If you’ve ever been blessed to find yourself enveloped in the would-be joy of the Upper Midwest, you will immediately sense the region’s Scandinavian roots in Cloud Cult’s twee undertones. “Hippie” isn’t quite the right word, nor is “green.” It’s mainly such a fresh-faced, unabashed, un-ironic sincerity that it’s difficult for the average urbanite to understand. Regardless of the universal, earth-loving edges of this Minneapolis collective’s sound (which edges can be trying), what there definitely is in Light Chasers is some supremely beautiful and well-produced music.
Soul-searching crew turns didactic Label: Earthology RecordsRelease Date: 9/14/2010 Listening to Minneapolis septet Cloud Cult is kind of like watching Kabuki theatre: It’s bizarre, melodramatic and even gaudy at times, but nonetheless surprisingly moving. With a career spanning 15 years and nine albums, the group has honed a sound that is equally baroque and beat-based, sample-heavy and orchestral, and full of lyrical meanderings that toe the line between ingenious and terrible. Frontman Craig Minowa’s personal history is largely inseparable from the band’s music.
After Feel Good Ghosts, rumors circulated that it would be the last Cloud Cult album, but there were good intentions behind Minowa's hiatus: his wife was giving birth to a baby boy. With newfound positivity as a catalyst, Light Chasers is the first Cloud Cult release in a long time that doesn’t feel exhaustingly heavy. For the band’s first concept album, rather than mourning, Minowa focuses on space travel and uses the theme as a metaphor for self-discovery.
Since 2002, Cloud Cult has used their albums to plumb the depths of grief experienced by frontman Craig Minowa and his wife Connie, who paints stage-side during each of the band’s live shows, following the loss of their first son. The band’s eighth album, Light Chasers, stands as a significant departure in a couple of key ways: In addition to drawing inspiration from the Minowas’ birth of a healthy baby boy in late 2009, Light Chasers is the band’s first proper concept album. Opening with “The Mission: Unexplainable Stories” and concluding nearly an hour later with “The Arrival: There’s So Much Energy in Us,” Light Chasers crafts a singular, linear narrative, chronicling the journey of an astronaut from the planning stages of his voyage to his landing at his eventual destination.
There's no statute of limitations on grieving the loss of an infant child. For Craig and Connie Minowa, the 2002 death of two-year-old son Kaidin was enough to force a year-long separation. This bereavement also fueled the most cathartic moments of the Cloud Cult albums Craig would later record, in a geothermal-powered studio, at the couple's small, northern Minnesota organic farm.