We got into the Clouds are Ghosts while deconstructing their band name. It was clear when we heard their work that the band was good, we compared them to Legendary Pink Dots and the Irrespressibles and that is some of our highest praise. The only problem we ever had with their output was that the whole thing seemed quite unfocused, like fire in zero gravity. It's pretty, but the center just didn't hold.
Still, we held out hopes for the band, and when singer Jason Morris dropped us a line saying that a new EP was on the horizon we perked up. Harbinger takes all our previous complaints about a scattershot approach and throws them out the window. Not the band's sound is as focused as a sniper rifle, and just as deadly.
All the spaciness and parallel dimensions remain in the work, but now we find ourselves actually sucked into their world rather than just watching passively from the side. From the very first moment that "The Welcoming" starts you are instantly hooked. The paranoid anthem has an epic span, arching across the audio ionosphere with whispers of possessed wave lengths and a hope of some kind of better future for whatever it is mankind eventually becomes.
Sometimes as we're listening to the album, and we're on our fourth go-round as we speak, we get the feeling that there is a lesson here that is very important, but that still eludes us. It's like we're the people in the Day the Earth Stood Still and we just haven't got what it takes to listen to Michael Rennie. Morris's cry of "Your light shines brightest when you're honest," is likely to go just as unheeded in this world as Klaatu's was, but hopefully we won't shoot him over it.
The Clouds are Ghosts is a band that exists through a haphazard process of negation. It's survived more personnel changes than Megadeth, and somehow at the end of all those shifts the final product is something as tight as a military squadron. Harbinger is a love letter to the parts of us that Bill Hicks always encouraged us to listen to; the place inside us that knows that space awaits our presence. All we can hope is that amidst all the Jersey Shore and Katy Perry we're beaming out into the ether than when the aliens tune into Channel Earth that they hear this first.
We sat down with Morris to talk about Harbinger. Click on over to page 2 to read.
Rocks Off: When we first ran across you guys we thought you were all over the place stylistically. Now your style seems a lot more cohesive and poppier. What do you think has been the biggest factor in the evolution of your sound?
Jason Morris: Well, up until I read this question, I truly thought the opposite... I feel as if these days we're trying a little bit of everything in a way we never did before, so I'm sort of stumped. The biggest changes stylistically though, regardless of our different stances, can definitely be contributed to adding live drums and bass. It made everything much more tangible and not so ambient.
RO: We're big fans of EPs because they tend to feel like very tight musical short stories. What tale are you telling here?
JM: This is the tale of how to stay focused on what you want regardless of what's happening around you. Staying together through this EP was a big challenge for everyone. We lost two members in the process, but the core four stayed intact. I think we're stronger as a result.
RO: "Harbinger" means warning or omen, what do we have to fear?
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JM: There seems to be a trend not to think. People just wake up and go. They go to work, they go to the bar, and they go to bed. People rarely stop and think about important issues and important bonds in life and that is what really gives you quality of life worth living.
RO: The last time we talked we were deconstructing your band name, and we discussed how what is darkness can also be light. Is that a concept you think comes through on Harbinger? There is something strangely hopeful about it.
JM: Definitely. All of our songs sound dark and it's not something we do on purpose, it's just what comes out, but overall, we're a band that is just happy to be creating and love what we do.
Harbinger is available for any price you wish at the Clouds are Ghosts bandcamp.