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(51:26, Progressive Promotion Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. This Dream of Me 5:28 2. All We Are I Am Not 6:35 3. Life Is Strange 7:14 4. On the Day You Leave 6:31 5. Like Any Angel 6:16 6. A Change of Heart 5:21 7. Insomnia 6:48 8. Always Forever 7:13 LINEUP: Thomas Thielen - vocals, instruments Dominik Huttermann - vocals, instruments
Prolusion. German band CLOUDS CAN is a fairly new addition to the progressive rock scene in Germany, albeit one with a history that goes back a couple of decades. The band is a duo, and both members are composers and multi-instrumentalists with established solo careers. "Leave" is their official debut album under the Clouds Can moniker, and was released by German label Progressive Promotion Records in 2017.
Analysis. This band apparently started out back in the 1990's, and recorded a couple of albums, or possibly demos, back then as well. At least they are described as albums by the band, but as no trace of these can be found they when hitting Google I presume they are demos released on CD-R or similar. Either that, or someone somewhere has decided to maintain some very strict control on a lot of CDs. Apart from that, the band's self description is that this is a progressive pop album. I do take the liberty of objecting to that description though, as I do not find this album fitting within a regular pop context at all. When this CD first arrived in my mailbox, I took on my usual routine and gave it an initial listen within one of the first days afterwards. My distinct first impression was that "I didn't know I had received a new album by t." t being the artist moniker of band member Thomas Thielen, for those unaware. While the album as a whole is different from what t has released as a solo artist for the past decade and a bit, there are striking similarities as well. The vocals for starters, as my impression as that Thomas handles a lot of the vocal duties here. And that Dominik, if he does any of the vocals, approach them in a very similar manner to his band mate. The general mood of the songs also have a lot of Thielen's traditional features from his solo albums: The ebb and flow in intensity, seguing from one passage to the next, the ebb and flow of intensity by way of adding and subtracting instrument layers. Fans of t should feel right at home with this album on a number of different levels. That the overall style explored is one hard to pin down another such familiar traits: That this album features a song were delicate jazz elements are added in to the greater context, one were shimmering post-rock instrument motifs dominate and one were harder edged, gritty guitar riffs lead the way indicates just a little bit about what we're dealing with in this particular context. The songs themselves tends to stick around to the various themes and arrangements explored a tad longer than on t's solo albums though, and at least my impression is that they are developed more extensively and more at length. Possibly also that the various themes and sections are more frequently revisited. A more conventional song structure if you like, but still rather far removed from what you'd find in a mainstream oriented pop or rock band. Besides the comparisons above, the music itself is a bit hard to pin down. There are songs here that roughly or broadly might fit into a neo-progressive context for sure, while others have some kind of contemporary symphonic tinge to them, explored in a framework that may or may not initially have started out as more of a pop-oriented creation. There's an example of a ore post-rock oriented affair too, and plenty of examples of Clouds Can alternating between gentle, melancholic passages and harder edged, guitar driven parts. Modern day, contemporary progressive rock is my best shot, presumably one of many minor details the band members may well scoff ever so slightly about.
Conclusion. If you tend to favor artists that explore progressive rock in a manner not too many others do, and has a go at the genre in a contemporary manner, Clouds Can is a good example of just that. That Thomas Thielen makes up half of this band is something those familiar with his solo albums will hear, and chances are good that if you enjoy his solo albums, then the music of this side project will appeal just about as much, even if it is somewhat different in overall scope.
Progmessor: May 26th 2018
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