Cloud Castle Lake’s Atmospheric Sonics Graced Hotel Cafe REVIEW+PHOTOS: CLOUD CASTLE LAKE @ HOTEL CAFE 1/29/18
HOLLYWOOD, CA- I don’t often head out into Hollywood to catch a band play on a Monday night when my day job has me going crazy with unrelenting deadlines, but I just had a feeling in my gut that I’d find some soul soothing respite if I battled the rush hour traffic to catch Cloud Castle Lake at the Hotel Cafe on January 29th. My instincts proved correct.
Blurred Culture featured the music video for their song “Bonfire” a few months ago. Notwithstanding the beautifully mysterious aesthetics of the video, I was personally moved by the atmospheric sonics of their music. There was something ethereal about the way they arranged the instrumentation and mood of the song, and it served to be enough of an impetus to get me to delve further into their repertoire.
But as impressed as I was with the recordings I was able to find online, nothing compares to hearing this band perform in a live setting. Their live sound was simply breathtaking. Not only did they seem to instinctually feed off one another for musical cues and direction, but they all seemed to share the same emotional breath when they played, creating this organic mood of awe that enveloped you like a warm blanket.
“In school and in college, we all played in different orchestras and ensembles, so that’s kind of influenced some of our playing. A lot of the stuff we do is atmospheric, so it’s not really relying on being really really tight with the time, but more about the overall atmosphere, and an overall vibe.” – Daniel McAuley (keys and lead vocals)
At this performance, Cloud Castle Lake performed songs that have been previously released and several unreleased selections that are contemplated for inclusion on their forthcoming debut album, “Malingerer”. With two horn players accompanying them for their brief tour in the States, their sound was robust and layered and something I could imagine filling a venue 10x the size of the intimate Hotel Cafe.
[Editor’s Note: Even the embedded video clips below do no real justice to the true grandeur of their live sound. Trust me.]
To say I was pleasantly surprised by the majesty of their sound would be an understatement. It was overwhelming in the most wonderful way; a wash of sound that tingled every synapse in your brain with each note. A melding of various musical genres that is truly unique to these chaps from Dublin.
‘When we were younger, a lot of influences would have been Sigor Ros and Radiohead … a lot of post-rock stuff like Godspeed You Black Emporer and Grizzly Bear, but nowadays we kind of want to move away from that. I think the drive to move away from that is the drive for us to write new music. To find something that’s a bit more of our own sound. We’ve been listening to more jazz and electronic … and a lot of modern classical music.” – Brendan William Jenkinson (Keys and guitar)
“It normally starts with the chord or a melody that Dan or Brendan have put together and it’s just kind of fleshed out in the studio. It’s then brought to a different kind of brought into a different kind of either develops into a song or is just kid of a throwaway item that might not make a record.” – Rory O’Conner (Bass)
But what really captured my attention was the pristine counter-tenor voice of Dan McAuley. The way he weaved his voice around the pulsing horns and syncopated rhythms was hypnotic. His mellifluous control of his falsetto reminded me of the way Jeff Buckley sang “Corpus Christi Carol”, and any time you can elicit a Jeff Buckley comparison from me is definitely a good thing. He would laugh later as he was reminded that when he first started singing, he was categorized as a baritone.
As Cloud Castle Lake continues to bring their music to life on stage, I can only image how they’ll evolve. They also seemed to share my sentiment acknowledging that, for the most part, what they do on stage is organic and evolving.
“We look forward to musically developing the set every night. Tonight was the first night of the tour, and I think we’re fairly happy with how it went, but I think we’ll be able to get more and more into the set as we perform it more and more.” – Daniel McAuley (keys and lead vocals)
In spending a few minutes with the gents after their performance, I asked what it was that they looked forward to the most about their current visit and tour of the United States. Dan smiled and bluntly answered, “Cuisine”. Well, hopefully they were able to find some delicious cuisine, as I hope that music lovers were able to find their simply breathtaking music.
— Derrick K. Lee (@methodman13) February 9, 2018
— Derrick K. Lee (@methodman13) February 9, 2018
Derrick K. Lee is a music attorney, blogger, concert photographer and co-owner of Blurred Culture. He goes to a lot of shows and sometimes he writes good. Music is his boo.
All photos are edited with iPhoto. Lightroom edits can be made upon request. For prints and/or approvals for special uses of any photo taken by Derrick, please contact him directly.