Clouds Echo in Blue Derri Daugherty reviewed in TollboothDeceptively melodic shoegaze from a Tollbooth favourite.

Label: Galaxy 21 Music
Time: 8 Tracks / 38 minutes            

Over the years, as a main player in The Choir and the City on a Hill series, and by a host of guest appearances and production roles, Derri Daugherty has made a lot of friends. It seems inconceivable that this is his only first solo outing.

This instrumental ambient/ shoegaze release sounds largely as Choir fans might guess - or at least it does after the first track. The opener “The Sound at the End of the World” is basically a high drone that enjoys some guitar bubbling up as it progresses (with a tone a bit like Steve Hackett's on The Lamb lies Down) and then dies away. But after this, the collection is more song-like, with old stalwarts Ken Lewis and Chris Donahue occasionally joining in as a discreet rhythm section.

With Daugherty's Marc Byrd connection, it is tempting to think that Clouds Echo in Blue might resemble Hammock, but Daugherty is more structured and tuneful; this is shorter, simpler and with fewer kaleidoscopic layers. He tends to run a couple of reverbed, interweaving guitar tracks over ambient backwash.

The quietly majestic “Where Did Winter Go?” is the longest track at over six minutes and it bears its length well, being easy to get lost in. The gorgeous “My Imaginary Friend,” which swirls as it pacifies, is just as easy to chill to. The album then turns from a trickling stream to a still, cool pool until some Keaggy-esque tones finish the disc over the returning rhythms.

This humble little disc is a deceptively melodic blighter. It tinkles away happily in the background while I work, spraying shiny slivers of jangly guitar around the room like a sonic mirrorball, and then as soon as I leave the room for somewhere else, I find that the tune is not only ambling around the back of my brain, but I am humming it too.

It’s hard to consider such effortless and almost ambient listening as essential, but this will go down very well with Choir fans and those who love atmospheric and chiming guitar music across the years, whether it is early Floyd or softer Sigur Ros. It’s always good to hear Daugherty and this is a quietly tasty little treat.


Derek Walker