Anne Clark was born in Croydon, South London on May 14, 1960. She left school at age 16, with the statement that school wasn't teaching her anything she couldn't find out by reading. Then she went to work in a psychiatric hospital. Her connections and occasional work at Croydon's independent record label and shop Bonaparte's, along with a healthy amount of DIY activism inspired by the growing punk movement, led her to organize a weekly New Wave night at the nearby Warehouse Theatre. Around the same time, she was also working as an editor for Paul Weller's "Riot Stories" publishing company, which was dedicated to publishing unknown artists' work. She was also writing for television and hanging out with people like Dominic Appleton and David Harrow, with whom she would co-write several albums.
And then came her own music. Dark, intimate impressionistic poetry about loneliness, futility and lack of meaning. Songs about the reincarnation of trees and the distance of lovers. Invocations of exact moments, moments that hurt. Moments that make you cry. She wasn't Gothic, and she wasn't what we usually thought of as New Wave - she wasn't anything really, not anything you could define. She seemed to have blended the cold, electronic beat of New Wave music with the subject matter of the Goths and the anti-establishment sensibilities of punk.
Falling and calling
Falling and crawling
A stick in the ground scratches your name
A scream in the darkness is searching again and again
Watching eyes wait for sadness to rise
True superstitions combine and thicken...
- "Killing Time"
More successful in Norway and Israel than in her native UK, and virtually unknown in America, Anne Clark defies every effort to categorize her. Her first public concert was with Depeche Mode, and her early work resembles theirs not a little, with primitive keyboard work and slightly cheesy drum machines straining to produce music despite the limits of the technology. Frankly, it sounded like it had been recorded in her bedroom. But while her music at this point was simple and rather amateurish, her lyrics were in another realm altogether. And by the mid-Eighties, the music would catch up with the lyrics, developing driving beats and swirling melodies that would become an inspiration for the next generation of electronic artists. Later, she continued to jump categories, developing a more natural sound with acoustic piano work and classical influences.
Unfortunately, it seemed like something never quite clicked for Anne, and she never quite turned into a household name or even a well-known weirdo. It may have been the fact that she couldn't be pigeonholed, or the rocky relationships she has had with every major record label that signed her. Or, as I prefer to think, she made her own decision to keep a low profile, treating the music and the poetry as pure art instead of a career, and has simply devoted herself to other projects and new art forms for the last few years.
There's a sleeper in Metropolis;
you are insignificant.
Dreams become entangled in the system, environment moves over the sleeper -
conditioned air, conditioned, sedated breathing,
the sensation of viscose sheets on naked flesh, soft and warm
but loathsome in the blackened ocean of Night.
confined in the helpless safety of desires and dreams, we fight our insignificance
the harder we fight, the higher the wall...
- "Sleeper in Metropolis"
(This may be incomplete, some of her work is very hard to track down.)
- The Sitting Room, 1982
- Changing Places, 1983 (co-written with David Harrow - although there are no clear credits that I can find, it seems like Harrow wrote most of the music. As far as I can tell, the lyrics are all Anne's. This seems to be how she did most of her work. Some of the songs are co-written by Anne and Vini Reilly of Durutti Column)
- Joined Up Writing, 1985 (also with David Harrow and Virginia Astley)
- Pressure Points, 1985 (with John Foxx of Ultravox)
- Hopeless Cases, 1987 (David Harrow again, and some material written with Charlie Morgan.)
- RSVP, 1988 (live recording from Utrecht's Music Spectrum, this is probably her single most accessible album. All music is played by a band, instead of Anne trying to reproduce her own studio work. Brilliant.)
- Unstill Life, 1991 (more work with Charlie Morgan, Tov Ramstaad and Ida Baalsrud.)
- The Law is an Anagram of Wealth, 1993
- Psychometry, 1994 (another live album, this one entirely acoustic. A radically different Anne Clark.)
- To Love and be Loved, 1995 (produced by Friedrich Thein, who recorded the Psychometry concert.)
- Wordprocessing, 1997 (this is a collection of remixes by electronica artists like Mouse on Mars and Juno Reactor. Almost a tribute album, so extreme are the changes wrought by the mixers.)
Remember me for what I was as one world breaks in two.
I'll follow my own instincts, I'll forge another path.
Remember me for what I was, not what I could have been.
Remember me for what I was, and shall never be again.