Reviews Cloudkicker Hello



Ohio-based musician Ben Sharp (aka Cloudkicker) has made it clear time and time again that he has no intention on confining himself to something as pedestrian as genre labels. Though it's possible to identify trends (the progressive rock and post-anything labels seem to be fairly common for him), there's absolutely no way to tell where he's going next. That element of predictable unpredictability does little to soften the unexpected nature of his recent single and first release of 2013, Hello.

I'll give away the punchline up front: "Hello" is Sharp's foray into ambient and drone rock. In some ways, this was something of an inevitable exploration for Sharp. To wit, his music has been pretty steadily drifting away from the mathematical slices of metal on The Discovery and Beacons towards the more stripped-down rock and ambiance of Fade and Let Yourself Be Huge. Another recent single of his, "Signal/Noise", hinted at elements of noise rock appearing in his work. Yet even though this is (technically) uncharted territory for Sharp, he pulls it off with aplomb, producing not just a 10-minute peek at where his musical mind is currently located, but a surprisingly relaxing and beautiful piece of music.

The track sounds like Gas 0095 was recorded by Absolutego-era Boris, all propped up by the wall-of-sound composition style that Sharp consistently utilizes. It sounds like listening to an endless recording in deep space, every note becoming imperceptibly slower and deeper as you slowly drift away from the amplification device, eventually reducing itself to a low hum that's interrupted only by the occasional beeping of your suit's life support systems and your phone reminding you that you aren't connected to any network currently. If you'll forgive my glossed-over treatment of how sound actually works in space and my complete inability to write seriously, the metaphor is actually a really apt description for the feelings of isolation and the prospect of distant-yet-futile contact produced by this piece. It doesn't quite reach the sublime level of musical depth like he's achieved before with "Dysphoria" or "Let Yourself Be Huge", but it comes damn close, and for a first swing at the genre, it's fairly respectable.

I'll conclude this brief review with my usual footnote to Cloudkicker releases: like the entire rest of his discography, the album is free to download at his Bandcamp page by a pay-what-you-want scheme. Confusingly, the release is also available in a physical format, but only as a high-quality print of the cover art (which, as you astute readers will no doubt notice, comes without an actual medium for the music). But you also get a free download of the track out of it, so what the hell. The cover art is pretty legit.

6.5 / 10Sarah
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6.5 / 10

6.5 / 10

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