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Lie In Light

Cloudland Canyon

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Album Review

Going through Cloudland Canyon's first three releases — the full-length Requiems der Nature 2002-2004, the EP Silver Tongued Sisyphus, and the single, half-hour "single" Exterminating Angel — it's easy to see the development from their early electronic, near ambient works that rely on Moebius and Rodelius to the more psychedelic displays of Neu! and Guru Guru with their own brand of near-silly pop woven into the fabric. Two years later we come to Lie in Light, a seven-cut full-length on Kranky that tosses this all into the cauldron and more, much more, for a frothy yet meandering brew of retro-psych rock sounds plus Motorik and kosmiche from the German scene of the '70s. Look no further than "Krautwerk," the album's opening track. A drone set up by a church organ, synth, and God knows what else commences the cut, then gives way a minute later to an early Kraftwerk-ian groove and Can's sense of guitar freak drama. While there are some drum fills, Cloudland Canyon's Kip Uhlhorn and Simon Wojan add layers of bass, screaming fuzzed guitar, chanted vocals, harmonium, fuzzed over pulsing basslines,and sine wave generators. Kelly Uhlhorn adds her voice to the mix as another droning presence with her repeated recitation of "Lie in Light..." Cheesy synths on stun soar above the mix, swooping in and out as vocal screams—à la Mani Neumeier—burst in about halfway through. Sure, you've heard it all before, but it works beautifully; in fact, one wishes the track would simply never exhaust itself. It's easy to get lost in that bath of sound. "White Woman" begins with a majestic synth drone met by guitars and other instrumental sounds and (controlled) feedback participates in setting the scene for a modal chant of lyrics so dumb they'll make you laugh. The music is deeply reminiscent of Planet Gong calling down the playful cosmic gods in one of their extended interludes. Speaking of Gong, Steve Hillage's albums Rainbow Dome Musick and Green were obvious references here, but more for the warm, bubbling synthesizer sounds in "Heme." The construction of the album is seamless; one track simply bleeds into another and the dream goes on. That said, it's also the problem. All of this adaptation and fiddling with textures while slipping the imitation of one long-gone legend's music into another one's without an individual sense of identity is a little much. It may indeed be their M.O. but there is little to distinguish this record from those by their more legendary predecessors except as imitation and assimilation to the point of blur and white out. Lie in Light is a decent listen, at times even an excellent one, but it's utterly temporal: there isn't anything here to stand out in one's memory when it's over.

Biography

Formed: 2002

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Also the name of a state park in Georgia, experimental duo Cloudland Canyon carry on the abstract electronic sounds pioneered by such artists as Ash Ra Tempel. The project began in 2002 when Kip Uhlhorn, the Brooklyn-based guitarist for Panthers (and prior to that screamo band the Red Scare) met German multi-instrumentalist Simon Wojan when Uhlhorn was touring Europe. Following a brief recording session and a few years of track-trading between Uhlhorn and Wojan — along with contributions from...
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Lie In Light, Cloudland Canyon
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