John Clark: ‘CiCaDiA’ – a source for surprise!

John Clark is an American neo-psychedelia artist from Washington Missouri whose music stretches  incorporates many flavors including psychedelic rock, folk, blues, jazz, instrumental, progressive, traditional, bluegrass, Celtic, bossa nova, avant-garde, pop, fusion, world and techno.  John has eight albums out with Peach Moon Publishing Co, including ‘CiCaDiA’. He has performed across the country with various bands and has played at some of the biggest music festivals in the Midwest. One way to think of a shape-shifting creative like John Clark is that his a different artist with each album. Sometimes that’s true in a literal sense.

The hypnotic textures of the songs’ off-kilter campfire melodies are familiar as old friends and nestled into songs that instantly welcome the newly acquainted with their warm organic instrumentation. There is plenty you could debate about ‘CiCaDiA’ but not its impact, as John shares the story of Hoppy and his mystical journey from a Midwestern pasture to CiCaDiA, bug heaven.

It’s as weird an album as any I have heard, but for both its earnest, uninhibited sense of play and the impeccable alt-folk craft that organizes it all, underlying even its most eccentric moments, ‘CiCaDiA’ is also a uniquely affecting one. None of the songs here try to steal attention from each other, they exist democratically and individually each breathing life into itself.

With plenty of acoustic dynamics, lyrical specificity and a strong commitment to atmosphere, John Clark transcends allusions to being simply a hippie noise-maker, while at the same time touching surreal, beautiful places along the way. Above all, in the stunning acoustic guitar ensembles in “The Insect Inside” and “King of Cicadia”, then in the oom-pah-pah beat of “Magic Walking Stick”.

John Clark also seems unafraid to let his songs develop and extend into infinity, as he does on the progressively sprawling arrangements of “Should You Need Us”, “My Heart In You” and “Hoppy’s Song”, which are multi-hued splurges of sound morphing and mixing together without containment.

With every sound molding itself languidly into the mix, oodles of empty space is squeezed out of the sound spectrum. Every moment marks an immediate and new direction, both musically and vocally, and anything seems possible with Clark in control. It’s a fitting pursuit for an artist clearly obsessed with creativity.

‘CiCaDiA’ opens in an ethereal way and then gradually switches into a brighter, buoyant mode that governs much of the rest of the album, to the favor of acoustic anthems and strange sorts of sing-along rhythms that zig and zag while courting abstraction and catchiness with equal zeal. Perfectly describing the sound of John Clark’s musical realm is difficult.

In many ways, he remains a neo-psychedelia student, where everything sonically speaking is processed into a sort of abstract force which often runs like a river towards a waterfall. Everything in Clark’s music, in fact, is a source for surprise. There is no telling what is going to happen from song to song. So the only thing to do is to lie back, burrow down and listen, intently.


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