The Berkeley based ensemble Cloud Shepherd has spent the last few years quietly crafting some of the most unique improvised music around, but have somehow managed to elude the sort of critical or grassroots acclaim they so seriously deserve (perhaps, in part, due to the fact that their recorded output has dramatically outweighed the number of records they have released).
This latest recording should hopefully help remedy that situation...
Evoking some kind of kosmische jazz seance, the shepherds lay down billowing layers of flute, theremin, percussion (including Mark Pino's mysterious Cloud Kit array), and waterphone over what one might consider more typical jazz instruments in spectral waves of improvised sound. Bassist Brian Lucas (also of psychedelic free-rock guerrillas Dire Wolves) grounds everything with a bed of pulsing electric bass, helping to maintain a semblance of solidity even across the record's more ethereal moments. Though one can certainly identify elements of the 1960s avant-garde jazz pioneers in their work, Cloud Shepherd's make up has far more to do with the sublime anarchy of natural cycles than the kind of urban fire music you might expect from such disciples.
Xenoglossia comes highly recommended if you like the idea of Anthony Braxton and Terry Riley collaborating on Midori Takada's Through the Looking Glass. In fact if that last sentence had any meaning for you whatsoever then I'd recommend grabbing this tape post haste, cause you definitely will not be disappointed.
released July 2, 2014
Cloud Shepherd is: Andrew Joron on theremin, Brian Lucas on bass, Joseph Noble on sax and bamboo flutes, and Mark Pino on Cloud Kit percussion and waterphone.