on 5 June 2013
The first time I ever heard Cloud Boat was 2 years ago when they were the support act for James Blake. And ever since seeing them live I have 'watched the space', waiting patiently for their debut album. And now that it's out, I couldn't be happier with the result.
The album's dreamy, eery, soft sound is much lighter compared to James Blake's, and a couple tracks immediately stand out for me. "Godhead" and "Dréan", being the most gripping, stand out for their gentle, acoustic sound and for being the vocally best songs on Book of Hours.
"Bastion" also stand out for me as it starts very calm and gentle, much like "Dréan" and "Godhead". But it then switches up into a fantastic mix vocal sample, Guitar riffs and heavy drumline. "You Find Me" is also one of the best songs on the album, in my opinion, but is criminally short.
And finally, album closer, "Kowloon Bridge" which reminds me a lot of "After the Storm" by Mumford & Sons (Ironically, the last track on their debut album Sigh No More).
The only bad point on the album for me is "Amber Road", which sort of sounds like James Blake's "Not Long Now" on a bad acid trip. Not saying that "Amber Road" is bad, but its much darker and more 'dubsteppy' sounding than the rest of the album. Making it stick out like a sore thumb the same way "Wild for the Night" did on A$AP Rocky's Long.Live.A$AP.
Overall, this album is fantastically produced, written and performed. I definitely recommned it to anyone who is a fan of James Blake or have heard some of Cloud Boat's stuff. I am now a fully devoted fan of Cloud Boat and hope they achieve higher levels of success and gain more recognition for their sound.
on 3 June 2013
Sad-brand post-dubstep, aka blubstep, figurehead James Blake has his moments, but - to these ears - suffers a little when it comes to quality control. No such problems for his childhood friends Sam Ricketts and Tom Clarke, because their Book Of Hours is a real high-water mark for the miasmic and diverse genre.
Book Of Hours is also a very subtle collection where a finely worked balance between quite varied influence and super minimal delivery exists. For example, "Youthern" - which at another point in history may have been dubbed folktronica - opens with a fireside a cappella harmony before skeletal percussion and a sub-60 bpm crunch roll in. Already plenty to handle, Ricketts and Clarke then get free and easy with slo-mo vocal effects and a kinda classical post-rock shimmer. In "Wanderlust", the pair play off Clarke's hymnal cooing against a crystalline beat and those ultra-reverbed guitar echoes as used by Forest Swords - these same textures reappearing to hang suspension-like in "Pink Grin II", which in turn builds to a snare-driven step and haunting crescendo.
Where Book Of Hours really comes into its own though is when its sense of absence is allowed to dominate. The infinitely fragile tear-jerker "Dréan", for example, combines Clarke's barely there falsetto, which brings the spectral soul of How To Dress Well to mind, with a line of tender attic-core acoustics. Little more than a heavily distorted vocal, "You Find Me" floats on by extension in oceans of atmospheric space.
Of course Ricketts and Clarke are not the only ones in this market at the moment. Their deconstructed R&B jam "Bastion" could have featured on, say, the recent Majical Cloudz LP with few spotting anything was awry. The duo know their history too as album opener "Lions On The Beach" leans on the sort of glitchy step that Radiohead and Fourtet popularised over a decade ago, a whole album of which would have been derivative, but beset here with typewriter strokes and ticking clocks it becomes just one more compositional string to the Cloud Boat bow. So too the eerie "Amber Road", which fights with dissonant Tesla coil surges, coming away bloodied but victorious - a rare moment of violence in one of 2013's most blissful albums to date.
Advised downloads: "Youthern" and "Pink Grin II"
on 24 June 2013
This album is the best thing i bought all year. Somehow, Cloud Boat gets right in your veins with their chilling sounds. 'Book of Hours' presents the perfect combination of melodic folk sounds and deep electronic music. I'm not a bic electronic music fan but Cloud Boat really spoke to me. These guys are a must have for any educated music collection. Big big thumbs up!
on 12 October 2014
Not as accessible as their second album, Model Of You. It takes a few more listens through before tracks start becoming implanted in your head. Still a great album. Favourite tracks include, Godhead, You Find Me, Drean.