“I need just a little time to sing you a line you won’t soon forget,” Carter Tanton sings on opener “Murderous Joy”. And you won’t soon be able to forget Freeclouds. Content to embrace his role as a frontman, Freeclouds delves into myriad sounds, each track’s ideals differing from the next. While Tanton has crafted an extensive history of past collaborations, including work with album guest Marissa Nadler and his time with the Lower Dens, Freeclouds is a lasting effort all his own.
Inspired by David Bowie’s “Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud”, Tanton pays proper homage, marking his own efforts with a similar transfixing intimacy. It’s a deceiving turn of events with opener “Murderous Joy” setting the stage for an album of spirited strumming led by Tanton’s pure tenor. As the album progresses, we realize how much Tanton truly intends to explore, in the process uncovering an album of scattered identity. Tanton considers it all, from dreamy pop melodies swelling with the addition of Nadler’s airy vocals (“Fake Pretend”) to whisper-y folk (“In Knots”) and a befitting Sparklehorse cover (“Saturday”).
The best of these varied explorations come in the way of experimental lo-fi, with fuzz due in part to the chosen recording space of Tanton’s apartment. “Gauze of Song” is an interpretation of title, as a soft-spoken chorus is draped in a hazy echo, drawn out to match the subtle inclusion of piano. Not all of Freeclouds‘ lo-fi comes so quietly. With “Horoscope”, listeners are treated to a heavy dosage of noise, jangly guitar, and drums controlled to back bursts of vocals.
Where Tanton’s sound may head with future efforts remains mysterious, but Freeclouds examines every possibility. Even with such varied ideas, Tanton maintains a careful balance, resulting in a fully realized album.
Essential Tracks: “Murderous Joy” , “Fake Pretend” , and “Horoscope”