Beautiful, bleak fragility...
Cloud Boat by Neil Bedford

Cloud Boat are playing the long game. 2011 saw a flurry of activity: the pair was handpicked by James Blake for tour support; their debut single was released on R&S; blog features declared them the latest warriors of future-bass.

We waited for more. But aside from a haunting cover of ‘Silent Night’ for Christmas, nothing.

Nearly two years later and the north London duo has re-emerged with a fine debut album, ‘Book Of Hours’ (Clash review).

Refusing to limit the art of self-restraint to only their release schedule, the bleak fragility of the single ‘Youthern’ confirms that vocalist Tom Clarke and guitarist Sam Ricketts are only concerned with the very, very necessary. It’s all sparse bass, with an intimate, Bon Iver-recalling hook: “We’ve never felt love / Cos of the state of us.”

“The biggest moments in our songs are often where there’s the least going on,” explains Tom. “Often it’s a case of saying to each other, ‘Take that away, take that away, bring that down, bring that down.’ Eighty percent of the time that’s the input the other person has, to just say: ‘Do less’.”

Initially creating “folky, post-rocky songs with not much in them,” their heady electronic rumble began to take shape with influence from James Blake.

“He was showing us that he was able to make this amazing, textural, quite exciting music on his own. We began to collect field recordings, make sounds, beats and basslines, put them on our sampler then go out and play live. Adding those elements, the songs began to evolve.”

The result is perhaps as reverential as ‘post-dubstep’ can possibly get. Dark, atmospheric guitar expands between scattered drum patterns and soft swathes of bass, all working to deliver the sentiments so acutely conveyed by Tom’s vocals. Is it anger, sadness, loneliness?

“It’s hard to describe. It’s based on instinct and emotion, taking parts of me that I feel like I need to get out in some way. I’m asking people for something I suppose. I think that’s what it is; kind of asking people to take on board some part of you, really. Which can be quite a big thing to ask.”

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Where: North London

What: Sparse bass and intimate confessions

Get 3 Songs: ‘Lions On The Beach’, ‘Bastion’, ‘Youthern’

Unique Fact: Tom had a job interview to become a pallbearer but was turned down for being too tall. He became a part-time baker instead.

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Words: Kimberlee Hillyard

Photo: Neil Bedford

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