Man of War is a significant sonic progression for the band. Opening track Gaia sets the tone for the release perfectly. Heavy, brooding bass and glitchy, synth stabs create an imposing sonic backdrop for Tom’s menacing vocal to hang on. Lead and title track Man Of War is driven by its propulsive beats and more washes of bass and eerie electronic touches. Fall Crocus finds the band in contemplative mood. A heavy, regretful air hangs over the track and brings to mind the work of international superstar and Mercury Prize winner James Blake, who the band has toured with, as well as Mount Kimbie and Ghostpoet previously. Final original cut Cosmos Pink is perhaps the album’s most touching effort. Cloud Boat have always been a band capable of inducing sincere emotion and this release is no different, taking the listener on a powerful, cathartic journey through life’s big issues.
Remix wise, the release features offerings from Phaeleh and LA – 4A. Each act brings its own distinguishable flavour to Man Of War. Phaeleh’s version features his trademark, cinematic, take on house electronics and is a typically atmospheric effort, while LA – 4A takes Cloud Boat in a modern techno direction.
Having initially met as teenagers, playing in metal bands together, Sam and Tom decided to turn their attentions to creating the type of moody, emotional electronic music that they’re known for as Cloud Boat. ‘Man Of War’ carries the thread of those early metal influences through with the DIY, punk, ethic associated with that scene still deeply influencing their output. With new, full time jobs, the band was forced to make music in the early hours and when they could make time. Punk and hardcore was being played constantly and its influence clearly bleeds into these, heavy, brooding tracks.
The band was tired and ready for a shake up following their second album and subsequent touring of Model Of You and sought change within their setup. A new label, Born Electric was brought in and Tom headed to Berlin for a change of scenery. The result of this is an intentionally darker record. Written and recorded at Ten87 Studios in Seven Sisters, with additional production and mixing from James Kelly of WIFE/Altar of Plagues, Man Of War sees Cloud Boat inhabit the musical territory they’ve always been aiming for. The result is an unequivocal triumph.
Published: 4th November 2016