Cloud Cult’s electro-sensitivity was born 15 years ago, the brainchild of lead singer/songwriter Craig Minowa, who wrote and recorded the first two albums – They Live on the Sun (2003) and Aurora Borealis (2004) – over 18 months after the unexpected death of his two-year-old son.
A lot has changed for Cloud Cult since these albums were recorded by Minowa alone, during a period of seclusion on a Minnesota organic farm. The collective now includes cellist Sarah Young, violinist Shannon Frid, bassist Shawn Neary, and drummer Arlen Peiffer (along with visual artists Connie Minowa and Scott West). Despite the band’s evolution and independent success, the rerelease of these first two albums as a remastered double-release rings with a fertile significance, blending broken hearts and supple eccentricities into stripped down, emotive pop-songs brimming with lo-fi waves of style.
The two releases flow naturally, from the opening sentiment of They Live on the Sun’s “On the Sun” to Aurora Borealis’ haunting “All Together Alone.” From one album to the next, the Could Cult vision becomes more concise, the tracks – even at their most electronic – characterized by sincere modesty. Aurora Borealis does drift at times amid effects and abstract sound, although these effects – the voices and distorted lyricism – add impact culled from a father’s heartache.
The release of They Live on the Sun and Aurora Borealis is a heartbreaking look into the formative years of one of today’s more inventive collectives. From the cover art to the samples of baby voices and references to children, Minowa’s personal tragedy put to music is nothing short of stunning.