It’s previous midnight and DJ Mag is roaming across the grounds of a former jail within the arse-end of Amsterdam. We’re right here with Clouds, a younger Scottish duo who, over the previous half-decade, have scorched their title into the techno scene by way of a mixture of uniquely detailed productions and blunt pressure trauma DJ units.
The pair have been initially purported to carry out on the Bijlmerbajes jail complicated and, though the gig was sadly cancelled, we’ve made the journey anyway so as to get some suitably dystopian photographs for this piece. Unfortunately, as with seemingly all over the place in Amsterdam, the builders obtained right here first, and discovering a gritty backdrop is proving nigh-on unimaginable — goddamn gentrification. There’s additionally been one other complication; the boys have introduced alongside a banner roughly 10-foot excessive by 20-foot broad, and discovering someplace to hold it has seen Liam Robertson and Calum Macleod drag round constructing gear and scale a delivery container and the partitions of a basketball court docket.
Why go to all this hassle? Well, the banner is the ultimate piece of a mission nearly two years within the making — an exquisitely printed part of the gnarly, bit-crushed paintings that accompanies their new album ‘Heavy The Eclipse’ for Speedy J’s Electric Deluxe label. To name it mere paintings, nonetheless, and even to say it’s simply an album, is to do a disservice to Clouds and their collaborator, graphic designer David Rudnick. What the trio have created is a world, a hellish imaginative and prescient of a future actuality twisted past restore, and but not as far as to grow to be unrecognisable.
To borrow instantly from the mission’s devoted web site (a slow-scrolling story, offered in Eight-bit textual content that feels prefer it may very well be the start of a misplaced DOOM recreation): “After quite a few waves of social collapse, Glasgow, a as soon as affluent metropolis, had run to waste in lawless smash. The metropolis handed into the fingers of a German-speaking conglomerate, who integrated the territory into a brand new civic entity: Neurealm.” The company constructed a rail community — Caledonia New Realm — in an try and revive Glasgow. However, after a drug referred to as klaw was launched to the neighborhood, all hell broke free, and the town devolved into three gang factions who now use the practice strains to homicide, pillage and wreak havoc on one another and their environment. There’s the Dark Leviathan Krew (‘junkie scum’ who loot the town to supply for his or her behavior), the Onslaught Ash Krew (a brutal paramilitary pressure devoted to killing addicts), and the Cold Eye Krew (a cult of evacuated residents who've turned to paganism and blood sacrifice). In this rotten world, the one pleasure comes within the type of huge multi-day raves, and the one hope is the hearsay of, “an avenging angel, a Joan of Arc, a rave goddess” named Eclipser, who lives beneath the town and is destined to carry an finish to the horror.
It’s an extremely in-depth plot that we are able to’t actually do justice to in our fast abstract right here (learn the total script at neurealm.web), supported by a number of meticulously crafted pictures and a full rail map. It’s outlandish and thrilling, but in addition terrifyingly relatable in a world the place armed troops can storm the dancefloor at Bassiani membership, governments and companies can come out unscathed from tragedies similar to Grenfell, the media can whip the general public right into a frenzy, and ecological catastrophe is simply across the nook. Most of all although, ‘Heavy The Eclipse’ is a vastly spectacular feat in a time of disposable music, when the long-player launch format is questioned regularly.
“It’s making a world for individuals to get into,” explains Calum after we chat after our banner-hanging tour. “It’s not one thing you see usually in techno, nowadays at the very least. Maybe a part of the rationale, with issues being so quick with social media, [is that] stuff isn’t round that lengthy for individuals to essentially get into it.”
But this mission feels unimaginable to not get into. The paintings, for example, is strewn with all kinds of graffiti and gang tags with which to let your creativeness run wild, whereas the story itself is simply begging to be was a movie or graphic novel collection. “What I believe is essential is all the things on [the artwork] has which means,” Calum continues. “Because with a variety of paintings you see with information, and generally graphic design, it’s aesthetically pleasing, but it surely’s simply sort of meaningless. It’s sick wanting, however why is it like that? So all the things on there has a connection to the world.”
These tiny but important parts mirror a group of music that's uncooked, chaotic and ruthless. Opener ‘Neurealm «After The Fall»’ seems like an all-out laser-sword bloodbath, ‘Nachtstorm Hardcore’ lives as much as its title by way of a maelstrom of piercing noise and clunky beats, and ‘Skulcoast’ erupts from tense atmosphere right into a savage assault of guerilla breakcore. There are extra historically dancefloor-friendly moments too, within the intense grooves of ‘Clubber’s Guide To Wreaking Havoc’, the rudeboy percussion of ‘Eclipser’ and the harcore epic ‘Parkzicht’, the album’s solely single. There’s even a tribute to an obscure native hero from their time “PC DJing” (principally throwing a great deal of acapellas over Eurodance or joyful hardcore tracks) whereas rising up in Perth, when their now near-symbiotic manufacturing relationship advanced.
At no level might ‘Heavy The Eclipse’ be deemed a straightforward pay attention, but it’s an album that calls for to be listened to, and is definitely a rewarding expertise, made all of the extra spectacular by the truth that the music itself was accomplished in simply two weeks at Speedy J’s studio — a truth Liam believes led to the album’s cohesive vitality and temper.
“We recorded so much on Jochem’s [Speedy J] devices,” he says. “Obviously the set-up in there may be superb, and he’s obtained so many alternative synths. Really costly, mad geeky ones. Plenty of stuff we processed by way of modular stuff, particularly this module referred to as Clouds,” recollects Calum, chuckling on the unintentional hyperlink. “But all the things was put collectively in Ableton, that’s how we’ve at all times carried out stuff. I believe that’s the place a variety of the element and chaos comes from.”
He explains that they have an inclination to not over-edit or tidy up their samples, leaving the ends tough so as to add to the hectic ambiance. “I believe we typically strive onerous to make it sound worse, by leaving the little bits in,” smiles Liam. “Like usually you’d assume, ‘Oh that doesn’t sound correct, I’ll do away with that’.” Calum cuts in: “If one thing doesn’t sound correct, it’s often an excellent factor”.