Cloudland Canyon – Fin Eaves September 7th, 2010 Holy Mountain Score: 8.4
For fear of the great unknown, many of us aspire to frame our lives within habitual contexts, rote locations and faces which generate a misguided notion of control amid rigorous modern life. Coffee and the paper in the morning, a certain lunch at a certain establishment, a recurring television program at night, routine is comforting. It’s also woefully stifling. It perpetuates the daily grind, tightening our manacles and cutting into the stable of sensations at our disposal. Cloudland Canyon has suffered from this self-imposed plight over the past 4 years, penning two snug full-lengths so indebted to experimental German acts of the 70s they’re left feeling too familiar. Mundane. On its third release and first for Holy Mountain, the band ditches its shackles of kraut-inspired song in favor of phenomenally blurry dream-pop. Opener ‘No One Else Around’ sets the stage as silly keyboards are thwarted by a mammoth deluge of fuzz. At the surface, it’s jarring in its density, but when a dip in the water becomes a plunge off a high cliff into the ocean, striking harmonies are uncovered beneath the din — this is a brilliant pop tune navigating through a veritable maelstrom of glimmering noise. Drums are present, they’re just barely heard. The anchor has been claimed by the voracious waves as Cloudland Canyon hasn’t merely let loose on Fin Eaves, it has finally let go. ‘Sister’ and ‘Gracious Hearts’ are equally enthralling in their liberated grainy grandeur, with throbbing bass lines, synth blasts, and multi-tracked vocals populating the clamorous setting, acting as passionate albeit playful calls from the depths. Lightening the sprawl are ‘Mothlight, Pt. 2′ and ‘Hope Sounds Dry’, upbeat numbers which are beachier than they are aquatic. More conventionally rock than their counterparts, they mark a sprightly return to shore, a brief chance to catch our breath before resuming the dive. ‘Pinklike/Version’ then sweeps us to the heart of the album’s torrid gyres, accented by fervent tambourines, drum machine beats, keyboard effects bearing an uncanny resemblance to the merry chirps of birds, and woozy, spectral melodies. With roughly 2 minutes remaining, the track’s fog dissipates to reveal a beaming state of limbo, eerie and exhilarating in its quietude. Kip Uhlhorn’s latest is a remarkable journey, a cohesive suite of underwater pop songs floating in suspended animation as rays of light flicker and frolic overhead. Instead of grounding Fin Eaves‘ flight, the fuzz on hand submerges the album thousands of miles below ground in untapped pools of texture and abandon. Cloudland Canyon’s rigid lifelines have been tossed overboard. Drifting out into a sea of unscripted motion and shapeless majesty, this is going with the flow at long last.