Pretorian avant-garde electronic composer and visual artist Frederick Clarke (aka Mathroom) has made it his mission to establish solace outside the parameters of comfort. His music is a fractal explosion of sampled and programmed noises seemingly at war with each other. Worlds can be heard shattering into jumbled up fragments of data on his jarring compositions. His newest offering entitled “KO Flights” is the epitome of this uniquely disturbing form of beauty. Inspired by the scrambled dialects of our information age, all of its eleven cacophonous songs capture the quality of hard truths. As nutritious as they are difficult to digest.
The origins of Clarke’s sonic anarchy can be traced back to earliest encounters with music as a teenager. This was when it dawned on him that the rules of form could be poisonous to the purity of expression. “I got into recording and composing in high school, and figured out for myself that music theory was something I didn’t want to learn, despite several failed attempts.” says Clarke.
“With all respect to the history and theory structure of music, I felt excitement in the mystery of not knowing what comes next, or what to call it, with no imposed rules and definitions.” he explains. Before ruefully reflecting “…It’s a strange thought that once a language is learned and internalized it cannot be unlearned.“
With all respect to the history and theory structure of music, I felt excitement in the mystery of not knowing what comes next. Or what to call it, with no imposed rules and definitions.
Yet that’s precisely what his music sounds like: a bio-mechanical language unravelling. His imagination, willingly untamed, creates the sort of beats an expressionist painter would make if their palette and canvas were replaced with a malware corrupted sound bank. Like Jackson Pollock pruned profound imagery out of randomized splatter, allowing his imagination to collaborate with gravity, Mathroom aims to do the same with his music. “… I almost never premeditate what I make and feel most in tune and online when I work blind. I trust that when I feel the energy to create something it will manifest, my task is to stream the elements, and forge them into a form of balance and soul that communicates”, he explains. “This is how I see each artwork or song. They are individuals that must exist independently from their maker.”
His latest record “KO Flights” released under local leftfield imprint Subterranean Wavelength, is an expedition into the speculative extraterrestrial terrains of electronic music. The expressionist school that informs his work as a visual artist spills over delicately into the messy equations which radiate through his unsettlingly chaotic compositions. “It’s an expression of something I experience from a deep place. Like opening windows into other worlds that feel innately familiar and simultaneously alien.”
It’s an expression of something I experience from a deep place. Like opening windows into other worlds that feel innately familiar and simultaneously alien.
Between its bewildering rhythms, schizophrenic melodies and the nightmarish entropy of its arrangements, the record adventurously articulates the destructive quality and discomfort of progress rushed and prioritized over preservation. “ The abstract theme of the record is a house of horrors, a game of fear and mystery that reveals itself. Ultimately overcoming fear and perhaps even enjoying it in a new form as the journey goes. And the desired effect is definitely achieved. Each song sounds as if it were sung by a choir of malfunctioning technologies. Evocative of the horrifying side-effects of capitalism and its suicidal mantra of planned obsolescence. “It’s about tiers of obstacles and experience. I’m constantly interested by the evolution of technology, and the effect it has on our psyches. There was something about the warmth and essence of the 80s and 90s that remains a high point for me.” he explains.
And when asked about the myriad challenges of being part of the avant-garde in a continent that barely acknowledges its existence, his response was encouragingly indifferent. “The main reason for making music is the making itself, that’s the joy for me, the crucible moment of making and the drive to make more. To imagine the next thing, to discover new sonic species. I don’t really think too much about the success or failure of these creations. I trust they will find their place in the world.” he said.