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.”