- Band / Artist Cloudkicker
- Genre Math/Post-Rock
- Label Self-Released
- Year 2012
- Format Album
Cloudkicker is the solo project of Ben Sharp, based out of Ohio, Columbia. Having self-produced his first record “The Discover” back in 2008, Sharp has produced several records, all of them available for "free download" - the joys of creative freedom, eh? Everybody goes home friggin’ happy!
“Fade” combines fuzzy warm tones, slower-time signatures, clean, reverberating guitar layers, and a much audible bass, throughout the album. The production quality of the album’s mix really shines, showcasing the evolution of Sharp’s musical prowess, over the years. There are elements of shoe-gaze in the album which scores some brownie points, making in-depth listening much more enjoyable. The sound can be touted to have similarities to the 90's alternative sound (why do you think the third track is called “Seattle”?), but rest assured it is not just a plain modern age re-telling of some classic 90's elements: It’s Ben Sharp doing his own thing, but in 90's fashion, aforementioned fuzzy tones, eerie sounding riffs in places and audible bass notes, signature odd time-signatures (sounds clichéd, eh?), et al. The bass lines play a far more important part on this record than they did on the predecessors. The run-time of each song is modest and just and what appears all the more pleasant is how the tracks beautifully synch with one another, for example “The Focus” plays like a sequel to album-opener “From The Balcony”. At over 10 minutes of run-time, “Seattle”, the 3rd track on the record is the longest track. With probably the most menacing sounding riff on the album to kick start things, and a faint hint of grunge the track offers a lot, not sounding monotonous even once. “Garage Show” has probably the most memorable intro of them all; with amazing loops layered neatly one atop the other, the track features a minimalistic approach by Sharp, with negligible percussion work; Sharp’s strat seems to be the sole storyteller in this one. “LA After Rain”, the personal favourite out of them all, is a aces in the books of yours truly- The slow delivery of the percussion, the atmospherics, all of it. Just goes to show that your imagination needn’t be wild if you want to paint a picture with a song. Not to mention this track is vaguely reminiscent of “Everything’s Mirrors” from “The Discovery”. “Making Will Mad” is a clear example of Sharp’s maturity in song-writing. The low guitars keep adding a notch in volume and an extra layer as the song progresses. “Our Crazy Night” is as ballad-ish as Cloudkicker can get. A mellow intro, crashing riffs, subtle atmospherics, and what not, make it worthy of a whole lot of repeats until Cloudkicker surprises us with another album. 8th and final crack on the album “Cloud Hidden: Whereabouts Unknown” is a gentle acoustic number and, rounds off a job well done on all things cloudy and kicky.
Cloudkicker seems like a multi-faceted mythical beast that offers nothing but good times. For those, who are scratching your heads clueless, download his entire discography as soon as possible. “The Discovery” has been the basic template for what to expect from a Cloudkicker album, but from then onwards he has gone and set the bar higher and higher with every release, to the extent of re-mastering an entire newly released album just because he wanted to explore familiar territories on some new recording gear. The sound has not deviated much from the origin, but I would be remiss not to point out that the frantic Math Metal frenzy has now given way to a more intimate, sensitive sound texture.
Funny thing with cookies is that they are hidden in the last place you look, and the harder it is to track them down the better is the taste when you bite into one; that is not the case with “Fade”. Ben Sharp has magnanimously strewn treats across the entire album. There are tons of good moments, layers, and dollops of feel good vibe to sink your teeth into. Make no mistake, “Fade” is not only about clean tone, bass heavy, slow-tempo melody (well maybe the slow tempo part is omnipresent); there is ample riffage and the same old charm that old fans are familiar with from “The Discovery” album. The sudden draft from time-signature abusing metal lush, ambient, acoustical pastures seems to have paid off for Ben, since most of his fans have welcomed the latter sound texture on his last album “Let Yourself Be Huge”, and it has won over many new fans as well. The absence of vocals makes the instrumentals more accessible to everyone, more so for the average listener and the newer fans. One can propose with surety that it is this kind of accessibility, devoid of any musical complexity, that makes a record like “Fade” tick. The entire track-list generates a warm, sunny and breezy feel-good vibe that anyone can relate to, and lingers long past the run-time, in your subconscious.
Pros: Pristine, soothing, well-composed tracks.
Cons: Nothing much to put your finger on with this one except that it leaves you hanging in the middle, hungry for more good times.
“Fade” plays like the soundtrack from your favourite movie that you can relate to whenever and wherever, and by “You” I mean each and every one of you. A must have regardless of genre-favouritism. FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, IT’S A FREE DOWNLOAD WHAT MORE COULD YOU POSSIBLY ASK FOR?!
Arkadeep Deb, as of now is a 20 year old engineering student from Kolkata. When he’s not harmlessly trolling around or watching Two and a Half Men re-runs, he dabbles in all-things-Metal, Photography, Songwriting, Reviews, you name it. While building up his chops in guitar/ vocals as we speak, he’s doing his utmost to represent the genre he loves, protesting social-stereotyping and pigeon-holing of its followers and lending a patient ear to the beloved underground. His first tryst with Metal was 5 years ago, when one fateful day he popped a bootleg SLIPKNOT: SUBLIMINAL VERSES and LAMB OF GOD: ASHES OF THE WAKE split-record in the cd-tray. There has been no looking back ever-since.
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