Deadly Clouds

A hip-hop project that has always piqued my intrigue is Clouddead (often written cLOUDDEAD). A friend of mine lent me their first self-titled full length shortly after it was released in 2001. The band only released two albums and I think this is my favorite. The guys in the band are the main talents and producers of their own label from out of Oakland, California, called Anticon. They’ve since gone on to form other side-projects and the label has a decent catalog of independent progressive hip-hop music.

clouddead

There are a few things that make Clouddead interesting. First, the vocals are not pushed to the front of the mix, as I usually expect in rap music. They’re a little more subdued, yet very rapid-fire and explosive. There are constant trade-offs between the two main vocalists, Doseone and Why? which feature some exceptional harmonized or doubled segments. I found this to be really exciting when I first heard it in high school.

The band also makes use of progressive electronic elements. The instrumental segments of this band are really phenomenal and almost steal the show. Considering how much of a sucker I am for sticky, lo-fi, laser-like synth sequencing, it’s obvious why I dig this so much. That’s what’s cool here, there are equal “indie rock” and progressive electronica influences abounding, alongside the original rap delivery.

Some of my favorite portions of this band’s music are instrumental. The album goes through a bunch of different moods. Some of it is ominous, some of it is frenetic and fast-paced, or light-hearted and ridiculously silly, and it’s never real preachy. The lyrics strike me as being a little cryptic in those portions where they’re being emphasized over the music, but melancholic and insightful in other parts. Not to mention, those brooding moments remind me of some of Ulver‘s Perdition City-era stuff, which is great — I really liked that album, and anyone who likes this Clouddead album probably would too.

So, I wouldn’t tag this as hip-hop or trip-hop or indie rock or any of that stuff. I’d call it… “progressive lo-fi electronic hip-hop.” The actual sound production in the music here reminds me at times of Tortoise or Bablicon. The music has that warm vinyl/analog feel, no matter the medium the album is playing through.

If any of this interests you, I advise you to pick this album up and check out the label. It’s well worth it, even if you’re not a big hip-hop fan.

Here are a few samples:

cLOUDDEAD – Apartment A., Pt. 2 (sample) – s/t
cLOUDDEAD – I Promise Never to Get Paint on my Glasses Again, Side A (sample) – s/t
cLOUDDEAD – #5, Pt. 1 (sample) – s/t

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~ by chaosrexmachinae on March 7, 2008.

One Response to “Deadly Clouds”

  1. This is a great write-up. I love this album and you manage to capture it well. I’m going to check out that Ulver album.

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