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Album Reviews : The Boy Who Spoke Clouds – Secret Corridors Lay Outside The Walls

By on June 11, 2013

a2511266893_2When I look at the influences of The Boy Who Spoke Clouds, the solo act of Melbourne’s Adam Casey, there’s only one name on the list that’s familiar. Not only that, “Devotional Folk” is not a genre I have ever Googled or searched for on Bandcamp. Yet as soon as I pressed play on the download that Rob of Natural World Records had sent me, it was clear this was something I would enjoy.

I have great admiration for solo artists and that unique essence it brings to music when there is no one else involved in making the sounds, an essence heightened in live performances or where they produce their own recordings. Casey uses a range of instruments in his improvised creations; guitars, hurdy gurdy, banjo, voices, violin, bass, throat singing, dharbukka, flute, piano, bells, singing bowls, gongs, harmonica, hackbrett, dan mooi, bowed saw, daf, harmonica, electric organ, castanets, moog, and mellotron. The three tracks were recorded live in his home to four-track reel-to-reel and they ooze with charm and warmth as a result.

This is music that needs the right time and place, and when you are in that time and place its trance-inducing drone wraps itself around you and spins you slowly into a cocoon. Despite the inclusion of European instruments there is clear inspiration from the Middle East and the CD cover brings together a number of images of spiritual euphoria induced by music, into an imaginary scene. There is a strange sense of timelessness created by the modern composition played on ancient instruments recorded on a vintage tape recorder.

The long opening track, “His Feet Bled As He Climbed To The Temple”, lays a droning base with  various instruments waxing and waning as they weave a pattern of contrasting threads providing hope at one moment and pain the next. Percussion comes to the fore at one stage providing a rhythmic pulse and over nearly 20 minutes the baton is passed between different instruments, some throat singing and other vocals creating a subtle variation that keeps the listener engaged. Although the title describes a physical journey there is also an internal, emotional preparation involved in the ritual.

“The Earth Moaned and Snapped At His Dancing Heels” gives us a metronomic, sharp drumbeat with a gradual climax as you slowly start to spin and with each rotation another element appears, joining in a circle around you. There’s no traditional melody but there is order, or perhaps more a purpose, to the increasing swell of instruments before once again voice dominates the closing minutes.

Closing track “Drunk With The Angels” is a shimmering, glistening affair – the flutter of a lyrebird’s tail – in which your 40 minute journey to some higher level of existence or understanding draws to its euphoric conclusion. It’s a very restrained euphoria, mind you, and very personal.

It doesn’t matter if you’re not deeply into devotional or ritual folk and don’t know Siberian shamanic ritualistic chant from a dastgah or a gusheh – I certainly don’t – but if you have 40 minutes to spare to really, properly listen to something mesmerising without any distractions, then give this a go.

Band: The Boy Who Spoke Clouds
Album: Secret Corridors Lay Outside The Walls
Year: 2013
Genre: Folk/Ambient
Label: Natural World Records
Origin: Melbourne, Australia
facebook.com/theboywhospokeclouds

Track list:
1. His Feet Bled As He Climbed To The Temple
2. The Earth Moaned & Snapped At His Dancing Heels
3. Drunk With The Angels

About

A relatively recent convert to more extreme metal (not exclusively), I've always preferred non-commercial and progressive music to mainstream. I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, where in my youth I lived for every new Greasy Pop Records release. I also write for ech(((o)))es & dust and ThisIsNotAScene but it's good to start contributing to an Australian metal site.