Todd Tamanend Clark was born on August 10, 1952 in Greensboro, Pennsylvania, and is of Onodowaga-Lenape descent. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Slippery Rock University and a Master of Arts in Professional Growth from Indiana University. He is the author of four books of poetry including the forthcoming "Dark Thunder" and is also a long-time civil rights activist with the American Indian Movement and various other indigenous organizations.
Clark is an accomplished avant-garde composer whose first recording was released in 1975. He is a versatile multi-instrumentalist who plays synthesizer, sampler, theremin, vocoder, electric guitar, native flute, ocarina, and both electronic and acoustic percussion, as well as vocalizing in a deep and expressive Morrisonian baritone. His six children participate in many of his projects, including keyboardist X Tecumseh Clark and guitarist Sachem Orenda Clark, who have solo careers as well. Previous collaborators include Cheetah Chrome, Chuck Moses, Cornsmoke, Crystal Castles, Dorothy Moskowitz, Iggy Pop, Pere Ubu, Steven Johnson Leyba, The Residents, and William Burroughs. Clark's older vinyl releases of psychedelic proto-industrial rock from the 1970s and 1980s are highly sought after gems at collectible record conventions, often commanding up to several hundred dollars per copy.
The album "Owls In Obsidian" is a thirteen song cycle based on various autochthonal spiritual concepts from the North American continent. These compositions combine to form a sixty-nine minute dark symphony for futuristic electronic orchestra. This edition has been remixed and remastered in 2012 from the original 2000 recording and has greatly improved audio fidelity.
The opening cut "Ah Pukuh" is an industrial death metal portrait of the Maya deity of demise who rules the ninth and lowest level of the underworld and who is frequently surrounded by owls. The harmonic structure includes tritone intervals that were later banned by the invading conquistadors as demonic.
"Tezcatlipoca" is a jazz fusion number dedicated to the Toltec cultural antagonist who was both the bringer of obsidianesque darkness and the originator of music.
"Tlacatecolotl" is a sound collage named for a cult of Aztec sorcerers who could transform themselves into owls.
"Mongwu", in honor of the Hopi owl kachina, consists of two separate left channel/right channel compositions played simultaneously to symbolize the twilight opening between worlds.
"Owl-Man Giant" is an Apache monster represented by a twelve-string guitar played in a complex avant-garde manner over a series of harsh electronic loops.
"Tseguksk" is the multi-midi thirteen synthesizer free jazz audio description of a Tsimshian shaman who transformed into an owl when he died.
"Hihankara" is a neoclassical composition for theremin, strings, woodwinds, and tribal percussion that tells the story of an elderly Lakota owl woman who guards the entrance to the Milky Way and only lets those spirits pass over who display a special tatoo.
"Ohohwa" is the Seneca word for owl and uses wild slide guitar cacophony to convey the bird's nocturnal adventures.
"Gokhos" is the Lenape word for owl and uses theremin, synthesizer, and seven-string guitar to great effect over multi-layered hand drums.
"Miyathwe" is a spooky soundscape based on a Shawnee legend in which an owl creature shoots fiery arrows across the sky.
"Wahuhu" is the Cherokee word for owl and utilizes electronically processed bass guitar and analog synthesizer to create a hypnotic musical journey. (This song was used in a theater production in San Francisco in 2004 by Dorothy Moskowitz, who is now a music professor but was formerly the vocalist for the cutting edge 1968 band The United States Of America.)
"Mucaro" is the Taino word for owl and uses a whole wall of midi synthesizers recorded in real time over throbbing tribal percussion.
The concluding number "Obsidian Variations" is a complex maze of electronic guitars layered over a sequence of precolumbian mathematically calculated serial arpeggios and shifting time signatures.