Album Review: Cloudkicker - 'Little Histories EP'

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Cloudkicker is the moniker Ben Sharp uses for his one-man studio project, but don't let the "bedroom studio" factor dissuade you, because Little Histories, Sharp's new EP, doesn't sound anywhere close to the half-baked guitar riffs and EZDrummer patterns that that term invokes.??

Sharp has slowly been moving away from the "djent"ish territory of his breakthrough album, Beacons, for a little while now, settling into post/instrumental rock with a slight metallic edge. It's not, a genre somewhat reliant on consistent crushing heaviness, as that descriptor would imply.

What Sharp does is make really pleasant and atmospheric music, and then hits you with riffs that seem more appropriate to air guitar to than to sit back and appreciate their texture. ??

"Digital Lighting" is a perfect example of this kind of thing.

The song starts with a slow build, which, in post-rock terms, would be a set-up for, you know, the same thing but louder.

Instead Sharp sees it as an opportunity for an angular math-rock passage that sounds quite a bit like Blood Mountain-era Mastodon.

??"Sky Guide" features what might be vocals (or maybe a sample?) run through a vocoder.

Paired with the guitars and drums (which sound very organic for being programmed), you can barely hear it in the mix the first time around, but once it becomes apparent, it asserts itself as one of Little Histories' better moments.??

Unfortunately, while Little Histories sounds good all the way through, the familiar post-rock criticisms can be applied to it: too much atmosphere, too little urgency.

But considering that Sharp repeatedly makes clear that Cloudkicker is not a professional band and that he "does Cloudkicker after [he] does all other things" and the EP, like the rest of the Cloudkicker albums, is free, this is entirely forgivable.