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(56:24; Gare Du Nord)
TRACK LIST: 1. You & Me in Space 4:26 2. Back in Time 3:56 3. You Wanna Put Me Down 3:14 4. Winter Song 3:48 5. All These Plans 3:25 6. Free Me Now 4:02 7. No One Makes a Sound 2:47 8. The Same Old Dream 4:14 9. Waves 2:47 10. Promised Land 3:30 11. Peace Not Religion 4:43 12. Miles & Miles Away 3:47 13. These Heavy Drops of Rain 3:21 14. In the Big Crowd 3:09 15. Somebody Else 5:15 LINE UP : Marco Magnani - vocals, guitars, harmonica, keyboards John O’Sullivan - bass, pedal steel, keyboards, vocals, voice Shin Okajima - drums, voice with: Rachel Kashi - keyboards Maya Kasparova - violin Tom Hammond - trumpet Joseph Hammond - trombone DJ Marrs - voice Bonfire - voice Rachel - voice
Prolusion. UK band MARK & THE CLOUDS have been around since 2013 or thereabouts, and while I can't really recall how I first became aware of them I suspect it was due to material sent to me by either Fruits de Mer Records or Mega Dodo Records some years ago. A few weeks back the band was kind enough to send me their latest studio album, "Waves", which was released earlier this year through UK label Gare De Nord.
Analysis. While the progressor website mainly deals with progressive rock, we occasionally cover material a bit outside of those bonds too. In this case because it is a fine album exploring one of the styles of music we enjoyed before progressive rock developed, which is psychedelic rock. Mark & The Clouds are one of the many bands that proudly looks back in time for inspiration, and appears to have concluded that some of the most interesting music was made back in the 1960's. Hence the majority of the material here does have strong sensibilities from that decade as dominant aspects, and obviously with the staples of psychedelic rock from that era as constant and dominant features. They do add a bit of variation to this orientation though, adding in touches and flavors from later years too, but more importantly they explore and investigate a fair amount of different takes on the psychedelic rock of the 1960's. From melancholic soft pop songs with an artful feel and occasionally a slight Beatlesesque vibe to dreamladen mystical excursions with keyboards and Mellotron sounds adding tons of personality and right through to firmer and tighter affairs that makes me think of a band like The Kinks. Brass details are used here and there to good effect, and a small handful of the songs makes use of root and folk music elements that to my ears have more of a US-oriented touch to them, which is a nice touch indeed. That they also makes use of a similar guitar pattern and some atmospheric elements that might have been pulled from one of the great Spaghetti Western soundtracks from way back when is another charming addition to their repertoire, and a nice break from the rest of the album when they use those details in the song that concludes this production. For those who like their psychedelic rock and appreciate the charms of the music made back in the 1960's and early 70's, bands like Mark & The Clouds will deliver what is desired as well as what is needed, and they create and explore landscapes also beyond what many people might expect from a band described as being such a retro-oriented unit.
Conclusion. While not really being a progressive rock band, Mark & The Clouds makes a very good and charming job out of exploring one of the key predecessors of progressive rock on their latest album "Waves". Those who generally find the psychedelic pop and psychedelic rock of the 1960's and early 1970's to be charming and interesting should have a very good chance of being charmed by the songs, the music and the talents of this fine UK threesome. Psychedelic rock FTW.
Progmessor: December 2021
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