EP REVIEW: 'CLOUD WALKING' BY TIDESETTER
Tidesetter reveal their talents for making desert rock in the cold English North on their debut EP Cloud Walking.
A band based interchangeably between Huddersfield and Leeds, Tidesetter don’t seem like they’re situated in the right geography for the music that they make. Yet, in their indulgent tribute to the apparent end of the world, Tidesetter bring together hefty helpings of psych, alt-rock, and jam band-like song structures for a Northern audience.
As opener, “Cloudwalking,” begins, I am confronted almost immediately with pounding drums and screaming guitars, with a dense and heavily saturated sound. The band present much of what I want from the riff-heavy, jamming music they make on this track: an entrancingly captivating vocal performance; ripping choruses with searing guitar leads and hypnotic bass lines under a stonery, psychy bridge, all of which meet seamlessly across the nearly six minute runtime of the song.
With “Cloudwalking” fading and the next track,“Jurassic Dig,” starting up, Tidesetter introduce a crunchy bass line that turns into a burst of youthful energy with a riff that wouldn’t be amiss on a Queens of the Stone Age album. As singer, Keir, exclaims, “The World’s ending, boys,” it appears almost as a call to arms for every instrument present to be slamming their most fearsome and catchy riffs towards the listener. However, in that all-in approach, some of the main faults of the project appear. Once all the elements of the track load in, they rarely dial back so the heavy, compressed saturation of tracks can lead to the catchiest elements getting sadly lost.
This shortcoming is most apparent on the following track, “Snake Charmers”. While there are a lot of engaging elements, like the serpentine guitar leads at the start, and an endearing but brief cowbell appearance, the lack of dynamic shaping and the indulgently long runtime don’t allow the best bits of the track to flourish. At over six and a half minutes long on an EP where every track is already over five minutes in length, I would have liked more focus on what makes each track shine rather than frequent descents into bluesy jams.
Luckily, the last two tracks of the EP present respites from those problems, each in their own way. The lead single, “Big Big Dog,” fortunately feels much more content sitting in the mellower ends of the Tidesetter sound, even allowing passages where melodic bass lines and acoustic guitars can breathe and support the dynamic range of the vocals. While the production style, like much of the rest of the project, is slightly too processed for the apocalypse that contextualises the music, it provides a needed lightness on “Big Big Dog”.
The closer, “Hannibal 68,” alleviates the issue of processed production by finally bringing out a raw, piercing production that takes me back to the first time I listened to Kyuss. As the guitars revel in psychedelic effects and singer Keir Hoyle lets loose, no longer sardonic and wry as he was previously, it truly feels like the end of the world has finally arrived. Embracing both loud peaks and quieter passages that allow for engaging builds, Tidesetter manage to keep intrigue going across this formidable track. In doing so, they create a mission statement of what Tidesetter should be: Ambitious, dynamic, and raw.
Writing by Varun Govil
Photography by Sam Joyce @samjoyce.photos