Cloudland Canyon

Requiems der Nature 2002-2004

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Veering off the well-traveled roadway of Krautrock-styled electronic avant rock (Tangerine Dream, Popol Vuh, Cluster) through a bumpy detour of addled noise experimentalism (Black Dice, Animal Collective, Wolf Eyes), Cloudland Canyon merge onto the prog rock autobahn with this collection of early works auspiciously titled Requiems der Natur 2002-2004. While the Teutonic reference in the title may come off as pretentious, know first that one half of this duo, Simon Wojan, is authentically German, and has seemingly inherited the rich birthright of Krautrock history, whether through diligent study or the blood in his veins. And with the collaboration of his Brooklyn-based partner, Kip Uhlhorn, the postmodern noise of that unique musical outpost has added a complementary aesthetic that results in a unique take on a saturated genre. The analog-sounding keyboards and various electronics pulse and cycle in repetitive motorik rhythms, laying a foundation of hypnotic trance derived from their 1970s German forebears, while manipulated vocal loops and heavily treated "rock" instruments come straight from the blips, bleeps, and blats of the modern noise scene. The juxtaposition is at times jarring and at others soothing, and always inventive. Standout tracks include the circular acoustic guitar motif and tweaked vocal layers of "Field Ghosts" (see early Animal Collective), the intricate synth strings and Moogy drone of "Coastal Breathe" (Tangerine Dream at their spaciest), the pulsating bass riff and incongruous horn charts of "Holy Canyon -- Vanquish" (shades of French-Canadian contemporaries Feu Therese), and the lo-fi fuzz-folk of "Carolina Foxtail/Sea Chirp" (a touch of Flying Saucer Attack or Faust for psychedelic effect). But every track is a winner, and as familiar reference points pass by it's fun to spot the signposts and landmarks, but more rewarding to just enjoy the scenery and let the musicians navigate. This collection sets the bar for experimental music along with their subsequently released two-song epic Silver Tongued Sisyphus, and it will be an exhilarating ride to see where they take listeners next.

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