- Before Clouds, the Amsterdam label Music From Memory was focused on the past. The beachside jazz-funk of Joan Bibiloni's El Sur, the smoky ambient of Leon Lowman's Liquid Diamonds and Gigi Masin's richly affecting Talk To The Sea were all retrospectives, the result of the label's three founders—Abel Nagengast, Jamie Tiller and Tako Reyenga—doing what they do best: rummaging through the catalogues of forgotten artists and picking out the best songs.
Of the label's first three releases, Masin's Talk To The Sea seemed the most remarkable. Here was a largely overlooked Italian composer who had put out some lovely records—his 1986 LP Wind in particular—but had slipped through the cracks of wider appreciation. Talk To The Sea struck a chord with many listeners, including Marco Sterk (AKA Young Marco) and Jonny Nash. Through a combination of serendipity, friendship and some gentle string pulling from Reyenga, the three artists spent a weekend in March of 2014 making music at Sterk's studio in Amsterdam.
Though it was recorded in three days, there's something defiantly unhurried about Clouds. It's an album that forces you to slow down, its pacing gleefully out of step with the frantic rhythm of day-to-day life. "It felt like we'd known each other from a long, long time," Masin told Juno Plus. This sense of togetherness and cohesion courses through the record. Songs like "Talk To The Church" and "Dewdrops" thrive on the barest of elements—Nash's guitar, Sterk's synth work and Masin's mastery of piano chords. The drum machine on "Impossible Island" and "Ride" barely registers a pulse. A burst of trumpet three minutes into "The Longest Road" is about as audacious as the record gets.
The introduction of "Red Light" captures the hum of Amsterdam's red-light district from the window of Sterk's studio. The sounds quietly filter up from the street, which makes the studio—which Sterk vacated immediately after Clouds was recorded—feel like a hidden oasis just beyond the sleaze of Warmoesstraat. Nash says that naming the group "took far longer than making the album." It's a fitting alias. In theory a Gaussian curve stretches off on both sides to infinity: so, too, does this music.
01. Talk To The Church
02. Impossible Island
05. Broken Clouds
07. The Longest Road
08. Red Light