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Cloudwatch 1
A Soundtrack to a Freeform Gathering
- Bill Tilland

In Option, July/August 1997, No. 75.


The thread holding this collection together is the past appearance of the participants at one or more of the all-nigh Cloudwatch chill-outs held in Baltimore since 1994. And either by accident or design, the 11 selections represent a loose mini-history of popular electronic music, beginning with the trance minimalism of Human Mesh Dance's "Tracing," which sounds a lot like mid-period Soft Machine, and Chuck Van Zyl's excellent recapitulation of vintage Tangerine Dream on "Saturn IV." Jonah Sharpe's Space Time Continuum, Dietrich Shoenmann and Little Jen follow with sparkling, pastoral fantasies, representing a continuation of new age bliss in the techno era. Steve Roach's contribution, "Live Cloudwatching," provides his characteristic mixture of mysterious drones, cosmic winds and muffled ethnic percussion. Funky dub rhythms, vocal loops and other contemporary techno embellishments appear in later selections, namely Telekenetic Soulmate's "Sub-Ductress," DJ Who's "Watch Me" and DJ Wally's "Ridiculous Sound." Finally, DJ Spooky and Terre Thaemlitz carry electronics into the uncharted future with two unsettling (even chilling) pieces, the first an ominous, slowly pulsating slab of sound with an overlay of insect drones and mournful wails (DJ Spooky's "Surface Noise"), and the second, "Still Life with Numerical Analysis," a strange mixture of canned laughter, electronic growls, clicks and rumbles, and subliminal melodic fragments. (Sonic Soul, 6 N. Collington Ave., Baltimore, MD 21231)