- Arbortorium EP (released March, 2011)
- Live From The Office(released July 25, 2013)
- We're Just Making Sound (released June 8, 2012)
"The opening track of Live from the Office by post-rock band When Clouds Collide kicks in the album with a sample of the late John F. Kennedy in his famous moon speech. It sets an ambitious tone to the album. The duo from New Jersey seem to be saying that they want to take you on a trip that transcends the world you live on. Those few opening lines being the only spoken words to refer to on the album, the theme doesn’t quite play out through the entirety of the album, but some cohesive song titles play on the same theme.
Indeed most post-rock music seems to be an attempt to lull you into a trance of sorts. Typical song structure includes an opening motif as a simple rendition of a chord progression that permeates the song from start to finish. If you’re the sort that tends to prefer ambitious tonal progressions and melodic embellishment this band probably isn’t for you. Once the theme is set the real meat of the song begins. It becomes an expression of dynamic expression and textural exploration as layer upon layer is piled on top of the theme. These layers shift and morph, recede and explode back into the mix, while never straying too far from the original idea.
When Clouds Collide are nothing wildly different than what you might’ve heard already if you’re a fan of the genre. The only timbres you’re likely to pick out are electric guitar with a myriad of effects, some sampled sounds, and, of course, the drums. This might be a technical limitation, but it leaves a want for something more. In preparation for this review I listened to some of my favorite work within post rock including bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and Silver Mt. Zion, and both bands tend to delve deeper into the less expected aspect of texture. While this might be an unfair comparison to draw, it came immediately to mind upon every repeated listen of Live from the Office.
That’s not to imply that the band doesn’t have talent. Their use of dynamics comes off as the most daring aspect of their music, but their instruments are deftly played, the production is top-notch, and the composition of the sparse instrumentation they do use is, even at its least spectacular, consistently competent.
Every song seems to have moments of clarity, moments that fully realize their vision. Moments that stick in my mind are the morphing, swirling effects that introduce the album after the Kennedy speech section and the opening lines of inverted guitar in Exosphere which is in turned followed by some of the very best percussive moments on the entire album. For the most part the tracks seem appropriately drawn out to fully explore the possibilities of each theme, with the exception of Apollo, which may be a tad overlong even for those who’ve come to expect as much from post-rock.
Overall, Live from the Office will be a welcome visit to outer-space, particularly for fans of the genre. It might even be a great introduction for those that aren’t accustomed to the unique charms of post-rock. However, I can’t help but feel like I should encourage them to try more exploration. If there was a wider verity of instrumentation, heavier focus on unique chord progression, bolder use of sampled sounds and effects, and less reliance on traditional song structure I feel this album would have a bigger impact on myself, and more importantly, on those long time fans of post-rock who yearn for new band to rattle things up within the genre.