Long term fans of the ‘Techno Baron’ Dave Clarke will know that as well as being the absolute don of his genre - the only person coming anywhere near in terms of influence and legacy being Detroit legend Jeff Mills - he’s also just as comfortable working outside of the confines of techno.
Anarchic in spirit and a true punk, Clarke's albums have thus far have reflected this attitude. He also enjoys a place in the higher echelons of the DJ world due to his superlative skill (check his Boiler Room set for a masterclass in what's possible with a couple of turntables and some imgination) and is rightly recognised as one of the all time greats.
Although active in the remix world (recent remixes include the likes of Placebo, The Soft Moon and A Place to Bury Strangers), he has only released two artist albums; 1996's Archive One (one of the best techno albums of all time), and Devils Advocate in 2003. The latter's re-interpretation of Bauhaus' "She's in Parties" kick started the electro-rock sound exemplified by the likes of Liars, Crystal Castles and Big Black Delta.
This first album in 14 years spans across many genres but sounds very much like a Dave Clarke record. The spooked-out cinematic electro of opener "Exquisite" and sinister downtempo beat excursion of "Is Vic There?" could happily sit on the last couple of Depeche Mode albums, while "Frisson" is doom-laden, electronic goth music.
This isn't a straightforward techno album by any means. Techno LPs on the whole don't incorporate the paranoia of forgotten 1960s spy flicks ("Dot Forty One"), or ice cold IBM with post-punk basslines ("I'm Not Afraid"), but when The Desecration of Desire does let rip, it's as fierce as hell. "Plasmatik" is a perfect example of how Clarke can make his influences clear, but also mask them under a pounding techno beat - here there's the jacking of '80s Chicago house, the anti establishment attitude of punk in '76 and the cheek of disco, all encapsulated in a track that's dark, dense and designed for people to lose their shit to in a nightclub. As home listening it may prove a bit much, but within the environment it was created to be heard - i.e. a dark sweaty room with strobe lights, dry ice, and a great bit fuck off sound-system - it's perfect.
Just as dark and snarling are a pair of tracks featuring the gravel voice of Mark Lanegan, the best of which, "Charcoal Eyes", is the finest moment on the album. Throbbing techno percussion accompanies a growled spoken word piece from Lanegan who speaks of "Self flagellation by music / the walk of a man needing to grow / I have fucked with the past / now it's time to dance with the future", a declaration which introduces the fiercest electro riff, a simple move which proves to be one of the most thrilling musical pieces released this year.
Considering how this is only his third album in twenty two years, Dave Clarke can hardly be thought of as a generous artist. But when he does release an album, he gifts us a glimpse into his mind as an artist instead of a DJ. He points out the limitation of most other electronic artists. Each of his records could have come from any year from the past twenty five, to the next twenty five. There is the sound of now, the sound of then, and the sound of Dave Clarke.