28th October 2015 – Self-released
01. Intro to Woum
02. Trim Splint
In any discussion of the legions of guitarists quietly beavering away, producing and releasing music from their bedrooms, talk will quickly turn to Cloudkicker. Alongside the likes of Plini and Chimp Spanner, Cloudkicker (or Ben, to his mum) has firmly established himself in the Premier League of this burgeoning scene of DIY soloists. Or Do-It-All-Yourself, I suppose. Keeping up his steadily prolific output rate, Woum represents the 13th release under the Cloudkicker moniker since 2007. Impressive.
Like both Plini and Chimp, Cloudkicker has also been able to enlist some showbiz pals to help bring his music to the stage. Intronaut acted as his backing band on a short run of dates in 2014, and whilst there are no further dates in the diary at this stage, we live in hope.
Woum slips comfortably into the wealth of music already available through Cloudkicker’s Bandcamp page, both in form and content. It is a relatively short release, albeit one that is closer to ‘mini-album’ than ‘EP’, with seven tracks, including a couple of short interludes, clocking in at just under half an hour. After a bit of a dalliance with physical media, Woum also sees Cloudkicker releases revert – for the moment – to being digital only. Clearly, Ben was concerned about ending up spending more time as a shopkeeper than a musician.
Woum sits at the mellow end of Cloudkicker’s sonic spectrum, full of warm, clean tones that bring to mind a similar vibe to a stripped back and simplified Heights. However, there’s also a bit more sonic manipulation in the mix, especially evident in “Emfargo” and outro piece “Mou“, which has just a touch of Nordic Giants about it. More often than not, two or more guitar lines interweave to create delicate, chiming soundscapes.
So far, so good. However, no matter how pretty the ideas on offer in Woum are on first listen, the release quickly begins to feel rather insubstantial. The tracks have more of an air of a work-in-progress, waiting to be developed and finessed. Repeatedly, songs seem to begin and end without really going anywhere in the middle. This is a desperate shame, as there are many genuinely lovely moments lurking in Woum, but they do not feel like they have been crafted into anything more than a loose collection of vignettes where one might expect a more absorbing narrative.
Ultimately, Woum is damned with the faint praise of being ‘good background music’. It’s a pleasant enough collection of sounds, especially for a late night after a long day, but there’s simply not enough here to warrant giving the tracks your full and undivided attention for any more than a couple of spins. Pity. At least, given Cloudkicker’s work rate, we probably won’t have to wait too long for the next instalment.