Cloud – “Zen Summer”

Typically when we listen to an album from front to back it’s because we want to be taken on a journey. Things need to be held together with a common thread, while at the same time differentiating themselves from one another significantly enough that we want to keep listening without tuning out. I think that, for me at least, this is the ideal of what an album should be. Unfortunately, that is no easy task for any artist.

Cloud, the recording project of on Tyler Taormina, does manage to do just that though. Across the expansive album that is “Zen Summer” we are taken to several different but interconnected places. From the all out rock of “Sunshine Psych” that moves nicely into the piano ballad buried beneath a wall of noise that is “Mantra One.”

And on “Mantra One” Taormina’s voice calls to mind that of Panda Bear. Even some of the same melodic nuances are there, fitting in perfectly amongst the glitchy electronics and backwards looping guitar tracks. Naturally this track flows neatly right into “Luana,” creating a suite of more or less piano based pop tunes.

Later with “Electrical Smile” the guitar begins to play a bit more of a central role, with its slow slide-guitar descending glissando connecting each of the harmony changes. Continuing through the next phase of the title track breaks everything down to ambiance, while “Tastes Bad” continues to place the focus on the guitar. In my opinion though, the best track of this section of the album, and the best track on the album, is “Sleepy Giant Speak.”

The sound of “Sleepy Giant Speak” combines all the elements of the album to this point; the octave jumping melodic contours, the fuzzed out wall of guitar noise, and the gentle piano just barely heard through it all. “Sleepy Giant Speak” manages to capture the feeling of continual expansion, striving toward some distant goal. It’s great to hear that song, and all the tracks on “Zen Summer” really, continually reach for that distant goal because it makes us all want to continue listening and to continue on that journey through the album.

“Zen Summer” was released on Paper Trail Records back in April, but is still available on very limited yellow vinyl that can be found on Paper Trail’s bandcamp page.