Cloud Control threw away its music-making rulebook

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The transplanted psych-pop alchemists of Cloud Control drew up a clearly defined set of guidelines when they began working on their sophomore album, Dream Cave. The only rule going in was that there would be none.

“I don’t know if you’ve heard our previous record [Bliss Release], but it was much more focused in terms of the territory that we covered,” says drummer Ulrich Lenffer, from a highway in the middle of Alberta, where he’s visiting his girlfriend. “That record was quite limited. We did everything analogue with organic instruments, keeping everything really simple. The attitude going in this time was that there weren’t going to be any rules. And it really kind of worked. There were times when we would pull back and go, ‘No, we can’t do that because of X-Y-Z reasons.’ And then we’d go, ‘Actually, who cares? Let’s try this.’ ”

Dream Cave is a record that isn’t afraid to divert from the main script. So, as much as Cloud Control sounds like modern descendants of paisley revivalists the Three O’Clock and 100 Flowers on a base level, there’s plenty else going on.

The experimenting starts right off the top, with “Scream Rave” loading up the party with old-time sacred-harp singing, guitar-hero salvos, and final-frontier synth drifts. Cloud Control—which includes singer-guitarist Alister Wright, bassist Jeremy Kelshaw, and singer-keyboardist Heidi Lenffer (Ulrich’s sister)—makes no attempt to rein things in from there. “Dojo Rising” is all Sunday-morning Velvets haziness buoyed by Heidi Lenffer’s honey-spun vocals, while “Promises” raises the spectre of a reanimated Lizard King doing absinthe shots with Stereolab. Cloud Control relives Factory Records’ formative years with the gloomy, groove-heavy “Island Living”, and then fucks things up fantastically by throwing an Arabic-guitar breakdown into the middle of the jangle-pop jam “Happy Birthday”.

Dream Cave marks the latest chapter in an ongoing adventure that’s taken Cloud Control from Australia’s Blue Mountains to London, England, a journey that Lenffer is happy his parents have supported, even if he and his sister have yet to experience Coldplay-level success.

“The whole band thing to them has been a pleasant surprise,” the drummer says. “Like, ‘You’re doing what? You’re in a band now? Okay, we’ll come to your shows.’ It’s made them secretly proud. They tell all their conservative friends that we’re in a band and get all kinds of weird looks, which is fun for them.”

Dream Cave has provided plenty more conversation fodder. For a start, there was an early writing session that caused some major friction.

“We holed up in a farmhouse on an island in France, which was fun,” Lenffer offers. “Actually, it was quite tough. It was in a place with lots of holiday homes, and people didn’t appreciate the noise. In their typical French way, they were very passive-aggressive. And then they called the cops.”

Less agitating was the recording of the vocals for the album. Dream Cave features sessions done in an actual cave, located outside of Kent, England.

“We did a lot of research on caves, because when you are recording you want to have things that keep you occupied, rather than just 100 percent music,” Lenffer says. “We drove around looking at all sorts of them. We ended up recording in a massive Roman quarry which had been used for D-Day to house munitions, and where Roman coins were buried in the dust—all sorts of fascinating stuff like that.”

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