Cloudkicker
Beacons


4.5
superb

Review

by Rob Heald USER (6 Reviews)
September 17th, 2010 | 243 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: In releasing an LP and three excellent EPs in just two years, Cloudkicker has progressed from a melodic, instrumental Meshuggah to something entirely unique and remarkably evocative.

Cloudkicker has quickly established quite a discography for itself, the kind of pacing that can be attributed in part to advancements in recording technology that allow for the production in a quickly and seemingly effortless manner. Sole member Ben Sharp has stated numerous times that music is his favorite hobby, not his job, and he simply enjoys writing and recording. Recording technology and intentions aside, Sharp is writing fantastic material at a level nothing short of prolific. He’s progressed with each release, adding more elements to keep from sounding like he’s just executing a formula...a fault of many math metal projects. In releasing an LP and three excellent EPs in just two years, Cloudkicker has progressed from a melodic, instrumental Meshuggah to something entirely unique and remarkably evocative.

Now with their (his) first LP since debut album ‘The Discovery’, Cloudkicker has clearly grown from hobby to an expression of artistic ambition. The ability to buy hard copies, pay what you wish, and pre-release previews seem to indicate that Cloudkicker has risen beyond what it has been before...something very exciting for fans of rhythmic, math-based metal. I can’t speak at all for Sharp’s mindset when writing this, but ‘Beacons’ feels thoughtful, approached, and solemn in a way its predecessors completely lacked. No longer do songs feel like just an experiment to work out a particular concept, they’re part of a whole album that work in concert to create an emotionally gripping 45 minute experience.

A unifying theme, that of a fighter or bomber going down, is the perfect concept for an instrumental album: vague enough to create without lyrics, but specific enough for the audience to relate to. Album opener “We are going to invert...” is just a loop repeated several times before heading into the incendiary “Here, wait a minute! Damn it!”. Still not a full song, but an excellent preview for what follows. It isn’t until the third track on the album, “We’re goin’ in. We’re going down.”, that we hear a track with a full structure. The main riff is an excellent mixture of technicality, optimism, with a small aspect of melancholic grandeur. The song fits the narrative arc, and is an absolute album highlight.

The clear separation between ‘Beacons’ and previous Cloudkicker releases is outlined in tracks like “I admit it now. I was scared” and “...it’s just wide-open field.” They’re both a departure from the heavy, rhythmic bashing that by now, we’re sort of accustomed to, and could easily be a track from Explosions in the Sky or Oceansize. They’re beautiful, well-timed, and help to complete an album that would otherwise be filled with reiterations of the same ideas. The narrative arc reaches its peak in “It’s bad. We’re hit, man, we are hit.”, and is the start of an incredible 15 minutes of music to close the album. “Untitled” is the most effective song on the album, as it is completely different to anything we’ve heard before. A single guitar reflecting on the events preceding until growing into something more ominous, it hits home and is perhaps the most resounding indication that this album means more than just a hobby.

Listening to the whole of ‘Beacons’ gives me a feeling not unlike Porcupine Tree’s ‘The Incident’. Individually, the songs are wonderful on their own, but when listening to the album straight through... they add up exponentially beyond just the sum of their parts. However easy it is for Ben Sharp to write and record this stuff (and he really does make it seem easy), it’s this strong album experience that makes this so listenable. Due to the instrumental nature, it’s easy to visualize the story as it unfolds...making it a personal and emotional experience. Whether this signals a paradigm shift for Cloudkicker or is just a fortunate aberration, it remains a resonant experience that shows the kind of musical force Ben Sharp is becoming.



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user ratings (637)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
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climactic (4.5)
Cloudkicker decides that our advice wasn't critical enough and creates an album fixing almost all of...


Comments:Add a Comment 
MorningView425
September 17th 2010


162 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album available at name your own price. If you're wary, download for free...but I encourage you to throw some money at him.

http://cloudkicker.bandcamp.com/

MO
September 17th 2010


18680 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is an incredible album. Right up there with The Discovery.

Scoot
September 17th 2010


17752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Fucking AMAZING

crowing51
September 17th 2010


3453 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I fucking love this cd, their best work.

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

MorningView425
September 17th 2010


162 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i'm waiting for these guys to take off on here...i feel like this is exactly the type of stuff sputnik goes apeshit for.

Scoot
September 17th 2010


17752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Nobody knows about him...it's only one guy.

MorningView425
September 17th 2010


162 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

true, but it sure as hell doesn't sound like it.

Scoot
September 17th 2010


17752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Nope, it doesn't. Ben Sharp's probably the most underrated artist on this site.

climactic
September 17th 2010


18935 Comments


Downloading this now

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
September 17th 2010


18476 Comments


Love Cloudkicker, and i'm glad to see this rules. Getting now, have a pos.

Digging: Recondite - Caldera/DRGN 2

crowing51
September 17th 2010


3453 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Man i wish he would get some guys together and tour, i would love to see them live.

GibTG
September 20th 2010


279 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

What a pleasant surprise!

Can't wait to listen. It's also incredibly awesome that you can get this legally in lossless format and it's amazing music to boot!

Nobody should pass on this.

Acre
September 20th 2010


847 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

God damn this is good. I was worried that this would fall into the same trap as The Discovery, which for my money couldn't sustain itself over an entire album. If anything, I'd say this is the best thing that Cloudkicker has released.

Thakey91
September 20th 2010


34 Comments


Utmost greetz and hailz for this album.
Respect _has_ been given.


MorningView425
September 21st 2010


162 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

absolutely stunning, and it's still growing on me

sexpoi
September 21st 2010


599 Comments


nice, i hope this doesn't get monotonous like the discovery did but ill check it out

TheFantasticDangler
September 21st 2010


1158 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

will check this out

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

GibTG
September 21st 2010


279 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not as impressed as I would've hoped, but it's still stellar nonetheless.

nychicano
September 21st 2010


310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Listening to now. So far this has been some high quality shit.

Popabubb
September 22nd 2010


61 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Shit sounds epic. The idea that they let you price how much you wanna pay is pretty neat too. Never seen that before. 5 bucks and I got a new CD that I didn't have to steal!



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