Cloud – Blunt Shade Artcore

Blunt Shade Artcore

And here we have another lesson from the school of, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Okay, so it isn’t fantastic, but it isn’t anywhere near as bad as I expected it to be when I first saw the CD-R coated in permanent marker drawings and wrapped in a little plastic baggie with photocopied inserts featuring art drawn with crayons.
The songs range from lovely little guitar and piano melodies to bizarre, atmospheric electronica, but one thing remains constant: everything is completely instrumental. “No Sides Now” is the pleasant, completely electronic opener, and it is followed by the heavily distorted, nonsensical “Sunset #9,” which sounds like a bunch of kids in a garage, pounding on whatever they can find in order to make “music.” “Every Great Action Hero Needs a Sidekick” is next; a cheesy, poppy track that, as the title suggests, it sounds as though it was written to accompany the action sequence from a cheesy 80s television show. “Upon Discovering the Lair of the Secret Beach Boys Fans” is, aside from the excessively long title, a cute and catchy little piano-based pop song. “Norway is the New Zealand” reverts back to the odd, electronic style that the album opens with, while “He’s Drowning” takes a few of those electronic twists and turns, but neatly blends them with a jazzy piano/drum flavor, and is unfortunately just over a minute long.
“Finger Turn Me On” is a fuzzed out, dissonant, largely electronic jumble that morphs into bouncy surf-like music before it ends, and it’s followed by “The Eternal Flame Takes a Permanent Vacation,” which sounds a little like a country song from outer space. “Wish I Was Part of the Teen Exploitation Machine” is a sweet little acoustic ballad, if ballads were less than two minutes long. “Full Portrait Jerry Chest Tattoo” and “The Total Blam-Blam” finish as two slightly spacey, slightly rocking numbers that are decent, but fail to leave much of a mark.
Michael Bowman is the brain behind Cloud. He has worked on countless projects, always releasing music in some form, much of which you have probably never heard of before. He is one of those talented multi-instrumentalists we all wish we could be. He has a penchant for music, odd song titles, and refusing to let the listener figure out what he is doing. By this I mean that he manages to squeeze 11 tracks into less than half an hour, so that only three tracks last more than three minutes. Just when you are starting to get comfortable (or uncomfortable) with a song, things come to an abrupt end. In some cases this is a good thing, in some cases it is a bad thing. Either way, Blunt Shade Artcore may be better than I expected, but I expected very little, so it didn’t take much to impress me this time around.