Friday, September 23, 2011

Cloud Cult - Everybody here is a Cloud

“You’ve been spending your time,
Thinking about why you think so much.
If there were ever a time,
Now would be the time
To see your time here is limited.”

I like the Cloud Cult, they are a strange bunch. They have hypnotic songs that focus on very simple patterns of sound, and usually unusual sounds at that. They are somewhat similar to bands like The Polyphonic Spree or... well I cannot think of a second band they are similar too, which kind of emphasis their uniqueness.

I discovered the Cloud Cult while doing my job as a music critic, scouring the internet for songs I had not heard before. They were one of my pleasant surprises, and despite being extraordinarily weird, I have grown very fond of them.

Oh Internet what would we do without you. Well the music in review wouldn’t exist for starters.

The first song I ever heard by the Cloud Cult was “Everybody here is a Cloud,” which I can only assume is their flagship song. Even though I have grown very fond of other tracks of theirs, I think “Everybody Here is a Cloud,” is a good song to focus on, being a flagship song it helps sum up the band in one track.

“Everybody here is a Cloud” is a quirky song by a quirky band, but there is a certain level of depth to the track that I enjoy, especially the line quoted at the beginning of the review. If you fail to understand why a lyric about thinking too much, appeals to me than you have not known me very long and clearly have not read many of these reviews. Beyond that the song does convey something of a cult like message; slivers of philosophical thoughts are mixed in with a sense of union, and of course the cult if all about clouds. It works, it is weird, but it is good.

I am left with a limited amount of things to say about Cloud Cult. They are a strange entity and perhaps listing to “Everybody here is a Cloud,” will go far further to explain them than anything I can say. I wanted to share this band with all of you, because I have idea what to expect from them in the future and I feel it is important to get word out now in the event that things get either too weird or fall apart for The Cloud Cult. Furthermore I like sharing music with people that is off track from our usual expectations and despite the variety of peoples’ tastes that read The Music in Review, none of you might expect The Cloud Cult. That is what makes them so fun.

About half way through this review I realized I have created a “cloud” theme for this month’s pair of music in reviews. While this was not intentional it is pretty cool.

Until next month, keep on rocking in the free world.

- Colin Kelly

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Maybeshewill - He Films the Clouds Part 2

“Now we’re apart,
Though not through choice,
Will we stay mute?
Or raise our voice?”

I’ve been paying particular close attention to the division of labour in music lately; case in point, Maybeshewill. Maybeshewill is a British group that Wikipedia describes as “programmed and sampled electronic elements alongside guitars, bass and drums,” which makes sense... but only to me after a runabout.

When I first heard Maybeshewill they sounded to me as a very electronic oriented rock band, but the more I listened to them, the more I loved the use of piano in some of their songs, most notably in, “He Films the Clouds Part 2.” Then I started thinking, “wow they are not electronic at all, they created all those crazy sounds using a piano and keyboard.” I was really impressed, but upon further study I learned that, the all the piano parts are pre-programmed, which is less impressive. Further disappointment was abounded when I watched a live performance of “He Films the Clouds Part 2,” and realized the woman’s vocals in the song are also pre-programmed, this was not as offensive as learning Louis XIV – “Finding out True Love is Blind,” female vocals are actually just the keyboarder’s singing with extreme distortion, not as disappointing but still lame.

No one in Maybeshewill must be very confident in their singing voices because the majority of their songs do not include vocals at all; they include sound clips from movies. I am not sure how they tiptoe around copyright infringement, but I do enjoy it. Seems like an innovative solution to lacking vocal content to me.

“He Films the Clouds Part 2,” is Maybeshewill’s best song, and I have thus chosen it as this month’s first music in review. I am certain if the band chose too they could bring in a pianist to mimic those sounds perfectly. I am not so fascists that, just because Maybeshewill’s music is made up of manufactured sounds more so than live performances, that I would discarded my positive opinion of them entirely. There is a place in this world for electronic manufactured music; it is just a different genre, one of many, and if treated with the same level of creative care like all music should be, the result will always be great music.

Something I always enjoyed is simple sounds coming together to make something much more. I mentioned it back in November 2010 with Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major, one sound begins, and another joins, than another, and so on. April’s music in review of Interpol – “Not Even Jail,” is another great example of songs like this, and Maybeshewill – “He Films the Clouds Part 2,” yet another. The difficulty in making music like this work is timing, hence the existence of a conductor in orchestras, and hence the use of pre-programming in many modern bands. Several bands now of days loop a basic drum beat and sometimes bass line when recording studio versions of their songs. They do this when no drummer or bass player is in main line up or song writing team. This also further emphasizes the importance of a rhythm section to any band that desires to play live.

I can appreciate that timing is a challenge for a song like “He Films the Clouds Part 2,” there is a high level of sophistication in what is needed, perhaps more so than three man can handle, which is why I believe it is such a good example of appropriate use of pre-programming in music. The greatest skill of all in music is song writing. Whatever a more technically talented bunch of musicians might say about someone like Maybeshewill using electronic assistance, it cannot be denied they have succeed in the most important criteria of all; they have created wonderful and unique music, and I think you will agree. I look forward to hearing what Maybeshewill does in the future.

Until later his month, keep on rocking in the free world.

- Colin Kelly