Last month, I found myself in one of those unique-to-this-decade moments where I was standing on an exposed subway platform scrolling through Twitter while the tips of my fingers froze. The reason for that was that, over the holidays, I went through an old external harddrive and pulled some old MP3s onto my iPod. Included in that archival raid were releases from Hood, a Leeds-based band that specialized in murky, emotional post rock, before taking the skittering electronics that Radiohead explored on Kid A and running with them in a glitchy direction that culminated in 2005′s Outside Closer, which was beautiful and also seemingly their last album as a band. I also grabbed releases from The Notwist, a German electronic band that spent decades perfecting a warm, innocent approach to vocals and electronics. Their music was often sad, but mostly it was nice, like something you’d drink a cup of tea to. Someone on Twitter had prompted a discussion on bands like The Notwist and Hood, and it made me start thinking about how people don’t really talk about these bands so much these days, which is weird, because their influence is present in so much of what we do talk about. From James Blake’s hushed piano sadness, to Mount Kimbie’s tiny, idiosyncratic tone pieces to The xx’s dusky breakup songs—there were a lot of seeds for this stuff planted in not obvious places in the late ’90s and early ’00s. Some of it isn’t worth revisiting, but there’s plenty that is. Which brings me to Cloud Boat‘s “Wanderlust,” a song filled with dour handclaps, church choir vocals, and carefully restrained guitar lines that feel like loneliness personified in music. “Wanderlust” is a downer of a song, but it’s also well composed, the duo of Sam Ricketts and Tom Clarke, draw on Sade’s lushness and come back with something that sits comfortably at the intersection of slow guitar music and softly dubbed electronics. “Wanderlust” comes from a 12-inch on Apollo Records (R&S), out March 4th.
Stream: Cloud Boat, “Wanderlust”