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Clouds Can: Leave

Recent times have seen the 'P' word thrown around with a carefree abandon, everyone from Steven Wilson to John Mitchell, who we'd usually categorise under the 'P' of prog, exclaiming the virtues of pop music. And there's nothing wrong with that, even if the pop these guys are talking about is a version that's thirty of forty years old now and isn't all that much to do with mainstream chart music at all. The latest to jump aboard this bandwagon are Germans, Clouds Can, an enigmatic two piece comprising Thomas Thielen (known as t and also in the band Scythe) and Dominik H�ttermann (known as Human in the bands Virtual Moon and Imatra). Leave is being viewed as a debut of sorts, but Clouds Cab have been about since the 90s, and as is the fashion, the pair describe their vision as a 'progressive pop project'. And yet, unless you think mid to latter Hogarth era Marillion is pop music, then odds on that's not what you'll believe you've found here either.

And thank goodness for that. Clouds Can is prog, it should be proud to proclaim that it's prog and it should be embraced, whole heartedly, by a large section of the progressive community. That said, and this seems to be central to the thinking here, if you're looking for a million notes a second, seventy minute epics, or tales of fairies, goblins and ghouls, I concede that this album may well Leave you behind. The duo split the workload, both simply credited with 'all instruments' and I believe the singing as handled by both as well. Picking fault with the performances of either is nigh on impossible, while vocally both utilise a lot of similar phrasing and effects you'll find a certain Mr. Hogarth employ. It does really give Leave a very Marillionsy flavour, the ethos of start it small and build it big also pointing things in that direction, although aspects of current Steven Wilson, Frost* and, at times, Katatonia also snag the ear, while the easier lilt of Pink Floyd is also occasionally put in play.

The dreamy, otherworldy "Like Any Angel" is a fine example of Leave at its best, a patient meander through spoken word and ambient noise hastened by the occasional sound of gently tortured guitars and a wash of synths that keep you fully engaged. It takes fully two minutes for the controlled maelstrom to release a synth-string backing and � as is a theme on this album � a restrained but still remarkably busy drum pattern. The vocals then take centre stage, strums of guitar, hums of bass and pinpricks of keyboards merely laying a path for the enigmatic lyrics to take full focus. That too is something that you'll encounter on everything from the melodically explosive "This Dream Of Me" to the deeper and less dazzling "Life Is Strange", complex lyrical themes providing another layer of depth that you might not have expected.

Even with the supposed pop ethos, most of the songs come in at around the 6 or 7 minute mark, most have different moods and sections within them and most are much more complex than initial encounters might well suggest. At times the results can be instant, at times they can be melodic, and at times they can be accessible. However, at no point are you ever really left with a sparkling chorus that won't let you go for days on end, or a three minute blast of hooks or dance-along dynamics. So don't let the erroneous pop tag put you off. If you enjoy the more accessible and immediate end of prog, and can accept that virtuosity, while certainly always in evidence, isn't the driving factor behind what you're listening to, then Clouds Can will be an undoubted pleasure. Leave isn't pop, but it is very good.

Track Listing
1. The Dream Of Me
2. All We Are I Am Not
3. Life Is Strange
4. On The Day You Leave
5. Like Any Angle
6. A Change Of Heart
7. Insomnia
8. Always Forever

Added: May 2nd 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: t online
Hits: 771
Language: english

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