Tag Archives: Cloud Atlas

2014 Albums of the Year – Part Three

Part three of the end-of-year album countdown, and we’re into the top ten. These are from 10 to 6, again sorted alphabetically because I can’t sort these into any sort of order. They’re all equally good.

Cloud AtlasBeyond the Vale

Cloud Atlas - Beyond The Vale newYet another York-based band (Is there something in the water?), Cloud Atlas is the band put together by Heidi Widdop following the dissolution of Stolen Earth. Their impressive début album is big widescreen rock with an epic scope, with Heidi’s distinctive bluesy vocals setting them apart from many of their obvious peers. But this album’s sound is as much about Martin Ledger’s soaring melodic lead guitar, with strong echoes of Marillion’s Steve Rothery.

Gazpacho Demon

Gazpacho - DemonNorway’s Gazpacho have come up with one of the darkest and most sinister-sounding records of 2014. It’s what Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden might have sounded like if Mark Hollis had spent a lot of time listening to Black Sabbath. Sinister violin-led pastoral soundscapes with are intercut with bursts of hard rock, motifs recur across the album, and there’s even an irruption of accordion-led central European folk at one point. An ambitious album which is by no means an easy listen, but one where you can keep finding new layers after many listens.

Knifeworld The Unravelling

The UnravellingA major step forward for Kavus Torabi’s eight-piece band, and reflects their current live sound far more than any of their previous recordings. It’s a record that takes psychedelia, jazz, hard rock and all kinds of other things, and puts them in a blender to produce something that sounds quite unlike anyone else. Fans of the late, great Frank Zappa should find a lot to like about this record, as should anyone who thinks there should be more bassoons in rock.

Luna RossaSecrets and Lies

Luna Rossa Secrets & LiesLuna Rossa started out as a side-project from Panic Room emphasising the acoustic side of Anne-Marie Helder’s and Jon Edwards’ music, but seems to have taken on a life of it’s own. Their second album is a logical progression from the first; perhaps not quite as eclectic, but with a slightly clearer musical identity. Luna Rossa still defy easy genre pigeonholing, though the album does show occasional hints of artists as varied as Goldfrapp and Renaissance. There’s some very raw heart-on-sleeve emotion, with the music revolving around and complementing Anne-Marie’s always remarkable vocals.

Steve RotheryThe Ghosts of Pripyat

Steve Rothery - The Ghosts of PripyatThis Kickstarter-funded project is Steve Rothery’s first proper solo album in more than three decades as lead guitarist of Marillion. It’s an instrumental album with a band including Panic Room’s Yatim Halimi and Mr So and So’s Dave Foster, Rothery’s lyrical and emotional playing both soars and rocks, the numbers building in intensity from slow-burning beginnings. The whole thing shows just why Rothery is one of the best guitarists of his generation, one of the few players good enough to pull this sort of thing off without descending into self-indulgence.

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Cloud Atlas – Stars

“Stars”, one of the standouts from Cloud Atlas’ debut album “Beyond the Vale”.

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Cambridge Rock Festival 2014 – Part Two

Olivia Sparnenn of Mostly Autumn at the 2014 Cambridge Rock Festival

For those who’s tastes run towards progressive rock and metal, Sunday was always going to be the day to be looked forward to the most. Continue reading

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Cloud Atlas – Searchlight

The song “Searchlight” from Cloud Atlas’ “Beyond the Vale” illustrated with photos from their launch gig in York last month.

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Cloud Atlas Album Launch

Cloud Atlas album launch at Tokyos in York

A few photos from Cloud Atlas’ album launch in Tokyo’s in York, moved at short notice from the original scheduled venue, Fibbers.

Cloud Atlas album launch at Tokyos in York

The songs from the album “Beyond the Vale” come over well live, which given the raw, live feel of the album shouldn’t really have been a suprise. Heidi Widdop has a voice that goes from Alison Goldfrapp to Janis Joplin, and lead guitarist Martin Ledger made a strong impression with his melodic and powerfully atmospheric style.

Cloud Atlas album launch at Tokyos in York

Cloud Atlas have quite a few more gigs in the pipeline, including an appearance at the Cambridge Rock Festival at the beginning of August. They are going to be a band to watch.

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Cloud Atlas album launch – New Venue

Cloud Atlas have moved their launch gig on Saturday 28th June to a different venue. The gig is now at Tokyos on Toft Green, York.

The original venue, Fibbers, is temporarily closed because of a dispute between the venue and the landlord.  As it says on the Fibbers Facebook page:

Due to a longstanding dispute with the landlord, Fibbers is TEMPORARILY closed but we expect this to be resolved AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!

Since “as soon as possible” may well not include “by Saturday night“, moving the gig does sound like the only possible option.

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Cloud Atlas – Beyond the Vale

Cloud Atlas - Beyond The ValeHome to Mostly Autumn, Halo Blind and Heather Findlay’s various projects, York has been a centre of progressive and contemporary classic rock for quite a few years now, and Cloud Atlas are the latest in a string of excellent bands to emerge from the city.

Cloud Atlas is the band formed by former Stolen Earth, Breathing Space and Mostly Autumn vocalist Heidi Widdop. The band features Martin Ledger on guitar, one-time musical partner with Heidi in the duo The Secrets, a rhythm section of Neil Scott and Mostly Autumn alumni Stu Carver, and Dave Randall on keys. As is becoming increasingly common nowadays, the band crowdfunded the album with a pre-order campaign.

The album begins with two and half minutes of eastern-sounding atmospherics, with electronic drones, wordless wailing vocals and controlled guitar feedback. Then Martin Ledger’s guitar riff hits you right between the eyes and “Searchlight” explodes into a powerful rocker with a great bluesy soulful vocal. It ends with Martin Ledger cutting loose with a glorious extended solo. The effect is Janis Joplin fronting The Cult circa “Sonic Temple” with Steve Rothery on lead guitar. And that’s just the opening song.

The acoustic guitar and breathy vocals at the beginning of “Siren Song” recall the fragile beauty of Goldfrapp’s last album before building into another atmospheric rocker flavoured with Martin Ledger’s e-bowed guitar. The over-ambitious “Let The Blood Flow” is the one song on the record that doesn’t quite work; the hard-rocking opening part is great but it loses it’s way with its awkward middle section, and the whole thing comes out sounding disjointed.

But we’re back on track with with two following numbers, the length, brooding “Falling” and the piano-led “The Grieving”. Instrumental passages in both recall recent Marillion, especially the minor-key piano chords leading into Martin Ledger’s overdriven solo at the beginning of the latter.

The final part of the album includes two real highlights, the big epic “Stars” with its memorable hook, and atmospheric ballad “Journey’s End” with some beautiful cello playing from Sarah Pickwell, after which the acoustic “I’ll Take Care of You” forms a coda for the album.

Heidi’s distinctive vocals set them apart from many of their obvious peers, but this album’s sound is as much about Martin Ledger’s soaring melodic lead guitar. There are still a few echoes of Heidi’s previous band Stolen Earth, and anyone still missing that band should find a lot to like about Cloud Atlas.

It’s big widescreen rock with an epic scope, with just one song under seven minutes and some stretching to nine or ten. It may be that some songs might have benefited from slightly tighter arrangements, but the music still feels as though it’s likely to come across very powerfully live. It amounts to an impressive début from the latest addition to their home city’s already strong roster of bands.

The band will be launching the album at Fibbers in York on June 28th, and the album can be ordered from http://www.cloudatlas.org.uk/webstore.htm

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Cloud Atlas announce venue for Album Launch

Cloud Atlas BandCloud Atlas’ launch gig for their much-awaited début album “Beyond the Vale” will be at Fibbers in York on Saturday 28th June.

Everyone who’s pre-ordered the album already has an invite for this gig. For those who haven’t pre-ordered, ticket are now on sale.

From the venue’s announcement:

Misused that phrase, ‘progressive rock’, isn’t it? To the uninformed or out-of-touch it conjures images of Rick Wakeman in a cape or Peter Gabriel with a flower round his head.

But it’s so much more than that, has moved with the times and is in good hands with the likes of Heidi Widdop and her new band CLOUD ATLAS.

From early days with Mostly Autumn and progression with ill-fated projects Breathing Space and Stolen Earth, our heroine has shown a steely determination to settle for nothing but the best. Not just the musicians surrounding her but also songwriting, arrangement and putting on a great show!

Inspired by a photograph of the sky one morning, the name Cloud Atlas seemed to be perfect, summing up the mystery and unpredictable nature of Heidi’s musical journey.

Sweeping soundscapes, sometimes dark but always intriguing and full to bursting with melody and atmosphere, this is ‘prog rock’ at its finest, it’s most up-to-date and, quite frankly, bloody fantastic.

Support will be the talented Plumhall, who supported Stolen Earth on a number of oocasions.

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Cloud Atlas announce date of launch gig

Heidi Widdop

Cloud Atlas have announced the date of their album launch gig in York, to which everyone who has pre-ordered the album is invited. The show will be on Saturday 28th June.

The venue will be announced shortly.

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Cloud Atlas confirmed for 2014 Cambridge Rock Festival

The recently-formed York-based progressive rock band have announced on Twitter than they are confirmed for the 2014 Cambridge Rock Festival, joining blues-rock guitarist Larry Miller in the acts announced to date.

The 2012 festival marked the debut of Stolen Earth, Heidi Widdop’s previous band, and the year before was her first gig fronting Breathing Space, the final lineup of which morphed into Stolen Earth a few months later.

Cloud Atlas are currently in the studio working on their debut album, for which they are still taking pre-orders.

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