Review Summary: Space's first solo effort is significantly more mellow than his previous work with [namely] Memento, sporting lush soundscapes and atmospheric elements that embody the majesty of progressive music. In short: beautifully captivating tunes.
Read an interview with Space regarding this release at the below address:
Citing Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, and the late Jeff Buckley as significant influences, the eclectic and eccentric Australian-born Space's first solo effort comes in stark contrast to his previous work. Predominantly associated with hard rockers Memento, and more recently with Kevin Martin & The Hiwatts, Space's nine-song debut is significantly more mellow, sporting lush soundscapes and atmospheric elements that embody the beauty of progressive music.
When Clouds Align
is also, quite clearly, a one-man show. From the solo project's inception to post-production, Space nearly single-handedly was the force behind the album at each stage. To clarify, Space did not solely play guitar - his primary instrument with his past musical endeavors - he also was responsible for the vocals, bass, keys, and percussion on the album, and he doesn't stop there: Space played a substantial role in the programming, recording, mixing, and production of the album as well. Past bandmates Steve Clark (Memento) and Terry "T-Bone" Rowe (Kevin Martin & The Hiwatts) are guest musicians who assisted Space on drums on When Clouds Align
, but even Space himself gets behind the kit on a couple tracks. In short, Space's intendance throughout the album from start-to-finish is highly noteworthy.
One of the best examples of Space at his best on When Clouds Align
is the brilliant Brian Loses His Last Battle
, which incorporates the essential guitars and percussion, but also non-standard instruments, one of which includes a zither. Brian...
is an all-inclusive Space track, opening with an attractive keyboard solo, followed by the other instruments gradually filtering in. The zither's eminence acts as a complement to the keyboards and acoustic guitars, later receiving its own brief featured sections before the pre-chorus with the main keyboard riff playing in steadfast support. As the track progresses, particularly in the choruses, the guitars become more distorted and Space's unwavering voice hits his upper register with ease. "You're not about to help me with my tragedy, are you?" beckons the Australian, while pounding drums and distorted guitars begin to assert themselves. Brian Loses His Last Battle
highlights Space at his best at each instrument, but also in the mixing and production on the track. Between the different sets of stringed instruments, keys, percussion, and vocals, not one aspect detracts from the rest; rather, the track maintains an enduring state of equilibrium throughout. In short, Brian...
is one of the best songs on the album.
Despite his busy-as-a-beaver work ethic on When Clouds Align
, Space does not forget that the guitar is his primary instrument, with at-times electrifying fretwork. For instance, Only to Fly
is a guitar-dominated number, starting with its chord-driven intro to the arpeggios found in the song's bridge, with a vivid electric solo in the final chorus, where Space's soaring vocals of "Spread your wings, elevate to carry me, I'm holding on for more," are ironically apposite. Space exhibits a sturdy voice, which suits him especially well with acoustic-driven numbers such as the album's opener, Break Away
, in which he croons, "It never hurts to know yourself a little more each day," before ripping into one of the album's best electric licks, or in Here
, where Space's seasoned, wispy vocals over arpeggiated acoustic chords turn to a robust declaration over electric guitars: "Fear the voices in your head; I have heard what they said."
Other noteworthy tracks include Hold On
, which again showcases Space's skill on the ax with a sensational guitar solo before the final chorus, in which Space exclaims, "Hold on for your life, now, here we go!" and also Meltdown
, which arguably features Space's best vocal performance on the album. Meltdown
is a slower, beautiful track that sets up album's conclusion: the pensive, dreamlike self-titled track, which is also the longest track found on When Clouds Align
at just over eight minutes. Space's breezy vocals, which whisper of clouds, tides, and how "There's nothing left to feel," are presented as if in a lullaby, while clean electric guitar trickles slowly to the tapping of a glockenspiel and elegant bass.
Without a doubt, Jeff Buckley is an enormous influence on Space in his first solo effort. When Clouds Align
is not the next Grace
, but it is a convincingly beautiful album throughout, with lush soundscapes and resolute vocals. The samples Space incorporates on the album, from oceans rolling in to orchestral arrangements to the use of melancholy synthesizers, provide the album with gorgeous atmosphere and disposition, and the different levels of guitars - from down-hearted, soft acoustic to crunching, distorted electric - exemplify why Space is most renowned for his guitarwork, although his vocals certainly bolster the album as well. Lastly, the album is worth listening to to gain an appreciation for all the effort one musician invested into it, starting with the songwriting process, continuing with the arranging and recording aspect, and finalizing it all with the programming and mixing. Brian Loses His Last Battle
, Only to Fly
, and Hold On
are the three transcendent "heavier" tracks on the album, while the somber Meltdown
, the pacifying Just Breathe In
with its soothing instrumental and vocal passages, and the tender title track are worthwhile listening at the softer end of the spectrum. In all, when given the opportunity to grow on listeners gradually over time, When Clouds Align
is an extremely advisable listen from start-to-finish.
Brian Loses His Last Battle
Only to Fly
Just Breathe In
When Clouds Align