Mr. Cloudy's Different Lives (Extended Version)

Revised 8/25/09
Written for Resident Advisor

Nighttime on the western border of the vast Russian Federation finds Sergey Barkalov eager to set his mind and machines adrift. His desire to recreate the deep dub climate keeps him awake after a day of work. He answers e-mails sent from across the world to his production alias “Mr. Cloudy,” who appears online as a series of guileless black and white photos and metaphysical phrases: “only that music which goes from soul instead of mind.” Leave it to dub techno producers to make networking pages look tranquil.

“Bewitched,” and “dissolved” in Rhythm & Sound and Deepchord, Mr. Cloudy produced his first self-titled EP for Kyoto_Digital in 2005. Under a Creative Commons license, the files were free yet limited. The Denmark net-label was an important channel for Mr. Cloudy and Daniel Stefanik among others, but had a short life. And for three years after the Mr. Cloudy EP, Sergey was discouraged and somewhat inactive. At times he wonders what he did during those years. To answer, his sound developed “slowly and not forcedly.”

Sergey contributed “Smoke Spring” to Instabil’s “We Are Back” EP in 2008. This was a return to the public domain for Mr. Cloudy and the first commercial release for the Statik Entertainment sub-label. (Earlier Instabil EPs are open source and still available for download.) He also produced two more free digital releases: “Kogda Net / Kogda Est” on Enypnion and the “Long Wandering EP” for cism. However, Sergey sought to substantiate and improve the sound quality of his efforts. So this year, in addition to ZeECc's somber “Sleepy Vigil,” Mr. Cloudy has graduated from MP3 format to CD and vinyl.

Mr. Cloudy’s “Different Lives” is the eighth CD-R from Shoreless Recordings, N├╝rnberg. The label has also featured Brendon Moeller, bvdub and founder Quantec. Each "strictly limited" release has the magnetism of a white label record. “Different Lives” comes in a neutral metal case with little graphic adornment, which suggests the music must speak for itself. And it does. With relaxed continuity, the nine versions allude to the Model 500 “Starlight Remixes” on Echospace.

1 Different Lives
2 Different Lives (Grad_U Remix)
3 Different Lives (March Snow Dub)
4 Different Lives (Space Dub)
5 Different Lives (Grad_U Dub)
6 Different Lives (Silent Dub)
7 Different Lives (Chorus Love Version)
8 Different Lives (Morning Light Version)
9 Different Lives (Sraunus Pinery Version)

“It is deep in subconsciousness,” Sergey says of the title. Over ventilating phase noise, the tonal sweeps of “Different Lives” focus on one musical interval: the third. Oscillation and long delay allow the simple two-note framework a multitude of harmonic possibilities. The album shifts between dynamic and more expansive versions of the original. Most potent is the Silent Dub, clear and bright with stabs and rolling percussion. A combination of deep round kick and a walking bassline, the Space Dub approaches darker dancefloors with the synth figure pitched down, more texture than melody.

The Morning Light Version is true to the descriptor, diffuse and half the tempo of the original. Descending pitches that rattle the lower register assume the pulse. Delay is in constant use, and particularly apparent in the March Snow Dub, as echoes fall into chest cavity bass drum. For three of the mixes Sergey enlisted friends Grad_U and Sraunus of Lithuania. The Grad_U Remix is the fastest at 126 BPM, and tonally dense to the brink of dissonance, while the Grad_U Dub is the most voluminous, exploring the spatial dimensions with a quiet syncopated beat. Sraunus’ reverberant Pinery Version concludes “Different Lives” with distant Lithuanian speech.

Mr. Cloudy’s first album benefits from sameness and intuitive composition. Sergey Barkalov is not overly ambitious, and has never formally studied music. When asked what he’d like to do in the future, he said “I will search for that sound in which I first of all am dissolved.” Mr. Cloudy has several upcoming releases, including two 12”s for Millions Of Moments and a lo-fi album called “Recluse.” For him the scale of the audience is secondary to communication: “Let it be 2-3 persons who feel it also as I.”


Firecracker Freakshow

Recorded 7/3/09 at Hammerstein Ballroom, NYC


Mass ART

Kirk Degiorgio: Mass (Applied Rhythmic Technology) July 2009


New Sublabel: Clone Basement Series

Click photos for audio

Mike Dehnert:
Umlaut2, Levon Vincent Remix
(Clone Basement Series 01) August 2009

A Made Up Sound [2562]: Archive
(Clone Basement Series 02) August 2009

Vinyl at clone.nl / Download on whatpeopleplay.com



Various Artists: And Suddenly It's Morning (Smallville Records) CD

Listen: Julius Steinhoff - Something Like Wonderful / Christopher Rau - Childhood / Lowtec - meandyou.dub / Steinhoff & Hammouda with Dionne - Touch / Move D & Benjamin Brunn - In the Beginning / Sven Tasnadi - Winter / Bon & Rau - Cloverleaf Days / Lawrence - Don't Forget / Dimi Angelis & Jeroen Search - Our Live With The Wave / STL - Neurotransmitting Clouds on the Secret Freeway


Mr. Cloudy's Different Lives

Click here for audio samples

Mr. Cloudy is Sergey Barkalov from Russia and his "Different Lives" is the eighth exquisite CD from Shoreless Recordings, Germany. The deep ambient and dub techno label has featured Quantec, Brendon Moeller, and bvdub. One of the lesser known characters from the Shoreless roster, Mr. Cloudy's discography consists mostly of limited digital releases on free netlabels: cism, Enypnion, ZeECc, and Instabil.

"Different Lives" is currently available from Clone Records and, along with the previously listed netlabels, is highly recommended!

Mr. Cloudy's upcoming releases include "Cloudy Tracks," an EP for Millions of Moments and an album called "Recluse" for a label yet to be determined.


Review: Ramadanman Versus DJ Harvey

Boston: 7/24 Ramadanman at Good Life -
7/25 DJ Harvey at Dancing On The Charles

Young, pale and anxious, Fruity Loops champion Ramadanman, or Dan Kennedy, unplugged a Macbook in favor of his Vaio, only to experience constant and then intermittent interruptions in sound. The melange of bootie-thrusting college students and ganja-smoking professionals initially heckled the buffering problem with "Ohhh!"s and "Nooo!"s, but they were committed to the freshly remodeled Good Life. Kennedy flinched and haphazardly tweaked nobs, uneasy until the final twenty minutes of his set, at which point he settled into a funky glitch-free groove.

Thanks to progressive and artist-breaking releases on his label Hessle Audio, and in part to Ricardo Villalobos dropping his tracks at techno festivals, Ramadanman's reputation precedes him. When asked about his production style, he told Media Contender: "I see it as another mutation of garage and it all fits into the history of new UK music, and I think rather than a change of direction, it just fits what we enjoy! I think variety is very important." Like a lot of producers who find themselves suddenly in the limelight and touring, Kennedy came across as unassuming and modest. He likes to drink milk and chat with fellow artists about EQ-ing woodblock.

The next night DJ Harvey, accustomed to touring the crazy nations of the world, raised his eyebrows and grinned when attempted crowd-surfing shook the booth. Dancing On The Charles, fueled by Red Bull, picnic food and various beers you can count on for the long haul, took place at an American Legion outpost on the Cambridge side of the river. Beneath the tent illuminated by visuals an official photographer roved around and asked, "Can I get a picture of you drinking that Red Bull?" Meanwhile the unflappably hip and casually legendary Harvey Bassett won over scenesters and academics, who hoped their lives would only go so well.

"It's weird to be really famous and poor at the same time," DJ Harvey commented at the after party. He wore an unseasonable black leather jacket and relaxed against the wall. A long-haired girl wearing a "FUCK WAR" t-shirt came over and straddled his leg; he asked her if she was going to give him a knee massage. She turned out to be an acupuncturist. Another panting fan asked him about reel-to-reel tape machines. DJ Harvey was amused at the adoration and although more in demand than ever, claimed he looks forward to disco being unpopular again. These days the mastermind of Black Cock records, and former resident of super clubs such as Ministry of Sound, lives and throws parties in Hawaii and LA, recently got married, and enjoys being selective about gigs. "I've gotten a bit lazy," he said.

DJ Harvey and Ramadanman recently played New York City's club Love, to give away Boston's scheduling strategy. A more puzzling part of the strategy was the presence of three or more opening DJs at both Good Life and Dancing On The Charles. As Boston residents are well aware, most sanctioned events are over before they begin, at 1:00 or 2:00 AM; public transportation shuts down shortly after midnight. Within the time allotted by the city, haste is inevitable. Though despite this situation, area promoters remain determined in booking big names. It's difficult to truly pass judgment. However, it would have been great to hear the influential guests from across the pond for longer than an hour and a half each.