Livre De Nuages Vol 1 by Book of Clouds
Livre De Nuages Vol 1, the debut offering from the experimental collective Book of Clouds, starts off in a tizzy of unadulterated sonic dreamscapes binding together to create the tone of a whistling wind in “Prélude,” which spends fifteen minutes winding us down a hollow path of rigid textures that ebb and flow like the tide of the ocean. They’re setting the stage for “Chapitre 1 (Sous Les Nuages),” which weaves an anti-melodic tapestry that will leave us saturated in gritty feedback and wondering whether or not we’re listening to something that was recorded within this universe or not. The sparkling notes that come cascading from the intrepid Federico Balducci’s fretwork dance like flames on a campfire as we near the twelve minute-mark, and in their violent vortex, we find a foray into “Chapitre 2.”
“Chapitre 2” can be divided into three distinct acts that are defined by their admittance of percussive tones into the master mix.
The scratchy white noise finds something close to a tempo as we reach the second, and eventually devolves into a decadent, albeit industrialized, melodicism in the third. It’s not the stellar, neo-space rock that “Chapitre 3” is, but let’s face it, very few ambient jams are. In this track, we hover above existence itself in an obtuse, textural holding pattern that chugs its way into a sort of epitaphic ballad of jazz guitar strumming closer to the central climax of the piece. Book of Clouds aren’t even playing songs for us on this record; they’re summoning sonic gods with a six-stringed guitar and some very effective effects pedals.
Ominousness and terror greet us in the dark whimsy of “Chapitre 4” and its studious intro, which spends no less than four minutes transporting us to threshold of the infamous brown note, only to retreat before everything within earshot collapses in a hurricane of noise. The chill-inducing glare of the guitar is potent and rich here, but it can’t prepare us for what’s waiting on the other side of the horizon in the album-closing “Chapitre 5.” Here, we finally make our acquaintance with an amalgamation of underlying energy that has been skulking about in the shadows up until now and, at long last, finally has its moment in the spotlight before the record disappears into the empty, black void of silence from which it first arose.
There’s really no simple way to summarize what listeners can anticipate to hear in Livre De Nuages Vol 1, but that’s not for a lack of genuine creative effort from its creators. The reality is that Book of Clouds forge a watershed LP here that is as lush and affecting a work of art as anything I’ve ever seen or listened to in my life, and it comes to us completely devoid of the unoriginal bells and whistles that have plagued contemporary noise music with unneeded bombast that, in my opinion, waters down the aesthetic of the genre as a whole tremendously. Book of Clouds are one of the most enthralling experimental outfits of their peer group, and I’m quite positive that this won’t be the last majestic piece of music that they share with us before disbanding the project.