With one of the more intriguing takes on the recent trend of POMO band names, the three-piece Cloud Castle Lake, after stirring in the Dublin pot for years, seem to finally be upon us. Their ‘Dandelion EP’ is largely mixed by the renowned Rob Kirwan, whose mixes blend the glitch-rock and brass factors into this sultry product. It’s clear from the off that there’s great work here from all involved.
The EP opens with Sync, a track that features the impossibly high vocals of Daniel McAuley, with a light sprinkling of brass background that soon meanders from this Sigur Rós territory (the comparison is tough to avoid), and moves into tribal beats and backing harmonies over ‘The King of Limbs’-esque grooves. It’s infectious stuff, and a great hook into the four-track offering.
A Wolf Howling, moves into eerier territory. The haunted trip-hop foundation is built upon by vocals that are at time tormented and submissive, and at times claw back in retaliation. They take on a Portishead darkness that is seldom realised successfully, but here Cloud Castle Lake seem to be in their element; surreal spectrums often spurred on by distorted sound loops and scratchy, punctuating guitar.
Mothcloud, the penultimate track, takes us down a different alley; a lament that owes much to Jeff Buckley, and yet sways between this soft touch and a seedy lounge number. The brass reappears here, and helps guide the near-waltz into a mighty crescendo that somehow retains its sensitivity.
The final, title track is the most delicate of the bunch, and takes a simpler route to reaching its spectral destination than the previous three. An acoustic guitar, and then a gently scratching sample, ballroom dances us gently towards the track’s end. Airs of Four Tet’s My Angel Rocks Back and Forth are never far away, until the music fades and we’re left with what may be the most promising instrument of all; McAuley’s voice.
Throughout, where the songs will surely hit a wall, Cloud Castle Lake somehow find a way to float above it, onto a new, unforeseen plain. Song-writing and structures such as these must be painstakingly developed, and yet on record the songs flow with a fluidity that never stumbles or stagnates.
In each case, the focus seems to be on atmosphere. They want you to see what they see, whether the wolf howling, the moth cloud or the cloud, castle and lake. Invariably, they succeed.
Now is the time to get your hopes up.
‘Dandelion EP’ is released on the 19th of September on Happy Valley Records.
They play their release gig the following night in Whelan’s.