Cloudkicker – Live with Intronaut

Nautkicker

Intronaut step up to bring one of Metal’s finest bedroom projects out on to the stage.


Hats off to noodle-metallers Intronaut for not being content to stand by and let Cloudkicker stay behind closed doors. Ben Sharp has been working under that moniker since 2007, putting out meticulously crafted and produced instrumental metal up for anyone to grab on the internet and gathering a large set of admirers despite never touring. Whilst he could likely have carried on doing that happily it would have been crying shame if it never had it’s moment under the stage lights. However it’s a risky move for an already established band to take on – translating such a complex and massive sound for the live arena must have been a daunting task and failure to pull it off convincingly would have been embarrassing for both parties. Thankfully they’re more than up to the job – they’ve managed to bring Cloudkicker’s Devin Townsend-esque wall of guitar noise out intact. Which is no mean feat – Sharp’s is an approach which sees sledgehammer riffs, accentuated by the precision of the drums behind every chord and lifted by the textured lead guitar and synth washes, smashing home with such intensity and focus that it produces something transcendental. There’s an odd meditative quality after a while – an all encompassing nature to the maelstrom, a calmness at the eye of the storm that carries over into the live arena surprisingly well.

 

Which isn’t to say it’s translated perfectly. The drums struggle at the more intense moments – understandable, as translating the sometimes awkward programmed beats was always going to be the hardest job. On We’re going in, we’re going down in particular they get themselves into trouble. There’s a moment early on when the song almost gets away from all of them, where the queesy effect of a band sounding like it’s over itself interrupts the blissed feeling, and during the frantic midpoint they can’t quite keep up and resort to some generic metal double-kick action instead of attempting do what Sharp programmed accurately – but then you’d probably need to be an ungodly Vishnu/Ginger Baker hybrid to pull that off. Thankfully they pull it back together, and whilst one of my personal favourite tracks being one of the least effective here is disappointing it’s admirable that this is only blip.

The rest are almost perfect representations of their recorded counterparts, so much so that what Live with Intronaut ends up being is more of a best of than a live record. The songs do sound a little more warm and human, as you’d expect in their new context, which gives them a slightly different feel to the sometimes cold precision of the records – it’s a matter of musical values which you prefer but for me the versions of Subsume parts 1 and 2 and Dysphoria here may well be their definitive iterations. Thanks to the hardworking Sharps prolific nature Cloudkicker’s bandcamp page might be intimidating for the newcomer, and so Live with Intronaut works well as an introduction to Sharp’s world – and the live framing of familiar tracks shows the familiar songs in a different light. Personally, aside from recordings of bands fond of improvisation or radical reinterpretation, I struggle to see any point to live records – to have one for fans and the unfamiliar alike is pretty impressive.
The only downside to how well Intronaut’s stint as part of Cloudkicker went is that they will inevitably go back to being Intronaut. It would be a shame if Ben Sharp’s music went back to being purely a recorded concern, but now the bar has been set so high that it would be tricky for anyone else to fill their shoes.
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