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Codes In The CLouds are an instrumental 5-piece apparently from Dartford, but I’m just going to say London because they seem to spend more time here than there. They are signed to brilliant little label Erased Tapes, also home to the British Expeditionary Force, Olafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm. They haven’t been around for long but have definitely made their presence known on the London scene, and, maybe to a lesser extent, on the entire UK scene. Following the release of their first record they toured with now post-rock legends This Will Destroy You and recently went on a small headline tour through the UK with Barn Owl and Katerwaul (worth checking out!).
‘Paper Canyon’ is their debut full-length album and despite coming across as a little easy at first, this record soon becomes a brilliantly subtle delight, going from bright uplifting songs to dreamy ambient numbers, to others filled with a deep sense of lament. It is so easy and common for post-rock bands to makes 2-dimensional records, only expressing the teenage-like solitude and angst part of the spectrum of human emotions. However, after seeing them live on many occasions, Codes In The Clouds stand out from the crowd of post-rockers as a band who express that but also happiness, hope and above all sincerity. It is when you realise that Paper Canyon does in fact have these powerful highs and lows that the record begins to make sense and the subtle authenticity within it comes out and sucks you back in along for the ride.
The opening track ‘Fractures’ sets the scene for a pleasant, dreamy frame of mind, then ‘Don’t Go Awash In This Digital Landscape’ hits with a relentless force, which carries on through until the epic finale of ‘Distant Street Lights’. ‘We Anchor In Hope’ is a charming uplifting waltz perfectly suited to the aftermath of the previous songs and ‘The Distance Between Us’ closes the album on a very powerful, hesitant, yet positive note.
Although it may seem like an obvious thing, the statement on their myspace that says ‘we like playing pretty music’ is strangely exact, and completely sums them up once you’ve fully absorbed the record.
Their eagerly anticipated follow up LP should be out by the end of this year so keep a look out and make sure you catch them live if they play in a town near you.
Although my interest in and appreciation of ambient music rarely goes beyond the genius of Eno and Stars Of The Lid, Dunn’s work captures a similar essence and provides a magical sonic space ideal for reflection and immersion. His most recent release: A Young Person’s Guide To Kyle Bobby Dunn (AYPGKBD) is extremely minimal and may not suit people who aren’t fans of the genre already, but serves as a great platform for those of you looking to explore it.
As a piece of sonic landscape or sound design, AYPGKBD is wonderfully put together merging many different textures which glide steadily and infinitely in the realms of abstraction. If it catches you in the right frame of mind, it carries you straight off into a world of your own making 2 hours seem like 2 minutes. Before you know it you’ll be putting the album back to the beginning for further introspection.
Dunn leads to believe that people who say that you can’t be in more than one place at a time, are wrong.
Sam Thomas is a London based composer and multi-instrumentalist whose music blends influences from classical music, rock, folk and no doubt many more. This extremely interesting piece, not so interestingly named Continuous Soundtrack, is a 27 minute long epic which progresses from heart-wrenching orchestral sections, to head-stomping rock riffs, to cheesy folk ballads and I could go on. It presents musical themes and shapes that perpetually evolve quite dramatically to incorporate numerous instruments and contrasting feels. I think this is as cinematic as it gets, being completely instrumental, it takes its listener on a surprising and grand journey.
The level of skill involved in conceiving a piece like this is quite unthinkable for one person, but Sam Thomas has done it, and to an excellent standard. It may not be to everybody’s liking due to its somewhat experimental nature, but for dreamers, musicians and prog (in it’s broader sense) enthusiasts it is an experience like few others.
Although Sam’s influences may be obvious at times, they are so diverse that when stuck together back-to-back like this, they make for one huge adventure that feels like experiencing all musical development from Debussy right through to today’s Mono via The Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Radiohead and Muse. I am aware of how bold this statement sounds but if you locked them all up in a studio and told them to write a 27 minute instrumental track, it wouldn’t be a million miles away from this. Every part when listened to, sounds as complex and thought-out as the next. The guitar takes off on rampant solos, the bass grooves away, the drums mix things up by changing and crossing time signatures, and the violin will make you cry.
What’s more, the production on this piece is stunning considering how many different layers there are. The distorted bass sound is fat to the point of making your face scrunch up, and the violin, once again, will make you cry. About two thirds of the way in, the track also goes into an peculiar psychedelic section with unusual percussions and bass harmonics, brilliantly panned and produced to make even the sanest person feel a bit mad. Finally, the guitar probably being the central instrument, presents various well-manipulated sounds (although one in particular is ridiculous). Overall it’s fair to say this is an opus worthy of any contemporary composer/producer/musician.
If you’re intrigued and willing to put on a pair of headphones for half an hour, you can download Continuous Soundtrack for FREE (oh yes!) at samthomasmusic.com – and needless to say, I recommend it.
For the sake of giving him a bit of press, I’m told that this piece is part of his plan to promote himself as a composer for film and TV. Basically, anyone is welcome to use it as a score, free of royalty obligation. The only condition is to credit him clearly… sounds like a bargain.
WALL OF SOUND is the club night I’m organising based around the music I talk about on this blog, the opening night will be in one of London’s many music venues, and in April so plenty of time, but things are coming together nicely- got some great bands lined up and a great team helping me to make it a success. Check for details/updates and sign up to the mailing list on the WALL OF SOUND page! Hope to see as many of you there as possible!