On their new album Pollinator, Michigan’s Cloud Rat capture a sonic portrait of a space beyond some of the most brute physicality of grind where springs of relieving emotional catharsis reside. The emotions dealt with include loss, depression, and more, and Pollinator provides an at times almost euphoric push through these torrents to another side.
The Soul of Pollinator
The band cracked open grind’s shell via capturing musical inspiration from their own lives. This album packs what they feel, volatility and all, and perhaps you feel it too. The likelihood of that definitely spikes thanks to the emotional earnestness with which the band present their work. Even just in terms of the blend across a range from atmosphere to grind, Pollinator is clearly entirely their own.
“Ideally I hope this album might be able to help some folks feel something, maybe get some catharsis and validation in their lives,” guitarist Rorik Brooks says. “Or it could be the soundtrack for folks trying to do some radical stuff. It could fit if you’re alone with headphones crying — or maybe on a nice stereo with a group of friends headbanging together, that seems fun too.”
“Some of the songs are about little moments throughout my life, some that aren’t very important but have always stuck with me, and some of them that have affected me in much larger ways,” vocalist Madison Marshall explains. “The overall lyrical themes deal with communication and/or the lack thereof, especially now with the social media hellscape constantly raging around us.”
Growing the Sound
The band have gradually pulled from further and further out in the ether of extreme music in crafting their statements of their personal identity and artistic quest packed into Pollinator. Accompanying this record, there’s even a short EP available of more directly experimental compositions that the band have crafted, and Brooks quips that a “dream” would be to collaborate with Björk, so they’re clearly impressively dynamic here.
“With this one we tried to distill all of our past disparate elements into a more cohesive vision, where the visceral, intense stuff is blended together with the cerebral, artier stuff without compromising either,” Brooks says. “It’s been pretty interesting and challenging to continue pushing ourselves in this direction, where we draw from a lot of different genres but try and sound consistent while attempting to write more and more complex parts and arrangements. I think part of that comes pretty naturally due to working with a fairly limited palette — as a three piece, with one guitar, drums, and vocalist, with sparing amounts of keys, sample, synths.”
They’ve still persisted anyway, hacking out their place.
“One key difference this time around is that I finally made a dedicated space in my house and started working in Ableton, learned quite a bit and was able to put together pretty complete-sounding demos that definitely helped give a closer-to-complete feel so we knew what the final record would sort of sound like and could pick it apart,” Brooks explains of a period he says also included a debilitating back injury that left him off work for months.
Still, even in the noisy chaos, no piece went untouched. “I also think this record works better as a whole piece rather than singles or small chunks, as it was sequenced in a way to feel like one long song that ebbs and flow,” Brooks notes.
Brooks even shares that he’s excited about the way their latest music has ended up polished, sharing: “I think this is our strongest mix and master we’ve ever had, thanks to the wonderful work of JC at Lakebottom and Brad at Audiosiege. I’m pretty excited with how everything kinda came out crystal clear while still retaining the raw, intense sound that grind, punk, and metal stuff should have.”
The swirling musical fury that’s packed into Pollinator ultimately delivers not just that fury, but a poignant assertion of personal identity. It’s not exactly getting overwhelmingly easier out there, but Cloud Rat are still calling out with their increasingly powerful music anyway and share that they hope to keep up their touring regimen with old and new friends alike.
“At this point I feel like a bit of an outsider to be frank,” Brooks admits. “I hate social media and the current model of streaming and likes and all of that shit, so maybe I’m feeling a bit cynical. But I do know that there are a ton of incredible bands out there doing really great work. And there are so many passionate, intelligent, wonderful people involved in the music community so that rules, and I think there will always be a collection of folks keeping it real.”
Listen to some of Pollinator below. It’s available in full from Artoffact Records on September 13