Have you ever heard of white noise? Sure you have, it’s kind of a common thing nowadays. What about red noise? Blue noise? Brown noise? Every now and then I will try and listen to something to help me get into a meditative state and my go to has been blue noise. Why? Honestly I can’t say why blue noise has such an appeal to me but there is something calming about it. Why does certain noise have a color representation? Honestly I’ve never really looked into it but it’s something that I need to research because knowledge is power, right? Anyways. I’ve never heard albums utilize colored noise, at least no artist has ever put colored noise in the forefront of the music, until I listened to Mollusk and their third, and apparently final, album “The Cloud Expedition.” It’s the third in a series that explores the limits of space and drone. While this is just the review of the final album, I would encourage everyone from a storyline standpoint to listen to the two previous albums to really understand the themes and motifs that are ever-present through the Cloud Expedition.
Being the third album in the trilogy, many of the themes in the Cloud Expedition are well established. The listener can be put at ease with the familiarity, despite the differences in storytelling. What does the different colored noises do? What is the purpose of the different noises? Each sound effects the listener differently; each sound can help the music express a different emotional state. Why is that important? Especially in an album like this, one that’s not really standard “dark ambient,” the emotional state of the listener is important. The album is meditative, it’s calming but at the same time there is an undercurrent of adventure and exploration (the album is called the Cloud Exploration after all). So what is the story?
The drone is soft and ethereal; it does not force the listener into a state of mind, rather it suggests. The music is subtle but it’s there. The music is beautiful in its own way. Each instrument, distortion, and drone has a special meaning. I felt like I was gearing up for an English paper when I was making my notes for this review. I usually hate it when a paper insists that there is meaning in every little thing in a book so I try to avoid it when writing my analysis of music but in this case I feel like there are special meanings in the little moments of this album. I like staying away from deconstruction because it gets so far into the weeds that often you end up not discussing the actual story.
The story is the most important thing here, but what is the story? The Cloud Expedition could be described as either drone ambient or space ambient and depending on which genre you focus on the story changes.
If you look at the album from a space ambient point of view the story is a physical exploration of space. It’s a mission out into the inky blackness of space, away from the planets, the stars, nebulas, lights, colors, everything. What’s out there? What exists in the places between the lights? Now that’s a story I would love to hear. Look in to the wild expanse and emptiness, what do you see? At the limits of human endurance and imagination, what do we do? That’s what the album is about. That’s where the album begins. It starts with at the edge of imagination, where the album goes is up to the listener. Each sound and instrument means something, the horns the keys, the bells. It all means something; the meaning, though, is completely dependent on the listener. What does a horn mean to you? What do bells signify to you? The sounds shape the adventure, the story. We the listener are actually in complete control of story. What story do you here?
If you look at the album through the lens of drone ambient the story is much more metaphysical. The journey is not a physical one, rather it’s a journey within the listener’s mind. There is just as much to explore within the mind of the listener as there is in space, perhaps more. The journey through the mind is even more dependent on the emotional response of the listener to the sounds. The importance of the color of the sound is expanded a hundred fold. Each sound is even more important. What do you think of red noise? Brown noise? How you see the music, the sound, affects where the album goes, what is explored. It’s not a reality exposing album because that’s not what’s needed here. It’s an album that looks into oneself to explore and become stronger. Strength can be found within us, within our own minds. Know thyself, as they say. What will we find within us? What can we use to build ourselves up?
However, you choose to look at this album, which every perspective you take, one thing that cannot be denied is the absolute power of the Cloud Expedition. It’s a subtle power, a power that is not immediately clear but as the album goes on, as the drones and the noise continues, the power becomes evident. The production is crystal clear; it echoes in an infinite loop. If this is the last album the Mollusk creates, then it’s a damn good way to go out. There are hundreds of journeys to found in this album, through the cosmos and through the human mind. Give it a listen!
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