Little Histories review by Cloudkicker

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  • Released: Dec 1, 2014
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7.7 Good
  • Users' score: 8.1 (13 votes)
Cloudkicker: Little Histories

Sound — 8
The two best words to describe Ben Sharp would be "humble genius." Donning the moniker Cloudkicker when he's making music, Sharp is an unsigned solo composer that shows little interest in having his passion for music be a facet for financial gain - he offers all of his music for free download, with his reason being, "it costs me absolutely nothing to create the music." However, he still manages to sell shirts and physical copies of his music as well as perform live from time to time due to the following he's amassed for being a hidden treasure, successfully captivating the eggheads and hipsters in the metal community with his beautifully brainy, avant-garde music.

Cloudkicker's 2012 album, "Fade," took a break from the aggressive and technical prog-metal and focused on being more post-metaly; which was then followed up by "Subsume," which dove back into the arms of the former style. Cloudkicker's new EP, "Little Histories," essentially bridges the two styles together. The beginning interlude "Parliament" sets the table with sparse guitar plucks and the warm humming of an organ before going into the "Fade"-styled track "Sky Guide," where Sharp jams the same riff while increasing guitar layers momentously sprout.

The guitars start climbing towards a prog-metal level of loud and powerful in the slow-going, hint-of-doom "Chameleon," but it's not until the middle of "Digital Lightning" when Sharp finally lets the dogs loose and syncs the guitars and bass to tricky technical riffing, which will surely quench the thirst of the progheads. The final track "Hassan" settles things down again to post-metal texture building, but the second half has Sharp going back to riffing in a state of trance, where the irrational rhythm bursts make that hamster-wheel repetition more interesting than the typical jamming section.

Lyrics — 7
Sharp had dryly stated in an interview years ago that he had no interest in adding any vocal elements to his music. For whatever reason why is anyone's guess - maybe he feels adamant about Cloudkicker's music not needing vocals and lyrics, or maybe he's just shy about singing. Regardless, Sharp has decided to break that silence for the first time in "Little Histories," where "Sky Guide" includes a small set of lyrics delivered through a vocoder. Most likely added in to make the jam track a bit more interesting, the lyrics are brief and vague ("way down, it's a long way down/and how you're gonna fall away/long time, such a long time/don't fight it, just slip away"), so for the most part, the meaning of the song is amorphous and open to whatever interpretation the listener sees fit. This is Sharp merely dipping his toes into a new aspect that Cloudkicker never had before, so the experimentation has little effect in the EP, which is neither good or bad; though if Sharp decided to bring a whole arsenal of lyrics for each song, who knows how jarring the difference would have been, so perhaps easing into that new element ever so slightly is the smart way to start.

Overall Impression — 8
With an overarching progression from pretty post-metal interludes to well-calculated prog-metal sections, "Little Histories" threads the needle between the introspective and intelligent sides of Cloudkicker, and builds a cohesive path from start to finish. Ultimately playing to the strengths that Sharp has displayed before, "Little Histories" makes for a good introduction and/or refresher on the multi-faceted sound of Cloudkicker, which will both captivate newcomers and remind the loyal fans why they got into Cloudkicker in the first place.

9 comments sorted by best / new / date

    This man has never had as a bad release, everything is always solid and airtight with a fine balance of groove and atmosphere. For me personally The Discovery is still his masterpiece
    Inaccurate to say that Little Histories breaks any ground in the vocal department; that happened on Let Yourself Be Huge. Still, another highly enjoyable listen.
    I had never seen anything Cloudkicker-related on UG, and now I'm really happy
    Man, compare this to The Discovery, what an evolution. Always good of course, lovin that he changes styles instead of releasing the same material over and over again
    So glad I took the time to check this out. Great artist, this Cloudkicker! Not to mention an awesome moniker as well.
    What an interesting listen. Signal/Noise sort of put me in a Snow Patrol trance. Not a bad thing at all. Real talented production.
    I got the chance to speak with Ben after a show in Minneapolis in April this year, we talked about production styles and what he was into at the moment (minimalist-type stuff and sludgy guitar tone). Such a freaking class act, Ben Sharp. Not once did I ever get the vibe that he thought his time was more important than mine or anything like that. Little Histories is awesome, a great change up from Subsume, and it's so cool to hear what we talked about months ago come through in his latest work!
    I highly recommend that anyone interested in Cloudkicker to look through his backlog of music on bandcamp. it's all free and very good! Some notable songs - Dysphoria, Oh god, seattle, Our crazy night, the discovery.