New Music: Clouds Become Oceans’ ‘Paths’

Life is a journey and there are many pathways to be explored. For most people – even the most artistic of folks – adventure plays second fiddle to the mainstream. ‘Paths,’ the freshman album from Clouds Become Oceans, is the work of an emerging experimental artist who chooses to take the road less travelled.

Scott Miller, the mind behind Clouds Become Oceans, hails from Quispamsis, an offshoot community of Saint John. A definite passion project, he plays all instruments himself, with the exception of a few guest contributions.

Miller’s dreamy solo debut, sharply diverges from his normal gig as the resident guttural banshee (aka; lead singer) of the popular grindcore band, Anthesis. Metal, it is not… instead, this is a genre breaking exercise in indie, jazz infused instrumentals, sans a single one of Scott’s signature siren-esque shrieks.

The closest that we come to anything that could be possibly described as aggression, is ‘Mistress’ which is still, sombre at best. My favourite from the album, the song displays ever so subtle hints of a hard hitting musician lurking under the surface. The percussion is purposeful, almost jarring, but meaningful.

Tracks like the opener ‘Possibilities Gone,’ and ‘Transfusions,’ (an 8 minute behemoth) sound like they are directly plucked from the soundtrack of an indie travel film; loosely (obviously) inspired by extreme adoration for Jack Kerouac’s classic highway hoppin’ novel, On The Road. I can imagine a montage scene of the movie’s would-be protagonists doing drugs, getting intimate, being downright whacky, and in between it all, cruising – always speeding while they cheer at nothing – down conveniently barren streets.

‘Distances’ has some guitar centric moments that made me think Miller was going to bust into an indie rock anthem. Alas, my ears are conditioned to expect vocals. Throughout the album I found myself often anticipating a catchy chorus, but for every buildup, I was rewarded with a drop off that grounded my sensibilities in pools of low key serenity. ‘Purpose’ reminded me of the girl-pop that I adore. Certainly, there were times that the stylings of Grimes, Emily Haines (Metric) or Karen’O (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) would have flawlessly blended with the harmonies in the most organic of ways.

‘Paths’ is full of sleeper arrangements – sneaking up on you, creeping into your consciousness. ‘Equinox,’ a very slow entry, is painfully pretty. I channel connotations of a pagan solstice ritual, paying tribute to the position of the sun. ‘Separation Anxiety’ contains a whispering voice that strikes me as overly feminine, though it is credited to one, Joe Egan. I envision mosquitos swarming like lemmings towards a bug zapper.

Impending doom has never sounded so sublime.

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