Cloudland Canyon – Silver Tongued Sisyphus (Kranky
Records 2007, krank111)
Cloudland Canyon/Lichens – Exterminating Angel (Holy Mountain 2007, HOLY051963)
From Aural Innovations #38 (Jan 2008)
Cloudland Canyon’s debut album, Requiems der Natur 2002-2004 was a beautifully hazy affair, sonic antiques discovered in lost dreams viewed through gauzy curtains. For their latest efforts, the EP Silver Tongued Sisyphus, and the collaborative Exterminating Angel, the duo dusts off their sound, and pulls back the curtains for some more focussed efforts, embracing their Krautrock leanings even more so on these outings.
Silver Tongued Sisyphus consists of two 10+ minute pieces, two pieces of a puzzle, two contrasting angles to Cloudland Canyon’s sound. Dambala begins with a slowly developing ambient soundscape, rich and eerie in tone, full of twittering noises and murky soundshapes, out of which evolves a piano and synth bass sequence, filled with blissful electronic notes and washes that flow around the rhythm for a warm and bright finish. It’s reminiscent in some ways of those Tangerine Dream epics of the mid-70’s. But it’s the title track that takes Cloudland Canyon in whole new musical directions. It begins with quiet ambient notes, but quickly evolves into a spacey, textural rocker of crashing drums, freaked out, sizzling guitars, spacey, swirling synths and minimalist, chant-like vocals. It’s a superb effort for fans of Krautrock styled music, and one almost wishes Silver-Tongued Sisyphus had been a full-length album, but at over half an hour of great music, it definitely satisfies, especially when paired up with their other release of this past year, Exterminating Angel.
A collaboration with Chicago based drone/experimental folk artist Robert Lowe, who records under the name of Lichens, Exterminating Angel consists of one half hour long piece of music that shifts and flows seamlessly through numerous phases. From fogbound passages of atmospheric sounds layered with gentle shimmering sheets of guitar noise to pulsing, electronic soundscapes with rich, organic sequences to haunting Berlin school minimalist electronic rhythms, this piece has a bit of everything. But it all flows so easily and naturally from one section the next that it works beautifully as a whole, a musical journey through numerous dimensions of thought and feeling.
As I mentioned, these two releases make wonderful companion pieces to each other, but each also stands alone as yet another unique chapter in the Cloudland Canyon story as well as another exciting chapter in the Lichens story.
For more information on Cloudland Canyon, visit: http://myspace.com/cloudlandcanyon or http://www.cloudland-canyon.com/
For more information on Lichens and Exterminating Angel, visit: http://www.kranky.net/artists/lichens.html and http://www.holymountain.com/lichens.html
Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald