Cloudfish is a duo with vocals and violin based in the Netherlands. They do a mix of songs and improvisation, with a view to atmosphere and emotions, as the record company says. The duo consists of Hartog Eysman on vocals and Jasper le Clercq on violin, effects and loops. And we are served 14 improvised "stretches" that vary greatly in musical landscape and mood.
And they start with "Berlin", a nice and surprising song where violin and rhythms are the dominant, before we get "A Light Inside", where the vocals also come in, but not as another jazz vocalist, but with sounds that can be heard like wind in the beginning over a fine violin playing. And when the vocals come in, I feel like we're suddenly in a market in North Africa. There is a good background for the slightly melancholic vocals, and there is no doubt that we are a good distance away from Kultuurwerkplaats Oosterbeek in the Netherlands in the music that is presented. Typical North African percussion comes in as the violin dances around in a slightly free landscape.
"Patience Is A Liar", continues a bit in the same landscape, mostly due to the rhythmic in the song where you use the typical North African rhythms under contrasting violin and vocals.
And so it continues with exciting, relatively short songs, where the violin and vocals spin around each other in a fascinating way. The music seems simple and almost a little naive in some of the songs, but all the way this is beautiful and exciting.
The two musicians have almost developed a sixth sense in the interaction, which all the way reacts to each other's small plays. And where the songs and the "adventure" take them, it almost seems like a surprise to themselves.
The result is like a movie, made of sound. Textures and layers are created by Le Clercq's violin playing and effects. Sometimes it is minimalist, with small motifs that color the silence. Sometimes it's more dramatic, with rhythms and melodies that build up to a kind of climax. The original songs mixed with improvisation create a musical landscape that is always changing and that is very fascinating. It can be quiet and intimate, dramatic or jubilant.
The vocals of Hartog Eysman can at times be a bit reminiscent of Robert Wyatt combined with a voice one hears mesmerizingly in a North African market, taken home to the Netherlands and "retold" to good friends at "home". Other times he messes with residents over an almost Lourie Anderson violin playing. All the way, I feel it is Jasper le Clercq's violin playing that "lays the groundwork" for how the result should be. His relatively minimalist playing, beautifully paired with sober effects and loops, makes this a recording that is intimate, emotional and sensitive, while at the same time it is occasionally characterized by pure joy.
They already ask in the title the question of whether this is art. Maybe that's a way to get people to want to check out the music. But after listening to me through the record a few times, I have no doubt at all. This is art, at a high level, from two more extremely exciting musicians from the Netherlands.
An exciting and, not least, surprising recording from two clear and exciting voices from the Dutch, improvised music.