Quarter Mile Thunder Twist.

Chicago musician Ben Clarke’s latest offering under the name of Quarter Mile Thunder is a brooding and atmospheric slice of misty folk and ambient sounds and pulses. With synthesisers and banjo given equal weight the eight songs here merge almost into one piece and if it weren’t for Clarke’s vocals one wouldn’t be surprised if this was the result of a collaboration between Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois with some pieces very remiscent of Eno’s Apollo Soundtracks. Clarke’ roots the album however with his voice and lyrics which provide the folky element. Laid back in the mix (sometimes too laidback) he almost croons the songs over the sonic orbits that surround him, his wispy voice is as atmospheric as the music and at times recalling Bon Ivor.
I Am Hurting Too opens the album with a mild cacophony of electronic flotsam before voices and guitar ground the song as Clarke evokes the spirit of Will Oldham as he sings mournfully of a relationship where she “has sucked the venom from his wound.” It’s a fine song but here and elsewhere on the album the ambient noise distracts somewhat from what could be delivered much more simply. Clarke proves this on the next song, Absolute Beginner, where the atmospherics are more subdued allowing his voice and the guitar to shine. Throughout the album the songs are like nuggets of gold needing to be sieved to uncover their beauty, some shine brightly such as the slightly Stones’ sound of What’s It Like and the stately piano driven M Plates but the mother lode is found on the closing song It’s All The Same To You. Here Clarke balances the thrum and throb so that it pays service to the song creating a narcotic buzz that is not dissimilar from the latest Simone Felice and John Murry offerings. A great song and a fine close to an album that strains to be heard. It’s available via Bandcamp on a name your price offer.


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