err on the edge of dreary, and melancholy becomes maudlin. Out on a live tour, his backing band now consists of Jack and Lily Wolter from Penelope Isles and Benjamin Woods from The Golden Dregs, which might liven things up a bit. I can see how he’d be a nice listen around the campfire or with a roaring fire in the pub, but for gloomy January days, the EP brings me down too much to enjoy it.
God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.