cloud container’s approach to sound is inquisitive – he refreshes the tested formula of lofi hip hop by exploring music’s fundamentals.
“ps2” buzzes and hums along like a stray mosquito, tormented by lights flickering behind glass. By its creator’s description it’s a power noise piece, and while “ps2” travels with subtle pulsing energy it carries with it the essence of electricity. Each low frequency either surges yet lower into a scrape or rips higher with a spark or a buzz, the signifiers of power. Something untame stirs in this track, a provoking tree of clicking rhythms and distortion; there are the makings of a beat insofar as noises repeat, this music is threadbare, unpainted, fundamental.
“pure sound”, the August 2021 release from Russian artist cloud container, is where “ps2” makes its home. Across three tracks cloud plays with musical atoms, arranging small masses of sound into something half-recognisable as percussion. Managing this is an achievement in arrangement. At times the dark, hilly journey can feel quite serene, with simple pleasure found in interrogating a dissonance or finding a humming valley to lay in. On cloud container’s subsequent release, “spb”, he picks up a far wider variety of pieces to manipulate and order. The monochrome skills developed in “pure sound” are given a playground of musical colour.
“spb” arrives as one continuous track, a string of economical lofi beats that stick to necessary components, adding flair through interesting arrangement. In the sixth and seventh minutes, samples trigger on rapid loops as stylish percussion fills the underlying space. Creative groupings of rhythm and collected sounds give the image of the producer really enjoying themselves, getting imaginative with the options at hand. “spb”, while far from thoughtless, is anything but overwrought – each beat thrives in the vintage energy of soul and jazz samples, made new by combination with other material. cloud container’s most exceptional skill is the way he makes you feel each stitch as he sews these parts together. Harmonics clash and drums fight for space to create imperfection that passes light charm, becoming genuinely engaging.
Other evidence of the “pure sound” mindset also make themselves known. Around the twelve minute mark a particularly coiled sample begins to unravel and stagger with resonant results. “spb” even begins with a pleasantly uncontrolled rain of electronic bells. Even in a fairly minimalist setting cloud retains an appreciation for chance, which gives the piece a curious sense of movement.
Lofi hip hop is (in)famous for its ever-presence, so it’s really refreshing to see it from a new angle. cloud container’s very public experiments give him control of his music’s context, which forges a narrative from one release to the next. “pure sound” and “spb” are wildly different and forever linked.
-Jamie (Managing Editor @108MICS)