Marissa Nadler is a totally amazing singer, and her involvement led me to check out this tape by Cloud Seeding. Nadler isn’t a member of the band; Cloud Seeding is a recording project centered around Kevin Serra’s instrumentals and a revolving cast of vocalists.
Nadler lends her vocal talents to Serra’s seductive, atmospheric settings (produced and arranged by bassist Cedar Apffel) on each song of the “Ink Jar / Unquestioning” cassingle. It’s a great match. Lead track Ink Jar is especially strong, rocking hard while creating a subtly uncomfortable vibe. The lyrics are about living in an ink jar. It’s creepy and I think the song is pretty perfect! The second song, Unquestioning, is about as cool as the first. Ditching the rock band for a more intimate, ambient sound, Serra and Apffel provide a much more pleasant surface for Nadler’s wordless vocalizations.
John Askew’s remix of Ink Jar is definitely the weak point of the tape. It’s cool to hear elements of the song mixed up, and there are fun moments, but it feels like a remix-by-numbers. The part I really don’t like is the polytonal mix of the chorus vocals with the verse instrumental. Maybe hardcore trip-hop fans will like it!
There appears to be a picture of Hope Sandoval (of Mazzy Star, as well as Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions) on the cover. It’s strange to see her face there, as listeners could easily mistake it for a picture of Nadler. More importantly, though: her spirit is definitely present in the music. The dynamic between Serra’s instrumentals and Nadler’s vocals functions somewhat like that of guitarist David Roback and singer Sandoval in Mazzy Star. Both groups are quick to shift gears between the uncomfortable and the straightforwardly beautiful.
The cassette is available through Otherworldly Mystics, and the packaging is great. The label on the tape has cool “ripped” collage effects, and the layout is rock-solid. While the tape itself is very short, the design as well as the music makes it well worth purchasing!