Air Formation’s “Clouds of Orion”

I almost posted this one yesterday. It was one of those cold windy days, still sunny, moisture saturating the air, an aftermath to a string of consecutive storms. To mark the mood, I was leaning towards something introspective, contemplative, a melancholic tome of wintry vibes from the warmth and comfort of indoors. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite get there, opting instead to check out a friend’s art exhibit … which actually was fortunate, as well as a good night out. So all things being equal, and the winter chill continuing into the evening, I’m making another attempt to post this one. So here goes …

“Clouds of Orion” is an epic stunner of slow-burn mood and brood guitar-infused melody. It’s filled with a hypnotic sense of sadness, perhaps even loneliness, yet never quite feels downtrodden or depressing. It almost seems like a meditation on something serenely cosmic, although I might be sensing that from the song’s title. But it’s sonically infused with deep-cut ruminations on thoughts, ideas, concepts, universal big-stuff, that’s beyond traditional reflection.

It comes from longtime British indie shoegaze act Air Formation, who’ve been around since the late ’90s, but still manage to fall under the nu-gaze of shoegaze – i.e. the revival gaze wave. If they were around a decade earlier, they would’ve been tagged one of the originals. Nevertheless, they’ve carried on the tradition, carving their own imprint on the wall of sound. And although a more recent effort, circa 2018, “Clouds of Orion” demonstrates how far they’ve travelled, while still remaining true to the fuzzed and feedbacked form.

Clocking at just over 10 minutes, “Clouds of Orion” sets the tone quickly. It begins with a few heavily delayed notes of spattered noise from a lone guitar, simple, elegant, and full of pensive melody. It quickly leans into a sprawling dirge-like ballad, progressively fueled by mounting reverb, spatial and noisy, yet never dark or bleak. It’s melancholic but thoughtful, not picking any sides, remaining neither pessimistic nor optimistic. It just is … a moment captured in sound, and song of a vision a bit too esoteric for words.

“Clouds of Orion” is moody stuff, which every now and then, I find absolutely refreshing. Typically, shoegaze skews noise positive, full of textured euphoria, layered deep and packed dense, aiming for pure unfiltered sensation. Air Formation steers this one inward, claiming those qualities instead through introspective musings, subliminal and subconscious, all wrapped in a wash of echoing resonance.

As much as I love this one, I wouldn’t suggest “Clouds of Orion” any old time of year. But it does sit comfortably among these wet winter months, stoking a different kind of wonder, another layer of the mind’s eye and ear. And tonight, that suits me just fine.

Here’s Air Formation’s aural requiem “Clouds of Orion” to serenade your thoughts through the storms of yesterday and the cold skies of today. Enjoy!

“Clouds of Orion” from the 2018 album “Near Miss.”