Inspiration happens in a flash. First, there’s nothing; then, boom, something emerges. A basic idea—not quite fully formed, a mere piece in an intricate jigsaw puzzle, but an idea nonetheless—worms its way into your head. That initial creative glimmer can grease the artistic process, hurling a project forward at breakneck speed, or that spark can flutter for a brief moment before being snuffed out. It can be a struggle to reignite the flame.
A new album out this week from Barry Clark, a classically trained musician who creates experimental electronic sounds under the moniker adoptahighway, strives to find the answers to the questions surrounding these epiphanies and subsequent momentum or fallout. A Fault is an eight-song, 29-minute pulsing, dramatic effort that feels like trudging through dark, musky labyrinth, but as depressing and maudlin as that sounds, this record transcends the melancholy. At its core, A Fault is a full-scale journey, one with ups and downs, twists and turns, darkness and light. It’s dour, but intoxicating at the same time. It’s somewhat ironic that the release date came days before Valentine’s Day, since the album feels like something you’d listen to on headphones with the blinds drawn. It’s not something you’d be eager to share with a significant other.
While the tenebrous production on A Fault feels seamless, recording this album wasn’t so easy, Clark admits. There was a nearly two-year gap since his previous output, a two-song 7-inch. Manufacturing the vinyl and an arduous mastering process certainly slowed things down, but finding that initial inspiration and cultivating it from a small idea into a larger concept proved the longer delay in getting this release off the ground.
“It’s strange how it comes in waves,” Clark says of that creative spark, speaking both about his process and the album’s main theme. “Sometimes I’ll be working on the production and I can get it all out in a day or two. And other times I’ll have four bars that I sit on for months. It’s so hard to describe, but as soon as it clicks, it takes off.”
He says he took his time with A Fault because it’s his most personal album to date and he needed to get all the details right.
“I think that’s what went into this record the most—trying to make it truly honest and express a real idea,” he says. “I wanted to be able to detect an actual arc.”
Clark spends time in other musical groups throughout the city—Unrehearsed MKE, Argopelter, various symphonies and chamber ensembles—but adoptahighway remains the closest to his heart. It’s his only outlet for complete self-expression, which can lead him to get internally caught up in his concepts.
“It’s not that I’ve stopped creating because I have a ton of other projects, but as far as adoptahighway goes, I don’t really feel like I can put out anything new until the previous stuff has come out,” Clark says. “It’s almost like a yoke that you’re wearing and you have to take it off to let everyone experience it and then move on. I get stuck in the concept and until that can bloom and be shown to other people, I have a tough time getting away from it.”
For now, the yoke is off.
You can purchase a vinyl copy of A Fault on adoptahighway’s Bandcamp page. Stream the album below.