CRACK CLOUD – ” Pain Olympics “

Posted: November 10, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , , ,

Vancouver art collective Crack Cloud have shared their debut album “PAIN OLYMPICS”, marked by album highlight and lead single “Ouster Stew.” It was self-produced and written and recorded in Calgary and Vancouver between June 2017 and December 2019. The group’s previous release was their 2019 single “The Next Fix,” which followed their exceptional 2018 self-titled EP. Earlier this year, Paste featured them in our list of 30 Canadian artists you need to know in 2020. In comparison to the tightly-coiled, guitar-driven post-punk of their self-titled release, “Ouster Stew” is more colorful and eccentric—adding synths and saxophone into the mix. Lead singer Zach Choy’s (the group are adamant not to call him a frontman, doubling down on their decentralized model) vocals are positively waggish as their guitars squawk with an art-rock-meets-funk vivacity.

Like Psychic TV before them, Crack Cloud have a philosophy, and one that they are not afraid to wear on their sleeves. While their anarchic, phantasmagorical visuals, heavy use of symbology, and seemingly never-ending cast of colourful collaborators have often invited cult comparisons, this really does the collective no justice.

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There is no apocalyptic death drive here; no cult of personality; no hierarchy of power. While frontman and lyricist Zach Choy is in many ways the face of the group, the collective is one founded on equality, and in his cryptic lyrical blending of poetics, polemics and personal experience, Choy is truly the mouthpiece of something far larger than himself. Nowhere else is this more apparent than on the album’s first single, ‘The Next Fix.’ What begins as a caustic, claustrophobic account of addiction swells into a sprawling, euphoric hymn as Choy is joined by a choir of seemingly endless celestial voices. Less a cult then; more a church. Listening to this song or watching its accompanying self-directed video is a truly spiritual experience, and in its building, jubilant movement it offers a glimpse of Crack Cloud’s most vital message: using community to turn adversity into hope.

This isn’t just bravado; its a story born of deep, personal experience. Crack Cloud operate on the frontline of Canada’s out-of-control opiate crisis, mobilising and organizing in Vancouver’s harm reduction programmes.

The group themselves have had their fair share of trauma, and the collective LP offers its members a vital vehicle for rehabilitation and recovery. As the tagline on the album’s back cover makes clear then, this is absolutely ‘based on true shit.

Part Three of the “Pain Olympics” 2020 series, made DIY by the Crack Cloud Media Collective

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