Currently comprised of Daniel McAuley (vocals, synths), Brendan William Jenkinson (guitar, piano), Rory O’Connor (bass) and Brendan Doherty (drums), along with a rotating cast of collaborators and friends, the Dublin, Ireland-based act Cloud Castle Lake derive their name from a Vladimir Nabokov short story about a voyager, who finds a place so beautiful that he wants to spend the rest of his life there, but is cruelly dragged back to reality. With their 2014 self-released debut EP Dandelion, the Irish pop act received attention for a sound that’s been described as a mix of pastoral folk with soaring post-rock crescendos that routinely juxtaposes dark, despairing lyrics with a euphoric catharsis. Interestingly, the act has claimed the work of Alice Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders as being major influences on their unique sound and compositional approach. And adding to a growing profile, the band has opened for touring acts such as Glasser, Lisa Hanningan and Ultraisa.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site, you may recall that late last year, I wrote about the breathtakingly gorgeous, Amnesiac-era Radiohead-like single “Bonfire,” which features twinkling, arpeggiated keys, and jazz-infected drumming and a tender yet soaring melody within a song that focuses on doubt, detail and keeping secrets while drawing from an old Irish/Welsh myth about rival tribes trying to find out the secret name of the other’s god in order to defat them. However, the band initially resurfaced with the release of “Twins,” a gorgeous, cinematic track that draws from classic soul, jazz and pop that reminds me a little bit of Tales of Us-era Goldfrapp and Ennio Morricone soundtracks paired with McAuley’s achingly tender and soaring falsetto. As the band’s frontman Daniel McAuley explained in press notes, “‘Twins’ was initially about the way people present themselves online; declaring yourself part of a group, the need to prove yourself within it and the paranoid narcissism that goes with that. In the two years since writing it, it’s unexpectedly taken on a much more troubling and urgent meaning.”
Directed by Irish filmmaker Kenny Leigh in collaboration with the members of Cloud Castle Lake, the equally cinematic and incredibly symbolic video was shot at Russborough House in County Wicklow, reportedly one of Ireland’s longest houses — and it manages to touch upon the themes in the song but at a feverish and nightmarish pitch. As the band’s Brendan Jenkinson said in press notes about the making of the video, “Nearly all of it was shot outdoors at Russborough House just as a hurricane was approaching, so towards the end of the day the weather got pretty hairy. It was very unpleasant at the time but ended up working really well with the arc of the video. We wanted to capture the same mood and feel of dream sequences in 50s/60s European films. We found that, in a kind of counter-intuitive way, it really suited the music and gave a new dimension to the lyrics.”
Next month, the members of the Irish quartet will be embarking on a 5 date North American tour with stops in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and a February 6, 2018 stop at Rockwood Music Hall. These tour dates will serve as a bold re-introduction to the band, as well as building up buzz for the band’s Rob Kirwan-produced debut, slated for a Spring 2018 release.