About as nice a slab of chunky, groovy outdoor progressive as you could hope for. Cloud Catcher is the name given to the remains of a 20 million year-old volcano near Byron Bay, Australia; a spiritually and culturally significant area that’s been the location of some rather special outdoor gatherings. This album pays tribute to the place, the people, the music: and if that little introductory story doesn’t spark your interest, then the lineup certainly should.
SunControlSpecies kicks off with Pedestrian, certainly more in keeping with his original sound and without much of the funky deviation seen on his recent album. It’s effortlessly brilliant: the groove morphs subtly underneath your feet, and the injection of a laconic funkiness comes just when it’s needed. Current psyreviews darling Shadow FX does equally well with Nutz n’ Boltz, sounding a little older and more raw than anything on his recent, brilliant album: it’s a moody, paranoid affair that’s in no rush at all to gather momentum but when it does, you’re in barefoot heaven.
Tetrameth’s Alien Rape Table is every bit as scatty and deep as you’d expect. Sounds are layered left, right and centre and the sheer range of microsounds and percussive flicks makes you sort of wonder what’s holding the track together. A crackingly psychedelic final run toes it all together, with a low-set midrange lead that’s proper job, how’s your father goodiegoodness.
Next up, Sensient in one of his most pure-techno tracks I’ve heard – Loose Cannon is wonderful stuff, pure trance in the original sense of the word. There’s a stuttered uneven-ness that somehow becomes even and sublime, like a sort of peacefulness from noise.
Short Circuit’s Frank has a heavier, bassier presence – think rolling thunder that sparks lightning flashes of melody as it gathers pace. It’s well put together for the most part, the most intriguing section being the midsection where the heftiness and the melody are at odds. It loses its way on the final run, where the melody gets a little too multi-layered. Dark Nebula vs Psywalker do their dark thing again with Symbiotic Creatures – decent stuff, although its inclusion here among largely softer and more flexible sounds is a tad puzzling.
Dreamweaver & Strange Planet do very nicely with G5 Power, a track that has a solid Australian presence which, when coupled with an original and deft palate of sounds, comes up trumps. The midsection proves you can create bundles of energy without going the whole hog: it’s fluid, free and tight. Only the stopstart rhythm section stops it being an all-out essential. Lost Keys’ Desert Dust has some good ideas, and is nicely atmospheric, but despite some very promising moments there’s not enough there to justify its rambling eleven plus minutes. Finally Superfluous Nipple does nicely with Buoyancy, a 120bpm chap with that sort of underwater grooviness that you don’t often hear these days.
Cloud Catcher is decent stuff. As a compilation it’s made a good stab at bringing different styles together, and although it loses its focus in a couple of places, the quality – particularly of the first four tracks – is more than enough to carry it through. Impressive.