Sometimes the gig calendar looks bleak for us lowly writers. We look up at the big board on our writer’s floor and there are huge soulless gaps where we have to find things to do like work real jobs or stare long and hard into the void and rethink our life choices as we wile away our time in an archaic building which contains little but the ghosts of a lost industry and really damp paper.
But then, out of nowhere the week comes to an end and it feels like none of us have even left the venue at all, there comes a point where you realise that you’ve spent more time in a dark room full of sweaty, noisy people jeering in front of musicians than you have at any other single place in that week. This was one of those weeks and it was tremendous.
To instigate said week Arbiter Titan burst onto the writer’s floor sometime ago announcing that he had discovered a band called Crack Cloud through a ‘Tumblr’ (I have no idea) service called; Doom & Gloom From The Tomb a music blog that features a Monday Bandcamp discovery service of which was used by our proficient Arbiter to find the band that I’m about to talk about.
We had of course planned on going to this gig some weeks or months ago and decided that a pragmatic notion would be not to book too many gigs throughout the week because of the impending Triptych event that we had also booked tickets for waaaay in advance and were very excited about.
So without further delay, here is the story!
What began as The Arbiter and I travelling over to Bristol in our conventional way to catch a band quickly doubled in size when The Duchess and Attorney Stevios stepped up to the step and stepped out with us to see what was what. It was another of Hy-Brasil’s free gigs to tempt out the music lovers committed enough to experience something on a Monday night (as far as we are concerned all nights are the same regardless of the day!) so far we had caught some real gems at Hy-Brasil including our good friend Jack Cooper and Olden Yolk.
Somehow we managed to cock up the parking and ended up in an expensive underground parking place but given our excitement we didn’t really care. The Arbiter often respects my desire to go in ‘ear blind’ but he did succumb and play me a little Crack Cloud beforehand just to affirm that I would really like them.
First onto the stage this evening was a band called SANS (who we are now assuming are from Bristol because they walked past us yesterday!)
I was already excited because I had caught their soundcheck so when it came time for them to actually let rip I was giddy with anticipation.
What followed was an ear-grabbing cacophony of angst-driven, passionate noise making from the trio with mechanical drums carrying a jarring array of booming and twanging guitars and words that were being hurled at us by an individual who appeared to have succumbed to his own musical makings and allowed his body to be bandied around like some puppet to the noises he was generating. If it’s possible to waterboard someone’s aural glands with golden syrup this would be what it’s like and I’d certainly be signing up for it.
In hindsight they were a brilliant band to open the night with and I hope I see them again and not just in passing, but on an actual stage. I think they’re relatively new as well (from what little research we ever do here) so I’m glad that they had this opportunity, the audience were certainly in the zone with me as I glanced around at the nodding heads and bending knees.
Their set thoroughly warmed my earlobes and provided me with a low-level tinitus that I’ve been able to maintain for the rest of the week. If you get chance to see them, make sure you do it!
Next up were Crack Cloud and first off I was massively impressed that they could even fit all of them onto the stage given that poor old SANS’s’s’sssss bassist had to stand on the actual floor with us peasanty audience members! Somehow the 7-strong outfit managed to squish themselves onto the stage and deliver a gold-bullion performance.
We don’t often like to discuss the appearance of bands because we don’t find its often that relevant but Crack Cloud identify as an Artistic Collaboration so one assumes that the way they look is part and parcel of the artistic image that they convey. In all honesty and like no shortage of groups, bands artists that we’ve seen in the past there’s always that question of ‘I wonder how they met’ sometimes a group looks quite unlikely and it’s intriguing to wonder how they found each other.
What I liked is that they were so wonderfully mismatched you got the impression that the only thing they cared about was the sound, like nothing else mattered as long as the right pieces were there. I think this is the notion that I like the most because it ties in with our ethos that the sound of a band takes precedent over everything else. I mean, sure you can adopt personas and looks and characters on stage but no one is going to buy your album based on appearance.
There was a feeling of absolute androgyny as well, highlighted by choice haircuts and a variation of outfits that all bore the name of the band and so tied in each member despite any other differences. It was like you had seven people on stage doing very different things with different instruments but by sheer fluke because of their obscure effort at a uniform it all tied in together.
The accents of all sung words were completely universal and impossible to place, I never would have guessed that the band are from Canada but at the same time I couldn’t begin to figure out where they were from, yet another unusual ability that pushes the listener further and further to the sound and nothing else.
So let us speak of this sound, of this immaculate, simplistic, intricate take on post-punk with a flavouring of arthouse (check out their videos) all emerging as one final product ‘Crack Cloud‘.
They certainly encapsulated no shortage of bands that I love, including and not limited to; Wire, Devo, Television, Stump, Joy Division with a pinch of Dexy’s protruding through now and then. Let me emphasise ‘encapsulated’ and not copying or mimicking. This was the perfect example of how you can take fragments of existing ideas and expand on them and meld them together with your own methods to create something new and fantastic whilst always alluding back to those initial influences. This happens all of the time but it’s the end result that really matters.
The way I see it, each member who makes up the ‘Crack Cloud’ collaborative is bringing forward their idea, concept or notion of anti-establishment. Their gripes and issues with the modern world are being re-purposed into something creative and unique that not only sheds light on the issues but also entertains, this is a crucial and fundamental part of music and when it’s done so absolutely perfectly right as with Crack Cloud you can’t help but get completely behind it and offer all you have to help sustain it.
Crack Cloud are not afraid to explore the spectrum of sounds that they reside in to its full extent with perfectly timed nuances arising from all aspects of the group. Again there were times when each member was creating a fraction of the sound, maybe a sparse few notes repeating on a guitar, or an understating drone from a synth-key, all these small and innocuous sounds were meeting in the middle and giving us something enormous to explore and play around in. At times some of the tracks had so much space between the actual music creating this idea of vastness and isolation, then and for me most notably with the track Swish Swash (last track played, last track on the album) all of these separate entities would build and build, not necessarily in complexity but in volume and size, I don’t know how that works but the track was getting bigger and bigger even though everyone seemed to be doing the same thing throughout, then you suddenly realise that they’re not… that they ARE building it but because they’ve taken their time and done it with precision and patience you don’t realise it’s happening, like a cliff being eroded by the sea, it’s not until the caravan falls off that you realise it’s happening!
Even the Shoracle’s vision that ‘this is the year of the saxophone’ applies as they managed to fit in some beautifully placed sqwonks and squees during one of the tracks! This made us very happy.
At the end of the night I picked up a copy of their ‘album’ which is in fact the first two EPs on vinyl and it’s outstanding. I’ve owned it less than week and I’ve listened to it at least a dozen times, it’s truly magnificent, hugely fresh, exceptionally well put together and just beautiful to listen to.
The band are now performing their European tour so if you get chance to attend any of the dates we strongly advise it, meanwhile we shall be feeling vaguely smug about seeing their first UK performance of all time. Not only were both bands exceptional but they fitted in very well with everything that followed during the week… more of that to come, so in the meantime enjoy watching these guys: