It’s almost to vague to identify. Almost apparitional and hard to name – in the way British electronica duo CLOUD BOAT presents the artwork for their debut longplayer Book of Hours, you can almost spot the obvious metaphor for their songs. Sam Ricketts and Tom Clarke love the indefinite and reduced aspect of music, this is for sure. Book Of Hours is a fascinating debut record that invites the listener to discover spaces in the unknown and simple structures of CLOUD BOAT. Quite a joyful and eclectic experience.
It’s really kind of hard to describe what you will find on this record. Dodgy and clicking electronica with post-dubstep-character in the tradition of BURIAL or MOUNT KIMBIE. But these soundscapes team up with classical acoustic songwriting and the tender soulful vocals of Tom Clarke which might resemble JAMES BLAKE in a certain way. But this comparison could be too simple. CLOUD BOAT unfold a way more organic basis to their experimental electronica. While the instrumental Lions On The Beach doesn’t feel that way, the following Youthern gives a clue of how these two musicians combine past and future into something quite special. “I’ve never felt love, ’cause of the state of us / Come down with us, come down with us” claims Clarke in this dark and intimate piece of blues material. A song that unfolds almost like a gospel prayer and you might already sense it – this is not just some high quality hyped hipster electronic, this is something quite solid and honest.
“Death is coming, rides into town on a horse” – the almost acoustic-sounding Dréan leads us deeper into darkness and desperation. The upcoming instrumental Amber Road unfolds its morbid mood in an even more hopeless way. And the question slowly arises – will we ever find the light again? CLOUD BOAT don’t want to give you the answer, they just want to join you on this journey into the unknown. The short You Find Me acts like an interlude in form of an autotune prayer. But, well, there is not much relief on the horizon. “You won’t find home again, my son / You’re forever lost, you know” are the opening words of the hypnotic Wanderlust. We’re clearly lost by now – in the words, sounds and structures of this record.
The question is not really if we want to get out of this darkness. Maybe you don’t need to since CLOUD BOAT manage to create such a fantastic atmosphere with their indefinite record. It’s hard to describe, hard to label and maybe hard to understand after first listening to it. But, believe it or not – Book Of Hours will pay off. When the final track Kowloon Bridge – a truly beautiful guitar ballad – hushes it feels like you’ve been back from a trip into something special. And in some way, you feel a certain amount of relief in the way CLOUD BOAT and their record comfort you in the twists and turns of darkness. And this is just another surprising effect of a very surprising and truly masterpiece-like debut record.