Cloudland Canyon present their third full-length record, which features combined talents drawn from acts as varied as Big Star, The Flaming Lips, Panther Burns and LCD Soundsystem. Oh and Sonic Boom, also on production duties. An Arabesque is something of a komische / disco blend, a fun and synthy trip. Released by Medical Records.
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- An Arabesque by Cloudland Canyon
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Kosmische dance nerds Cloudland Canyon make a sort of glitch-calibrated krautrock that feels both rigid as fuck and light as clouds. With them, you feel like you could bounce through the sky and jump over hurdles towards the sun. From the off of opener “Where’s the Edge”, the band delve not only into their songcraft but also its perspective: a sturdy drumbeat (more like dreambeat, am I right?) and chiming additives drive the track on and on like your choice psychedelic poison, but the scope of production is such that you hear the band as little more than very enthusiastic silhouettes. As such, this is estranged psychedelia: not because it’s boring, but because you’ll never really know where it’s happening.
I believe they call that... subliminal. I don’t know why exactly I love this record, but it has something to do with its airy, intangible quality. Its taut rhythms feel somehow freed; “Try Faking It”, an early highlight, rigidly sets its keyboards up against the programmed beat of a robot trying to feel love. The vocals cascade and evaporate into whispers like an alternate, less maximalist Sunny Day In Glasgow, and the flatlining beats eventually turn invigorating, like imitation handclaps. Give Cloudland Canyon the time and they’ll turn their robot rock into something more than human.
Tracks like this here title track, “An Arabesque”, are a reminder of the band’s scope -- it keeps its beat skittering in place while meandering a near-ambient melody in and out, as a duet carries the band away into the sunset. It kinda reminds me of Phil Collins doing ‘Both Sides’, trying to write a hook but having all too much of his heart to pour into it. It’s highly strung music made to sound effortless, it’s silly ideas normalised (vocoder meets hand drums meets liquid synth anyone? It’s all yours on “Rebuilding Capture”). And it’s a surprising entry into my “This Is Beautiful” canon of 2016.
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