Cloud Formations


Mikko Singh has been living different musical lives from the start. With Cloud Formations, his third album under the Haleiwa moniker, Singh eschews the guitar-dominated sound of his first two LPs for lush but grainy textures. Inspired by bands and songwriters like Animal Collective, Real Estate, and the late Jay Reatard, Cloud Formations is a hopeful record whose experimental approach to rock music calls to mind the experimental pop of Morr Music label mates like Sequoyah Tiger or even Stereolab's motorik-driven post-rock. It's a fusion of fuzzed-out sounds, washed-out sentiments and far-out songwriting -- perhaps the only shoegaze record you can actually take along to the beach. Ever since he first picked up the classical guitar at age nine, Singh has pursued many different ambitions. Having moved on from skate punk and hardcore bands to instrumental indie rock, Singh even released an album of subtle piano compositions on the 1631 label alongside artists like Dustin O'Halloran and Hauschka. As an album dedicated to new beginnings, Cloud Formations proves to be the perfect synthesis for all of these ambitions. 0After the release 2015's Palm Trees of the Subarctic, Singh began experimenting with his collection of vintage and analog synthesizers, exploring different ways of using the guitar and putting an emphasis on his bass playing when composing. While some of the songs on Cloud Formations were initially conceived in 2015, he recorded and produced the album between 2017 and 2018 in what he calls a "long and continuous process". Apart from some drum recordings (provided by his long-time friend Johan Nordlund of the Swedish hardcore band This Gift Is A Curse), Singh maintained full creative control of the album, tweaking the nine songs in his own Stockholm studio. He paid more attention than before to the subtleties of sound design and their emotive qualities; the result is a dense, at times psychedelic and intimate album, abundant with passion and optimism, despite its name, which may at first indicate the opposite. Singh wants to express hope on Cloud Formations, an approach that becomes tangible from the very first seconds of the anthemic opener "HKI -97". Between the fuzzy ambience of "Ka'a'awa Surfin'", the title track's hypnagogic mid-tempo grooves, to the relentless drive of "Swell" or "Crossroads", and the eerie final track "Cold Concrete", this album is to be understood as a celebration of different musical lives becoming one.