LOW STOCK LEVEL
This is the debut full-length release by Cloaks. Following on from their highly-praised, much sought-after Hi Tek EP on Werk Discs, Versus Grain is a cold and challenging assault on the senses from these UK dubstep-destroyers. To say that Cloaks are swimming against the tide would be something of an understatement; as opposed to offering the listener a "breath of fresh air," they have created a sound so dense, it's closer to giving them a boot to the face. Stemming from initial ideas of experimentation with found sounds and primitive sound sources, the music of Cloaks suggests a kind of "use once and destroy" ethos. The tracks found on Versus Grain were pulled from the wreckage of hours of studio experiments -- articulate in design, yet captured with a sense of urgency. Housed within their structures is a destructive impulse that recalls the work of Einstürzende Neubauten as much as it does the dark hooks of Burial. This, as you may have gathered, is a confrontational sound. Emerging from the murk of low analog sludge, the opening track "#00148" sets the tone for the album; a rolling barrage of unrelenting bass-shake, a dark-stepping sound unlike anything else; it's as if every kick drum and hi-hat serves, for a split second, to hold back an endless tide of digital feedback. Versus Grain is 35 unrelenting minutes of battering beats; layer upon layer of sound, dense walls of screaming sonic dirge, decaying static and brutally metallic beats. Circuit-bending is a fundamental part of the process -- by shorting out parts of the circuitry in the equipment used, the sound sources become mutilated to extreme and devastating effect. The randomization of the outputted sound makes for a truly unique ear-fucking. Killer beats are matched to piercing tones and harsh waves of static, which gives Cloaks' aggressive style the potential to be played out in both dubstep and metal clubs alike. Their live performances to date have been scarce due to the fact that creating this music tends to leave a lot of equipment and eardrums irreparably damaged. Versus Grain is for fans of extreme music as much as it is for fans of heavy dub, but from the outset it is clear that Cloaks do not sit comfortably within either genre, or any other for that matter -- this is the new broken sound. Cloaks use noise as a weapon, and it really, really hurts.