The Clouds are Ghosts
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The Clouds are Ghosts

Austin, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

Austin, Texas, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Rock Pop


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Reviews (Alt Sounds)"

Texas, USA; home to a variety of the past’s musical pioneers , from 50’s rock n roll star Buddy Holly to post-hardcore legends At The Drive-In. Austin, Texas has particularly had its fair share, and here we have a relatively new four-piece called The Clouds Are Ghosts. Formed in 2008, the group create music by mixing elements of piano, violin, guitar and synths. Lead vocalist Jason Morris wanted a band name which evoked a haunting but uplifting emotion like their music...I think they’ve accomplished that! Influenced by the soundscapes of bands like Radiohead and Gorillaz with a bit of Björk thrown in for good measure, their style has become known as Melodramatic pop with an ambient feel. This is their most recent release; a ten-track self-titled album which is available to download FREE from their official Bandcamp page. Aren’t they nice?

Joining singer Jason are pianist - Erin, violinist/guitarist - (another) Jason and guitarist/synth man - Steven. And it’s immediately evident that it’s a team that works. Opening track “Change” has a haunting drum machine loop accompanied by Erin’s striking piano chords and Jason’s lingering vocal melody, which reminds me of a slightly less crazy Maynard James Keenan. As the tension builds, a huge organ sound rings out with harmonies a-plenty; and the violin section is quite simply lovely! It’s a promising start. And closely followed by the equally strong “Atomic Daydream” with an intro similar to Linkin Park’s “Breaking The Habit”; quick-fire beats and speckles of well-placed synth are welcomed. Jason’s lyrics are intriguing, “Travelling through life I reside in the mind of the optimist, feeding on memories as I’m trying to find all the frequencies in the dissonance”; like poetry channelled through Stephen Hawking?!

Erin gets to show off her skills in “We Are Not Alone”; her piano melody evocative and cinematic throughout. Its dramatic sound is brought further to life as the violin section strikes fearlessly into the mix. The track as a whole would fit nicely into the score of a theatre production. The Clouds Are Ghosts have managed to slot themselves into a somewhat new niche in the music world. There are so many different musical elements in play but rather than seeming over-cooked, they make it work in their favour. In tracks like “Echo” the interaction and arrangement between the classical and modern instruments is brilliant. They make it seem effortless; as if they were always meant to be together and Jason’s vocals are beguiling; enunciating each haunting word with a passion like Placebo’s Brian Molko.

Unfortunately the album loses life after the first five tracks. It comes off a little dull and uninspired compared to the powerful and moving first half. “Vampires” is a mysterious track; looming synth notes, a depressing vocal melody and minor chords left right and centre - it’s a little too Radiohead for me. As is the electro-tinged “Orbiting” which sounds like a Pet Shop Boys B-side or a Depeche Mode cover. It’s not bad, it’s just very different to the uplifting soundscapes created earlier, which may actually be to more people’s tastes?

If you like your electro-pop a little more moody and drawn-out, then the last few tracks will satisfy your thirst. To be fair final track “Learning” has grown on me, it’s the kind of song that gets under your skin one melancholic note at a time. Again, The Clouds Are Ghosts manage to effortlessly integrate present drum machine sampling and the traditional combination of piano and violin.

This is a very cleverly constructed album with flawless production and captivating song-writing. The change in pace and mood in the second half brings down the energy, but by then I had already decided that the group have something special and are unique enough to keep my attention. I take my Stetson off to them. - Alt Sounds

"Interview: The Clouds are Ghosts CD Release [Beauty Bar / Tonight]"

The Clouds are Ghosts celebrate the release of their self-titled debut full-length tonight at Beauty Bar. The local outfit harvests textured atmospheres, imagined on soothing electro backdrops, sustained by Jason Morris’ delicate voice, and decorated with enchanting embellishments from choice instruments such as the piano, violin, and organ. We caught up with the band this week to check up on their background, influences, and recording process.

When did The Clouds are Ghosts form? Are all the band members from Austin?

The Clouds are Ghosts formed in May of 2008; comprised of 3 members from Beaumont, TX and the vocalist from Savannah, GA.

Where did the name of the band originate?

The band name was created by Jason Morris (vocalist) in an attempt to evoke a haunting yet uplifting emotional response. We try to cover a wide range of emotions, and wanted our name to reflect that.

Rescue Mission get things going this evening with dreamy guitars that hark back to the days of 80’s New Wave and will be followed by the equally scintillating six-string panache of The Authors. Beauty Bar’s resident Friday night DJ Prince Klassen keeps the dance floor patrons satisfied till close.

Congratulations on the release of your new full-length -- is this your debut album? Where was it recorded?

This is indeed our debut album. It was recorded by Kevin Butler at Test Tube Audio. He also produced the album and, while recording, became so entwined in the process that he was assimilated into the band. He is now our 5th member, playing percussion and synths. He is also involved in the writing process a bit as well.

Tell us more about your influences and inspirations?

We actually all have slightly different influences. As for how they permeate our music, I would say our soundscapes are influenced by Radiohead, Depeche Mode and Gorillaz -- with a little Blonde Redhead and Björk thrown in for good measure. For the skeletal beginnings of our songs, a more twitchy approach to the beat programming is used, keeping it simple while trying to make it as interesting and sonically pleasing as possible. This was an area where our engineer/producer, Kevin Butler, really got his hands dirty. Steven Paul (beats/guitar/synths) often comes up with electronic beats, and Kevin brings the organic side to that equation, forming an electro/organic percussive foundation. Once the shapes have been drawn, Jason Flitcraft (violins/synths) and Erin Fillingame (piano/rhodes/clavinet) begin to color the songs with strings and piano. Regardless of who the progenitor is, we are all involved in the song-writing process employing an honest no-ego approach.

The last steps are the vocals and lyrics (Jason Morris) who tries to frighten people into feeling empowered and hopeful. The world is a crazy place filled with good and evil, and we try to be a reminder of that fact. We are inspired by those who are courageous enough to paint the cross-hairs on their own foreheads, but we try to keep the political side of the lyrics as subliminal as possible. Everyone knows what is happening. They don't need us to remind them. We simply try to stay within the warmth of the music we create and say what is appropriate. Those who want to hear anger will hear it, just as those who want to hear hope will hear hope. In short, we are an android rock band with a capacity to love and learn.

What do you make of the Austin music scene these days?

As far as we can tell, everyone in this town is either in a band or knows 20 people who are. This is a good and a bad thing -- good in that there is never a shortage of new and cool bands to listen to, and bad in that it is extremely hard for any band to break through. There may be a million venues, but there are a billion bands trying to get the opportunity to play the best venues on the best nights. This, in many cases, leads to a very competitive approach from a lot of bands. As for us, we try not to get just good shows, but we try to build full bills with bands so that we may champion each others' passion.

Music is merely a form of communication, and there is no perfect form of it. You have to create your own scene in this town, and that is what we are trying tirelessly to do. The Austin music scene could benefit greatly from a little more teamwork. Not to assume where the onus truly lies, but we feel the brunt of the responsibility falls on journalists such as yourself to help people find what they are looking for, whether it be on a Tuesday at a less popular venue or a Saturday at a more crowded place. The venues are unfortunately forced to consider the business side of the equation. If a band does not draw, they are going to find it very hard to get attention or good shows. Because of that, the bands with the most friends have a tremendous advantage, which brings us to a solution. Lots of bands in this town play a lot of shows, and while we would not begrudge them their approach, we do disagree w -

"Bits and pieces about Austin-based music talent"

The Clouds Are Ghosts
If you do a bit of digging on The Clouds are Ghosts, you'll see a uniformly-positive opinion between the Austinist, the Austin Chronicle, and Austin Town Hall - The quartet has broken one of the glass barriers that a lot of indies struggle with: Local press.

In any city, that's a struggle (a prophet in his own town, as it were). But in a market like ours, with hundreds, if not thousands, of bands to choose from... Let's just say the boys and girl in the band must be doing something right to make Austin's press pay enough attention to actually devote a bit of precious column space to them.

That's Jason Morris on the far left there - His is the voice of the group. Next to him is Erin Fillingame, who tickles the ivories (if we can speak so cavalierly about an obviously-gifted talent). To her immediate right is Jason Flitcraft - He plays traditional strings (violin and guitar). Not pictured is percussionist Kevin Butler, apparently grafted into the team whilest recording their debut LP at Test Tube Audio. On the far right is Steven Paul, who plays guitar and presumably pulls those awesome airy sounds out of the synths he commands.

And Awesome is the correct word: The tracks these guys have cut for their self-titled LP inspire respect with their instrumentation and compositional style, made even more towering by some serious production chops. Which they have in abundance. Chops, that is.

Any other instruments, and you'd tag 'em as experimental; thus associating them with careless dissonance and psychedelically-inspired slop. But because they bring classical piano and violin and quartet-sounding synths, it gives their sound an air of convincing authority. For fear of being dubbed a cultural idiot, you're almost afraid not to agree that they bear significance: It's that classical instrumentation, coupled with Morris' stretching, emotive vocals, that's drawing the ewws and awes.

Notice the studio cleanliness, coupled with just a smidge of reverb: It gives these pieces a nice airy depth, suggesting the gravitas that we'd call their core sound. Great recording, nice mix, professional mastering - The Clouds Are Ghosts have brought their A game, folks.

Compositionally, the guys and gal wear the "experimental" label politely - They rarely depart from verse-chorus-verse structures, and only dip a toe into harmonic dissonance - Usually just enough to make a musical point. This approach liberates them to do very nice simplistic arrangements of dense melodies: Check out the minimalistic "We Are Not Alone", and try not to get swept up with the pathos of the piano, backed by the swirlish pads; both painted over at the whim of Morris' vox:

Now take a listen to "Insomnia", and watch how they've wedged random vox into nice atmospheric pads, all behind a simplistic keyboard melody; ending up with a compelling, hypnotic soundscape:

Mostly hailing from Beaumont (Morris hails from Savannah, GA), they've been around for 3+ years, playing spots all over (including some you'd think are not a fit for their sound): Mohawk, Stubb's, The Highball, Beauty Bar, Club de Ville, The Scoot Inn, Elysium, Trophy's, Red 7. And though Austin is home, they've traveled to Dallas/Denton/Fort Worth for a gig or two, and have been seen as far away as Athens GA, Brooklyn, Baltimore, Washington DC, and New Orleans.

The scuttlebutt is they're working on LP 2, which will then be followed up with gigs 'a plenty, most likely here in the Austin area, probably at your venue of choice.

We'll leave you with the debut LP, well worth a download (free at the time of this writing), and definitely a worthy of a fully-attended listen:

- Austin Independent Music Noise

"Notes from the Cubicle"

The Clouds Are Ghosts are an Austin-based electronic/ambient outfit who released their freshman effort in late 2009.

The self-titled disc, which is 10 tracks coming in at just over 33 minutes, is something I’ve not heard very often… electronic music that I don’t run from. I’m not a very big fan of the genre, mostly because I feel many of the bands that play this style concentrate too much on the synth-beats and not enough time formulating good lyrical content (if you’re in an electronic band and reading this, I’m talking about those other bands… not you). Not so with The Clouds Are Ghosts. They’ve got something really special going on.

Yes, the drum beats and synths provide the skeleton in the framework of each song, but the songs are fleshed out with guitar, violin, piano, and very well written lyrics.

Songs like “Change,” “Atomic Daydream,” and “Learning” have a real Depeche Mode feel to them. Vocalist Jason Morris’ voice has a strong presence and lends well to the music without overpowering or being overpowered. Alt-rock tracks like “Fields” and “Insomnia” align them musically to Austin’s The Soldier Thread.

They seemed to be very careful where the songs hit on the album, for it builds up to the climax track (number 7), “Vampires” then winds down.

Being that I’m not a huge electronic-music fan it makes sense that my favorite tracks are the piano-driven ballads. My favorite being “We Are Not Alone,” a song lamenting the end of a relationship. Musically it’s beautiful and lyrically it grabs my attention.

“Waiting for something to happen / something to turn this all around. Pick me up off of the ground. Trying to answer these questions / these questions are keeping me up at night. Leaving me here paralyzed. I cannot tell you why I see. Words are escaping me.”

This is truly emotional music… it evokes feeling. If you let the music in, it will take you on a journey. I’ve not seen them live but if they put it all out there like they seem to do on this record, they must be a phenomenal show to take in.

If you’ve been swayed by this review at all to take a listen to them, well I’ve got good news for you. Their entire album is available as a free download (.zip file). If you like that, how about a free show? Next Friday (3/19) they are playing at The Highball (1120 S. Lamar) with Seven Percent Solution, Death is Not A Joyride and four other bands.

The Clouds Are Ghosts are Jason Morris (vocals, synth, guitar), Erin Fillingame (piano), Jason Flitcraft (violin, synth, guitar), Steven Paul (guitar, synth), and Kevin Butler (percussion) - INSite Magazine

"Texas Platters"

Three out of five band members listing synths second on their individual duty rosters, the fourth being the keyboardist, and the fifth leading with engineering/production means either the Clouds Are Ghosts are musical rocket scientists or Garbage. The moment this local quartet's eponymous debut opens to beats and synthesized melodrama heaving and sighing behind a piano-kissed vocal straight out of the nasal theatre of Placebo's Brian Molko, you know you're not in Kansas anymore, Toto. "Atomic Daydream" beats out jackrabbit skank under layers of synthesized radiation, and violin-swollen New Age gothic "We Are Not Alone" trades on Jason Morris' classic UK 1980s vocal dramatization ("Fields"). By the time both lead into the cutting rhythms of "Echo," you realize The Clouds Are Ghosts doesn't have a single hair out of place, perfectly segued and polished to a binary New Order. "Insomnia" and synthetic "Vampires" blur the second half – piano sonata "Underwater Level" – but paramount is "Orbiting," a busy signal of modern existential acquiescence. - The Austin Chronicle

"A2W: The Clouds Are Ghosts"

It’s been awhile since our last artist to watch feature, so we thought we’d press on this week with Austin band The Clouds Are Ghosts. The band has been building a lot of deserving positive press recently around town on sites like The Austinist who also dropped an interview with the band several months ago. Being a bit new to the Austin music scene having formed only in 2008, it’s surprising to see such a fresh band growing so quickly. The recent rise in popularity is of course attributed to the quality of the band’s sound which has been compared to their Radiohead & Massive Attack cited influences. This writer is ready to call them a more atmospheric and electronic version of European bands like Muse. You definitely won’t hear the wailing rock guitars like that band, but Clouds Are Ghosts certainly have that “epic” feeling to their music. The band, fronted by Jason Morris, recently came off an east coast tour and also just released their debut self-titled LP back in September. We’re jumping on the hype bandwagon with this band and we’re betting you will too. If you’d like to hear more, the band is currently offering up their new LP for free high-quality download on their website. Live shows coming up are February 27th at Mohawk and a few TBA shows during SXSW. - Austin Town Hall

"Reviews (Leicester Bangs)"

The Clouds Are Ghosts – S/T (Independent)
From Austin, Texas, The Clouds Are Ghosts play beautifully poised electronica; nicely atmospheric mood pieces, but created to serve the song, rather that the other way round. Vocalist Jason Morris’ voice is light and delicate, though always high in the mix, and the band provides distinctive hooks amongst the effects. They list their influences as Radiohead and Massive Attack, and while both make sense, The Clouds Are Ghosts aren’t overtly progressive, experimental, trippy or soulful. They do however have something, which both impresses and is intrinsically likeable. They sound European; certainly from another time - they sound like the future, as envisaged twenty, maybe thirty years ago, and as such, sound refreshingly apart from the mainstream. See what you think. The last time I looked you could download the complete album from the MySpace page. There should be a link somewhere ‘round here…
Tony S. - Leicester Bangs


Harbinger (EP) - released 8/19/2011 (FREE download)

Self-Titled LP - released 9/11/2009 (FREE download)



In 2009, through the recording of a full legnth album, we formed a sound unlike any we have formerly heard or been a part of in our city. Combining thoughtful programming, intelligent production by drummer/producer Kevin Butler of Test Tube Audio, with layers of synthetic and organic sounds, we create a unique sonic experience.

While the majority of the band is from southeast Texas, vocalist Jason Morris is from Savannah, Georgia. Despite the difference in location, we find common ground in our influences. Underneath our own sound, hints of Radiohead, Depeche Mode, and Massive Attack can be heard.