17 Jan 2023 - Gene
Classical | Piano | Lower Your Head
When you set out for Hellfest but end up at Montreux Jazz festival, and don’t even mind.
Translated as Different Environments, on account of these tracks being written in two different cities at different times by the itinerant artist, this collection of previously released singles brings along newly recorded tracks that, all together, scans as a cohesive whole rather than a hodgepodge of parts. These materials, written either in Texas or the composer’s home state of Oregon come together as a lush, meditative, ambient/orchestral collage that is powerful and inspirational as well as gloomy and introspective. The fact that this album came together piecemeal, as if by the hand of a vagrant poet, detracts not an ounce from the feeling that this is one concise, complete story.
The variety of textures, the choral harmonies, the chirping of birds and other natural sounds, the slowly unfurling strings and other lovely nuances are truly an audio enthusiast’s dream. And I am just such a one to wallow in the undulation of a single note progression until dawn. And here I am put in mind of the dawning of my musical journey. Of staying up into the late hours strapped to a Discman, morning rays beginning to creep into the apartment, of shifting groggily out of stasis, of struggling to correct my poor posture, and shoveling off to sleep in wordless bliss. It wasn’t until slightly later in my journey did I begin to appreciate a variety of non-metal genres as well as classical music history and the like, but there certainly have been a great many softer moments that would foreshadow my tangential love of Jazz soloists, Sitar instrumentalists, and Classical composers, in general. For indeed, there is no reason not to enjoy Uncommon Ritual and Phobos over the same glass of wine.
I was, at first, surprised to find not a modicum of the crushing Doom, which had me captivated on Obliviosus, the album by which I came to appreciate M.S.W’s solo work initially (an effort closer to Mizmor than to Spectrale, for example), until I realized he was recording for various styles under his own moniker, in a sort of no-holds-barred kind of way indicative of a true independent. And so, M.S.W Cloud becomes this classical outlet for an unlikely Doomster – a moniker reserved for the piano-centric, choral, classical inspirations – inspirations no doubt drawn from the gloaming gloom and the dense foggy mornings of the Pacific Northwest – as I understand it. It is a bit like flipping through the Cubist Pablo Picasso’s collected works to find he came from a solid foundation of realism and portraiture. We sometimes forget that our gritty guitar heroes are often classically trained too, and there is something satisfying about that fact. Rewinding back to 2013’s Musica Pro Lapsu reinforces this new understanding I have of the man.
The scope of Obliviosus interests me somewhat more these days – the piano cleans vibing off of the death screams and noise in a way that titillates the imagination and thirst for experimentation – but I cannot deny the pleasure of kicking back with this particular collection of chilled-out, yet plainly still moody, semi-ambient Classical-inspired tracks. It is as if the Obliviosus project distilled itself into its composite parts, Hell and Cloud. Oil in water. This is an invaluable part of the formula that makes that particular fusion possible and I am all about it. Please sir, may we have another?