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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cloudkicker - Beacons review

Year : 2010
Genre : Progressive Geek Djent Metal
Label : Independent
Origin : United States
Rating : 8.5 / 10

Cloudkicker is the one man band music project of Ben Sharp from Columbus, Ohio. While consensus seems to classify Ben's material as progressive math metal, though that might be true in some or all sense with his other releases, his 2010 offering "Beacons" seems to exhibit the characteristics of Meshuggah influenced djent with a more pseudo-melodic and introverted character than what the forefathers of oddly executed grouchy-rawmeat silence-mangling are renowned and notorious for. The term "pseudo-melodic" needs justification, and hereby I seek to administer that right away. If you listen to this disc, - which is not a bad idea if you want to know more about it at the first place - it seems to be easy to identify the compositional techniques Ben is most comfortable to utilize and rely on, and those methodologies are the ones that seem to be much more interested in the enigma of the rhythm, of the pulse, than in the actual anatomy of a melody. Read on to find out more about this LP.

The character similarities with Meshuggah are primarily revolving around the drum work, as it sounds to me that Cloudkicker is very interested in Tom Haake's approach to drumming. Indeed, these most often mid-tempo rhythmic oddities are autonomous peeks unto a body of fresh music that to this day is super-exciting to see, let alone touch, so it is just highly sane behavior from any artist to notice with grace the goodies findable at the direction these Swedish guys are relentlessly pointing towards. A funny thing with this shape of music is that the intricately warped mid-tempo drum patterns are practically BEGGING to be complimented by sonic entities with pitch values and timber to them, and, once you start to serve such elements to border an exotic drum loop with, then the magic won't be too hesitant - if at all - to grace consensus. I personally think that this is the "mere magic" of Meshuggah's craft. This form of music is so uncompromisingly and elementary visceral in character, and so free of need to rely on melody with the rhythmic oddity it reeks, that the mere mass of immense sound bending to the will and command of warped rhythm becomes the exquisite attraction, and it is more than sufficient once the intent is to entertain with sounds.

After hearing his music, I have very little doubt that Ben Sharp shares at least parts of the above sentiments, as the Beacons LP is a pronounced worship of the Meshuggah character of sonic warfare, yet, as hinted previously, the absence of the vocals is filled by an intent to deliver layers and layers of pseudo-melodies to praise the capricious beauty of the rhythm amidst. Cloudkicker's Beacon LP, sounds to me, is all about the propensity to experiment with muscular squads of - primarily - guitar sounds, as Ben Sharp takes convincingly psyched-out exotic drum patterns to build layers of sonic entities around - with the not at all concealed hopes of HIM getting surprised by the results, along with you. The primer dosage of this LP - about 85% of it, I'd say - is relentless, guitar centered mid-tempo warfare, in which the momentary environment of sounds you find yourself in - audio environments composed of excessive dosages of sonic entities parked in them - is much more important than such a casual question as where this music is actually going to and what it wants to do. It does not matter at all. It reigns in no hurry to get to anywhere and it does not give a shit to, either. The destination is not important, the journey, on the other hand : is. Aaaaah! Now I'm REALLY getting in, Sensei!

Sure, this is a very humane and likable/adorable method to build music by, and its only hindrance is that sometimes it takes tremendous amount of work to sculpt out a pattern to admit that what you have "just" built - in the past 24 hours - sucks crimson Godzilla dick, and the emotional result it can convey in a second observer is not necessarily of as robust content-power as the artist seeks to convince the listener of.

Though I like this record, what prevents it from hitting into above 9.0 ratings here on Noise Shaft, is its reoccurring desperate tendency to claim hysterical justification to less appealing patterns of organized chaos by iterating them until you can't help but see if your player got caught in a 5 seconds loop, or you might as well submit to the occasional semi-clueless eagerness of this LP and watch your mind being beaten to a green jelly by the clumsy rubber hammers it is armed with by those moments. I feel less focus on this release than on this. Other than that, an enjoyable pseudo-melodic progressive djent ride with a relatively restrained-, introverted character. The progressive geek djent album of Leonard Hofstadter, you know?

Rating : 8.5 / 10

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