At some point (I’d like to think I’m not alone here), I started to dive down the djent rabbit hole. I don’t remember what started that dive, but I stumbled across one of three key albums. Not sure which came first, but it was probably either One by TesseracT or Periphery by Periphery. Something about the down tuned, palm muted, chugging sound got to me.
I’d heard Meshuggah, having listened to them since Nothing dropped years before. But for some reason, I hadn’t tied them to the whole djent thing. And, frankly, I still don’t. Meshuggah is Meshuggah. Honestly, they stand on their own.
As part of that dive into djent, I found a blog with a whole host of recommendations. And there, they mentioned Cloudkicker. A one man project, releasing music on Bandcamp, I promptly went and started checking out Ben’s music. There were a number of EPs, and one full length previously release. And then there was Beacons.
This is instrumental music. Some people have a hard time with instrumental music, for reasons that continue to evade me. I’ve pretty much always loved instrumental music, both with a love of classical music (Baroque music especially), but also because of my love of Rush growing up. Songs like “YYZ”, “La Villa Strangiato”, and others were some of my favorites. And now, here was more guitar driven instrumental music. I ate it up.
Disclaimer: I’m not sure that I would, personally, toss Cloudkicker into the djent camp, but I think that label is pretty stupid anyway.
Nonetheless, what we have on Beacons is guitar heavy, instrumental music, with loads of dynamics. Yes, there are heavy, chugging sections. But these are balanced by clear, non-distorted guitars, quite passages, and moments that build strong atmosphere. Beacons just flows, right from start to finish. It tells a story through the music and the titles. The beauty of instrumental music is that it affords each person to create their own story.
It is the flow of Beacons that creates such a powerful narrative. It feels less like a collection of songs, and really harkens back to the idea of a whole composition, with each song more of a movement. While there aren’t necessarily recurring motifs throughout the album, it still has a cohesive feel that permeates all the tracks. The playing is excellent, Ben is a wonderful guitarist. Much of the other instruments are programmed, but surprisingly don’t really feel like it. This really has to do with the strength of the writing and just how engaging it is.
I love pretty much all Cloudkicker albums. But Beacons stands apart. It is a powerful piece of music that still feels fresh, engaging, and powerful. It is an emotional journey, and an album I recommend to everyone without hesitation.