After more than ten years of silence, UK’s Cielo has finally broken the surface.
Cielo is a solo project based out of Durham, England. Released via Lugubrious Audio–an underground label with a roster chock-full of the unconventional, and part of a small, local cassette scene–Cielo’s new self-titled release is an album best described as experimental indie rock. However, Cielo is exactly the kind of album conventional labels fail to describe.
‘Experimental’ is often a convenient term for music that ventures outside the labeled realm. While that does in part describe Cielo, much of its sound is all over the map, taking influence from known styles such as noise rock and drone, and mixing them with a unique voice.
Cielo presents itself as a slow crescendo, shifting from a minimalistic calm to a decadent, hypnotic maelstrom with its final track, ‘Riding a Horse‘. It is an album with evolution, the impact of which is not fully appreciated without listening to it in its entirety, the reason being that Cielo evolves in more ways than one. Its hypnotic nature naturally lends an out-of-place air to the music, perceptible in droves underneath a delicate presentation, which only increases in density as the album progresses. The transition from simply confusing to unsettling to disturbing is seamless, like a terrible dream with an innocent beginning; the dreamer cannot quite place what isn’t right until the nightmare has fully taken hold.
The focal point of the album is clearly the unnerving vocal performance–whisper-soft and atonal, delicately placed atop the instrumentation with lyrics written almost entirely in Spanish. Those not able to speak Spanish will surely find this to be of no detriment, but rather, an augmentation of Cielo‘s delightfully dreadful atmosphere. Those able to speak Spanish will find that nothing is taken out of the experience; the album features hypnotically repetitive lyrics just as unsettling and clever as the album’s instrumentation.
The only significant fault in this album–if it can be considered a fault at all–is its length. The artist has clearly chosen to prioritize quality over quantity, which is indisputably a much better choice than vice versa. However, the swirling movement of the album proves a powerful current and I certainly would have enjoyed a longer ride.
All in all, Cielo is well worth your time–thoroughly enjoyable in an uncomfortable sort of way, perfect for both those who love to feel the emotional changes brought on by impactful, creative music, and for those experimental fans who live to explore music’s uncharted territory.
Cielo was released on September 30th, 2016 and releases on CD later this month via Lugubrious Audio.