Reviews for "Blue Skies Opening"

Ever effervescent, which means they’re a lot more fun than you probably deserve, Mark & the Clouds finally drop their second album, and what a glorious racket it is.  Their modus operandi, of course, has not changed – classic sixties-styled pop that prompts comparisons to everyone from the Beatles to the Kinks and onto the Small Faces, but with an extra-added buoyancy that bops in corners that most others never think of.
A dozen songs on the album, three more available on the download, Cumulus is one of those fist-pumping, knee bending, guitar strumming offerings that leaves you grinning like a loon for days on end, a transistor radio worth of hits-you-missed that sends you scrambling over the sand dunes to sit near the person who’s playing it loudest – in fact, it seems strange to be playing it in the depths of an east coast winter, when it ought to be adding its weight to the sunniest day.

No matter.  Eased into the mood by “On Her Bike”; set dancing by “Road, Mud and Cold”; and reeling by “Hit By Lightning” – we’re only three tracks in and already, Cumulus has tingled toes that most records never touch.  By the time you hit “You’re Just a Liar”… “Take My Sky”… “Don’t Block the Sun”… (and don’t forget the downloadable “Evil Fairies”), you’re reaching for their debut album and bunkering in for the long haul.  Just don’t dare leave the room, cos you’ll miss another killer hook.

Like so many others who can remember when three 7” vinyl singles cost exactly a quid (6 shillings and eight pence each) every time a ‘long-lost masterpiece’ which was overlooked back in the 1960's is reissued on a shiny silver disc I part with my cash eager to hear what I’ve missed. Sadly the reason why it was overlooked (and in many cases not released at all at the time) is all too apparent on the first listen; it’s just not that good. So, with another let down, why do we keep buying the things? In the hope that we did miss out on a pop/psych classic maybe, that we are going to be blown away just one more time by this thing that’s soundtracked our lives and with so many new bands trying but failing to capture the spirit and sound of those halcyon days what alternative is there? Admittedly there are a handful of bands that can still create that excitement we crave but they are few and far between.
Mark & The Clouds released their debut album, ‘Blue Skies Opening’, back in 2014 on the Mega Dodo label. The title was appropriate, as here was a London band, led by Marco Magnani, who could capture the sound and spirit of the best bands of the 60's while not coming across like a cheap tribute band; they were far too good for that. Heavenly hooks and harmonies filled out each song and they had obviously been listening to and soaking in the music of all the greats from the Beatles to the Hollies taking in the Small Faces, the Beach Boys, the Byrds and even the Move along the way. The album was power pop perfection, lashings of psychedelia intertwined into the songs making each cut a killer.

Here we are, a couple of years down the line and the band release their second album, ‘Cumulus’ proving that that debut was no fluke and that they hadn’t exhausted all their ideas back then. The opening song hits you immediately, ‘On Her Bike’ transports the listener back to 1967. If Wayne Coyne thinks the Flaming Lips' latest in any way represents the early work of Syd Barrett he should lend an ear to this track and, with the greatest respect, hear how it should be done. Sounding like something that should have made it onto the Hollies ‘Butterfly’ album, it has one of Magnani’s gorgeous, shifting melodies coupled with wistful lyrics that alone evoke ’67. This one track really sums up all what Mark & The Clouds are about. It takes in pop/psych before shifting a gear into edgier territory; memories of early Floyd (it’s almost up there with ‘See Emily Play’ in sound and spirit) and the Small Faces at their most lysergic come to mind. It’s over five minutes long yet doesn’t overstay its welcome. Any child of the 60's is going to love this; it’s simply brilliant and what many of us have been searching for.
‘Road, Mud & Gold’ follows and is a hazy, late summer daydream of a song. With its Hollies harmonies once again, the listener can’t help wondering that if Graham Nash had his way back in the 60's and the band had followed his more experimental leanings then that band would have stayed with their classic line-up a little longer, bringing us little shining psych gems like this. It’s another slice of perfect pop.
‘Hit by Lightning’ finds the band in their rockier mode, still psych/pop but with a touch of the Who about it, a killer guitar break, a sing-a-long chorus worthy of Lennon /McCartney and you can feel Noel Gallagher’s pain and frustration.
To show that they are not the only contemporary band treading this path ‘Another Grey Morning’ recalls the work of Dodson & Fogg as much as it does that classic 60's sound; folk influences combined with their psych/pop tendencies produces the perfect soundtrack to an autumn yet to come. But don’t be fooled into thinking that ‘Cumulus’ is lightweight popsike; the energy of bands such as the Who, the Yardbirds and even, at times, the Pretty Things inform songs like ‘Baby, You’re Just a Liar’.
And that’s the appeal of Mark & The Clouds; they’ve taken elements of the music that they are so obviously influenced by and shaped it into something of their own and not just concentrated on one year or one particular sound. ’The Endless Road’ is yet another track where the band have seemingly taken elements from all our favourite 45s of the mid to late 60's and condensed them into a killer of a song. Heavenly harmonies, jangling guitars, a sublime melody and some cool lead and backwards guitar lines are all there in one song. Once again, it is perfect.
Available as a limited edition run of 250 on 180 gram black vinyl (twelve tracks) with a download code which includes three bonus songs (which you need, as they are not throwaways but of the same excellent standard as those on the album) and a limited double CD which includes a bonus live CD of the band's performance at the Half Moon in Putney, if melodic 60's influenced psych/pop/folk is your thing then head for www.mega-dodo.co.uk and get your order in. You won’t regret it.

From Shindig Magazine (U.K.) by Jeff Penczak (Feb. 2017, page 89)

Reviews for EP "Games For May, 2015" (Vinyl - Mega Dodo/Fruits De Mer) from Record Collector Magazine

From "New Underground Music" by Carry Munter (19/12/2016)  Dutch Language (for Direct Like Click Here)



Mark & The Clouds is een band uit Londen, Engeland, die door Marco Magnani - zang en sologitaar werd opgericht nadat zijn band Instant Flight op een dood spoor belandde.
De LP werd gemaakt met medewerking van zijn bevriende muzikanten uit heden en verleden, zoals: John O'Sullivan - basgitaar, Fabio Serrone - solo- en basgitaar, Michele Rossiello - basgitaar, Javier Ayensa - sologitaar, Ian Button - drums, Shin Okajima - drums, Tiberio Ventura - drums, Ray Fontana - keyboards, Tom Hammond - trompet en Joe Hammond - trombone.
De LP, waarop 11 nummers staan, is in een gelimiteerde oplage van 250 stuks via Mega Dodo Records verschenen, waarvan de eerste 100 exemplaren vergezeld gingen van een CD, waarop 4 songs staan, die niet op de LP voor komen, terwijl de CD versie 13 nummers bevat.
Ook "Cumulus", dat 10 maart 2017 via het Mega Dodo Records label verschijnt, wordt zowel op LP (180 gram zwart vinyl), CD en als digitaled download uitgebracht en zal tevens in een beperkte oplage van 100 stuks op 2CD verschijnen, inclusief het optreden, dat de band tijdens het Games For May 2014 deed.
Vermeldenswaardig is ook dat er op de uitgave van de LP 11 nummers staan, terwijl de CD en digitale download 15 nummers bevatten.

Het album start met "On Her Bike" en hierin hoor ik de band een mooie vrij rustige startende licht psychedelische pop song ten gehore brengen, waarna het tempo wordt opgevoerd en ik een heerlijk swingend stuk muziek voorgezet krijg, dat psychedelische rock elementen bevat.
Daarna hoor ik "Road, Mud And Cold", een lekker in het gehoor klinkende dansbare mix van pop en Zuid-Europese klanken, waarin de trompet een belangrijke rol speelt en dit nummer wordt gevolgd door "Hit BY Lightning", een uitstekende powerrock song, die in een gemiddeld tempo gespeeld wordt en me aan de muziek uit de glamrock periode doet denken.
Dan zet de band me een fantastische swingende song voor, waarbij stil zitten geen optie is, die "Another Grey Morning" heet en lichte folk invloeden heeft, waarna ik "You're So Cold" hoor, waarin de band een uitstekende aanstekelijke uptempo rock song speelt, die swingt en tegen het einde meer vaart krijgt, waardoor de muziek tegen de rock & roll aan leunt.
In "Sheltered By The Wall Of Sound", dat niet op de LP staat, laat Mark & The Clouds me opnieuw genieten van een swingende rock song, waarbij het moeilijk is stil te blijven zitten en in "I'm Stopping Here (Bombs & Guns)" krijg ik een prachtige pop song voorgeschoteld, die enkele subtiele tempowisselingen heeft.
Vervolgens hoor ik "Baby, You're Just A Liar", een schitterende swingende powerrock song, waarin de muziek me lichtelijk aan die van The Golden Earring doet denken en "The Endless Road", is een prachtige rustige melodische pop song.
Met "The Lady Was A Freak" laat de band me genieten van een swingende mix van rock & roll en power pop en met "Take My Sky" zet Mark & The Clouds me een mooie, vrij rustige, aangename melodische pop song voor, die orkestrale begeleiding heeft.
Dan volgt "Let Me Fade Away" (niet op LP), een heerlijke swingende pop song, die in een gemiddeld tempo gespeeld wordt, om gevolgd te worden door "Sweet And Wild" (niet op LP), een prachtige mix van folk en pop, waarop ik op de maat van de muziek begin mee te deinen. (luister naar dit nummer via de soundcloud link onder de recensie)
Verder krijg ik "Don't Block The Sun" voor gezet en daarin laat de band me lekker in het gehoor klinkende swingend pop song horen, die lichte psychedelische invloeden heeft en in het laatste nummer van de CD en download hoor ik "Evil Fairies" (niet op LP), een heerlijke aanstekelijke pop song, die eveneens licht psychedelische invloeden bevat en in een gemiddeld tempo wordt gespeeld.
"Cumulus" van Mark & The Clouds bevat 15 (11) uitstekende pop songs, die me geen moment verveeld hebben en ik kan elke liefhebber van pop en rock dan ook aanraden, deze heerlijke schijf eens te gaan beluisteren.


From "Exposé Online"by Henry Schneider  (07/02/2017)



On March 10, 2017 Mark & The Clouds release Cumulus, their second album of homespun 60s pop-psych tunes. Extending what they started on their 2014 debut album, Mark & The Clouds gives us a set of 15 new songs of yearning, lusting, failed relationships, and anger that are a mixture of upbeat music, garage-pop-psych ballads, and rock. There some interesting touch points as well. “Hit by Lightning” bears a passing resemblance to Hawkwind’s “Silver Machine,” “Baby You’re Just a Liar” rocks like The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” the acid folk ballads “Another Grey Morning” and “Take My Sky” could have been Ummagumma era Pink Floyd tracks, and for some reason “Let Me Fade Away” makes me think of Voltaire’s “Worf's Revenge - Klingon Rap.” Running through all the songs are electrifying fuzzed / tremelo / jangling guitars, Mellotron, and great vocal harmonies. Of the 15 songs, only the CD and download releases give you the final four. The songs that really stand out for me are the Syd Barrett influenced “Another Grey Morning” with trippy vocals, minor chords, and harmonium; the acid folk “I’m Stopping Here (Bombs & Guns);” the West Coast psych ala The Byrds “Don’t Block the Sun;” and the acid folk album closer “Evil Fairies,” with a touch of mountain music and what could easily be a dulcimer. Cumulus is a wonderful sophomore release for this up and coming band.

From "Terrascope" By Steve Palmer:

Bright jangly pop! Well, who doesn't like bright jangly pop? Mark & The Clouds are a London-based group whose debut album "Blue Skies Opening" presses all the right buttons for fans of fine songwriting. Opening with multi-harmony hit-in-the-making 'In The Storm,' the sound is retro without being pastiche, beautifully sung and superbly orchestrated. The song is a terrific opener - you think of La Fleur Fatale, a hint of the Byrds, Big Star et al. 'You Call Me Brother' hints at the Kinks with its honky-tonk piano and early '70s glam references; another excellent cut. 'Music Disease' is filled with great harmonies and parping brass - catchy, infectious. The title track is much more laid back, warmer too, with slide guitar and either strings or a mellotron providing backing to a reverberated vocal. An album highlight, this, showcasing main man Marco Magnani's smooth vocal style. 'The Grudge' returns us to power-pop, this time Hammond style, with many fuzzed-up guitars arpeggiating away in the background; this one reminded me of Big Star, with a hint of bands like Teenage Fanclub and Cosmic Rough Riders. A strummed acoustic guitar opens the singer-songwriter track 'Darkened River,' but 'Goddess Of Desire' hints at the Jimi Hendrix Experience in style and attack, underpinned by a twelve bar blues chord sequence - another outstanding cut. 'Spirits In The Wind' has a slightly doomy folk feel to it, with a raga-style vocal and some nice mandolins in the distance; also thumping drums and Velvets style tambourines. Very atmospheric, with a nice riff floating through it. 'I Run Like Crazy' is perhaps the most obviously '60s sounding song on the album, thanks in part to the backing vocal harmonies, but it's a good song in its own right, and you could easily imagine it in the "hit parade" some time around 1968. 'For All Diamonds To Shine' skitters along similarly, with Ricky style guitars and a catchy tune; another album highlight, and highly evocative when the string section comes in. 'Faraway Laughter' is one of those quirky little tunes that English psych pop bands do so well; a hint of the Kinks, a groovy guitar solo, a bucketload of charm. 'London Fire' comes in fast and brash like the Jam sent back a few years in time, while album closer 'Are You Taking Time?' is awash with lovely guitar licks, backwards things and delightful vocal harmonies. None of these tracks outstay their welcome, and repeated listenings confirm depth and really good tunes. In six months time this will be viewed as one of the best releases of the year.


From "The Sunday Experience"


Debut full length platter ‘blue skies opening’ from Mark and the Clouds arrives in two strictly limited formats – there’s your bog standard 13 track CD set to hit the decks 14/7 followed 2 weeks later by an ultra limited 250 only blue wax edition with the first 100 off the racks coming packed with an additional 4 track EP featuring unreleased cuts culled from the recording sessions. ‘blue skies opening’ is a lysergic dream coat marrying power pop swoons (‘for all diamonds to shine’) and 60’s beat-a-rama with paisley pop bliss and laid back country psych cool with the latter being succinctly evidenced on the slinky dream drift exotica escaping the grooves of the title track which for all the world sounds not unlike a secret session gathering together Gram Parsons and Gene Clark types. Radiating swoons aplenty the smoking ’the grudge’ is classic mid career Charlatans in full on smouldering the Band meets Dylan country soul soaked classicism while ‘music disease’ has the kind of sassy beat swagger about its wares rarely heard done better outside of a Rob Clarke and the Wooltones pop platter and comes replete in snazzy Seeds styled fuzzy kickbacks. For the Beatles-philes among you we suggest to fast forward to ‘faraway laughter’ without further delay given its subtle and sumptuous winter toned baroque pop reveals trace elements of the Fab 4’s ‘revolver’ being secretly dissected and puzzled upon by those Davies dudes while staying with the mop top theme the best moment of the set comes in the guise of the parting ’are you taking time’ which unless ears do deceive has something of the hazily glazed woozy underpins more commonly associated with Harrison’s rarely heard handicraft amid the Beatles canon all dutifully couched in dream weaving crystalline riffs and succulently teased in all manner of reverse loops and surrendering sun setting west coast serenades. Giving it a good run for its money in the favourite track stakes is the mod-tastic Hammond laced biff bang pow of ‘goddess of desire’ which to these well tuned ears sounds not unlike some thought lost recently unearthed sassy shakedown penned to adorn some 60’s hipster teen beat flick while the equally haunting desert campfire spiritual ’darkened river’ shimmers, creaks and coos adorned in death rattled twangs and whistling like some Meek overseen murder ballad. And before we forget to mention it ’I run like crazy’ is just like wow and should by rights satiate the stereophonic listening experiences of purists digging the sounds of wimple winch. Think that’s enough worthy excuses to persuade you to invest heavily in don‘t you think?



From "Sunrise Ocean Bender"


Mark & The CloudsMClouds-cvr get added to the Mega Dodo Records catalog with their new full-length, “Blue Skies Opening.” Not as overtly psych as much of the label’s offerings, “Blue Skies Opening” nevertheless still leans heavily to pop, making its stance with Mega Dodo solid. Based in London and evolving from the Instant Flight when they ‘ran out of runway,’ Mark & The Clouds is led by Marco Magnani. Joined by a bevy of friends, Marco and co. pack “Blue Skies Opening” with enough pop rocks and ballads to satisfy a sweet tooth or two. There’s a definite older vibe, weighing heavy on the singer/songwriter leg that doesn’t steer clear of the ’60s (“Goddess of Desire,” “Faraway Laughter”), but embraces more of where some bands went after the ’60s when the ornateness may have started weighing them down. Traces of The Beatles, The Kinks, even that Moody Blues-ish lift on the opening chords of the title-cut, are focused more on the songs than the filigree of psych, which reflects what those outfits held closer over the long-term. Though based in London, Mark & The Clouds don’t shy away from incorporating some American weather patterns here or there, some times in vaguely rural flashes (it wouldn’t be hard to imagine our national treasure Stan Ridgway taking “Darkened River” for a ride) or fully embracing the power pop, jangly or horn-enhanced. Ballads, tougher nuts like  “Goddess of Desire” and “London Fire,” observations and introspections … all find a place under Mark & The Clouds.



From "Bliss/Aquamarine"

Mark & the Clouds is the new project of Marco Magnani, formerly of Instant Flight, who is accompanied here by an eleven-piece band. This debut album is packaged within striking black and white pen art by Raffaela Bertolini, which includes a swirly drawing of a woman locked in an ecstatic erotic embrace with a guitar whilst floating on a cloud. The CD version is out now, and will be followed by a limited edition blue vinyl LP with bonus 4 song CD EP later in July. Mark & the Clouds explore a good variety of vintage-inspired sounds on this album, all with very high quality musicianship. In the Storm is great retro powerpop with psych-rock touches. You Call Me Brother is a late 60s country-rock thing. Music Disease is a strong catchy song with effective use of trumpet and trombone. Darkened River starts off as a laid-back, folky acoustic song, before building up to an intense crescendo with lots of that twangy Wild West guitar sound.Goddess of Desire is a powerful retro rock track with swirly vintage organ, really fantastic stuff. Are You Taking Time? is laid-back, lazy, hazy, summery retro pop. This is a really strong album, every track an absolute winner. If you're a fan of vintage-style music, whether rock, pop, psych or folk, you can't afford to miss this.


From "Shindig! Magazine"(by Jeremy Isaac)


Mark & The Clouds is the latest project from singer, songwriter and guitarist Marco Magnani, former frontman of prog combo Instant Flight, whose new band presents an array of instruments as diverse as electric guitar, keyboards, bouzouki, trumpet and trombone. Magnani penned all 13 songs, ranging from the pleasant pop-rock of 'In The Storm' and the acoustic intro to 'Call Me Brother', through the rollicking 'Goddess Of Desire' and the layered power chords of 'Spirits In The Wind' to The Yardbirds-influenced 'I Run Like Crazy' and the plodding 'Faraway Laughter'.

While there's nothing new here (Flight shared stages with Arthur Brown, Eric Burdon, Hawkwind, Procol Harum and Focus, and it shows, along with echoes of the Fabs, Byrds and Big Brother, among others), Blue Skies Opening is a solid collection of pop-rock originals, well-written and competently executed.

The first 100 copies of the limited- edition blue vinyl release include a four-track EP


                                                                                                                                                                                                                  


from "EXPOSE' ONLINE" (by Henry Shneider)
The Cover art is a great match for the band’s name as well as the album title, but it does not prepare you for what you will hear. Mark and the Clouds is fronted by singer and songwriter Marco Magnani. What you experience on Blue Skies Opening is an infectious set of catchy pop psych songs. There is a plethora of influences percolating throughout the disc from John Lennon to The Everly Brothers to rockabilly. The music grabs you with the very first song, “In the Storm,” with its rocking psych rhythms, musical hooks, and vocal harmonies like The Beach Boys, as well as a hint of The Raveonettes. There is even a slight nod to Tex Mex and Doug Sahm on “The Grudge.” “Darkened River” is particularly outstanding with its Gothic western attitude that conjures up images of the band Guano Padano, especially the whistling. Then “For All Diamonds to Shine” prompts a comparison to Donovan’s “Epistle to Dippy.” The frustration for me is that many of the musical references are elusive, though they sound familiar. The closing song “Are You Taking Time?” is powerful and a great way to end the disc, making you want more. Blue Skies Opening is a fantastic debut release and it is available as both a limited edition blue vinyl LP as well as a CD (released on July 2014). In addition, to complement the release of their album, Mark and the Clouds have also released a free single with the title track b/w “I’ll Follow the Sound,” a non-album song. Blue Skies Opening is a fun and breathtaking release that is sure to please.

                                                                                                                                                                         


From "THE STRANGE BREW" (by Jason Barnard)

Hailing from London, Mark & the Clouds are fronted by singer/guitarist and songwriter Marco Magnani.
They released the excellent ‘Blue Skies Opening’ album back in the summer and if you haven’t heard this long player, now definitely is the time to take a listen. The moment you give it a spin it’s clear there’s a host of great songs in the timeless mold; guitar laden pop-rock with a lysergic twist; or the best indie that used to assault the charts in the 80s and 90s. From the rock swagger of ‘You Call Me Brother’, anthemic melody of ‘The Grudge’, country pistols at dawn
‘Darkened River’ to blending this all together for ‘Spirit In The World’ this really is lovely stuff.
Faraway Laughter’ is another that really delivers in its Beatles-Kinks jaunt.

You could say this is a retro-trip digging into those recycled vinyl blues. However it really isn’t easily to cram in all those hooks in a tight 4 minute track; as Noel Gallagher would attest to from the more bloated moments of his alma mater.

Take Mark & the Clouds to your heart and spread the word.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________


From "AURAL INNOVATIONS" (By Jerry Kranitz)


Mega Dodo has been putting out some great music so that alone got my attention when I received this promo. But I perked up even more when I read that London based Mark & The Clouds evolved out of the band Instant Flight, whose 2004 released Colours & Lights I have long been a fan of. Colours & Lights was a well crafted set of Pop-Psych songs with a Prog infused flavor, often amping up the energy level with heavy organ, guitars and orchestration.
Mark & The Clouds recalls Instant Flight in the form of singer/songwriter Marco Magnani. There’s far less organ and Prog-Psych heaviness here. We’ve got 13 tunes, mostly in the 3-4 minute range. Among the highlights is In The Storm, a hip shaking Pop rocker with a touch of 60s jangle. You Call Me Brother alternates between soulful Psychedelic Dylan-esque Folk-Rock and later period Beatles. I dig the combination of dirty Psychedelic Blues and horn section on the grooving and swaggering songs Music Disease and I Run Like Crazy. Darkened River and Spirits In The Wind both sound like contenders for Spaghetti Western theme songs, though the later includes an Eastern flavor. Goddess Of Desire pulls out the organ and wah guitar for some hard hitting Power Rock and heavy driving 60s Psychedelic Soul. London Fire features orchestrated Power-Pop-Psych with 60s West Coast Psych guitar. And Are You Taking Time is a dreamy but rocking song with the trippiest guitar and effects of the set.
In summary, there’s definitely a 60s flavor to Mark & The Clouds, though it’s not full blown Psychedelic and by no means retro. There are plenty of 70s influences as well. But at the end of the day, these are just outstanding songs that are so catchy that on the first listen you’ll feel like you’ve known them for years.


Hay cosas que se quedan perdidas en el tiempo. Cuando se desvanecen o mueren se disipan. Hasta que el destino nos las trae de vuelta y las abrazamos como si fuesen nuestras desde el principio. En muchas ocasiones la segunda vida tiene esperanza, pues todavía hay energía, una chispa que alienta a continuar donde el público pulsa el botón de ‘play’. Otras no, es demasiado tarde. Marco Magnani vive ahora, es el presente. Pero sigue sin hallar recompensa a una carrera ejemplar. Algún día sus discos, ya sean bajo el nombre de Mark & The Clouds o su anterior banda Instant Flight, caerán en manos de algún iluminado y Marco será el siguiente referente para toda una generación.
Yo, iluso de mi, pensé que el desazón y el destierro por parte de público y prensa generalista, era cosa de esta zona del continente. Parece que el descuido es general. Vamos, no creo que veamos a Marco ilustrando la cubierta de Uncut o Mojo Magazine. “Puedo intentar poner mi cara con photoshop en la portada de Mojo”, bromea el músico italiano reubicado en Londres desde 1992.
Mark & The Clouds acaban de lanzar su segunda obra, Cumulus (Mega Dodo). El álbum ha aparecido en vinilo y también en una exclusiva versión en doble cd, que incluye tres temas extras y todo un álbum en vivo con canciones de Blue Skies Opening (2015), el antecesor a Cumulus. Debo reconocer que no me entusiasmó Blue Skies cuando llegó a mis manos. Pero tanto me ha gustado Cumulus que retrocedí de nuevo hasta su hermano mayor y me encontré con otro puñado de canciones especiales y coloreadas para hacer del día algo especial y lleno de esperanza. Claro, que esta edición especial con esas canciones en vivo, coloreadas por los matices de una sección de viento (trompeta y trombón) entonada, realzan aún más la belleza de unas canciones bellas de por sí. “Me enorgullece que hayas redescubierto nuestro primer álbum a través del bonus cd en directo. Creo que con Instant Flight estaba cansado de ser clasificado y limitado al sonido sicodélico y/o progresivo. En el primer álbum de Instant Flight hay mucho de ese sonido de órgano patrimonial de los sesenta, así que cuando hice Blue Skies, introduje más guitarras y el hammond asomó solo ocasionalmente, siendo más persistente el piano clásico y la cuerdas. De hecho, ese cambio podía apreciarse entre Colours & Lights y Endless Journey, los respectivos primer y segundo discos de Instant Flight”.

Cumulus (para hacerse con una copia deben dirigirse a https://megadodo.bandcamp.com/album/cumulus) es una grandiosa obra. Aquí no estamos hablando de un grupo o músico realizando un disco de género, sino alguien que capitaliza toda una era, da barniz y arma todo un arcoíris. Las sensaciones son inenarrables, de una personalidad que llama la atención hoy día. Claro, que el tipo lleva creando su propio género desde antes de que apareciese el primer álbum de Instant Flight, allá por el 2004. La crítica de Cumulus aparecerá en el número de abril en papel de Ruta 66, pero destaco la versatilidad de Marco como cantante (Roy Harper con las pelotas ardiendo), guitarrista, compositor e incluso ilustrador del artwork. Canciones como «Take Me Sky», «Another Grey Morning» o «Road, Mud & Cold», por citar solo tres, deberían sobrevivir al artista, deben. “Musicalmente hablando creo que intento congeniar canciones pegadizas, ya sean baladas o rock. Tiene que haber una balanza. No quiero sonar solo rock y no quiero sonar solo folk. Mira, llevo un montón de la vieja música surf en el interior de mi corazón; lo solía escuchar en casa cuando era un niño. Como esas guitarras en la banda sonora de “Por un puñado de dólares”, de Ennio Morricone o «Apache» de los Shadows, que todavía toco en pubs junto a mi amigo David Kovacevic. Luego, generalizando, creo que mi otro primer amor, el White Album de los Beatles, capitaliza esa balanza de canciones rockeras y baladas. En esa línea, y como influencia personal, también citaría Disraeli Gears de Cream, los primeros discos de los Doors y Jimi Hendrix, Aftermath de los Stones… ".

Marco dice que la sicodelia no es “una tableta de LSD, ninguna droga o sustancia. La sicodelia reside en los arboles, los campos, el cielo, el mar, las calles, nuestras mentes…”. Es por ello que no hay una gran diferencia entre los discos de Instant Flight y Mark & The Clouds. Todo es un ente, un mismo abismo, una realización del ser y su capacidad como creador. ¿Quien dijo proyecto solista? “Son mis canciones, pero también lo eran en Instant Flight. Cuando hice el primer álbum de Mark & The Clouds pretendía formar una banda pero estaba indeciso con quién colaborar, así que decidí llamar a todos mis amigos y reunirlos a todos en un mismo álbum. En Cumulus decidí dejar mi nombre real en los créditos para que todo el mundo viese que Mark & The Clouds es el nombre de una banda. Como Derek & The Dominos, por así decirlo. Pues nadie en la banda se llamaba Derek. Entiendo que la gente se confunda, pues los miembros de la banda en directo varían dependiendo de la agenda de cada uno. Pero el álbum lo grabó la banda que ves en la cubierta, todos en directo como en los viejos discos de rock que a todos nos gustan”.
La escena londinense de locales no varía en demasía de cuantas pululan por aquí. Las dificultades son las mismas y las bandas tienen las mismas dificultades para subsistir o tan siquiera dignificar ese oficio al que algunos todavía llamamos ‘músico’. Es por ello que cuando pregunto a Marco por la actividad de directo me responde que “necesitamos un Brian Epstein. Para mí siempre ha sido una lucha aquí en Londres desde que llegué procedente de Bolonia, sin un plan, solo para curiosear sobre la ciudad y ver cómo funcionaba aquí el negocio de la música. Hay locales en Londres (el Dublin Castle en Candem y el Garage en Islington) que tienen este sistema de pago: el músico cobra en función a la gente que aparece en la actuación.
Lo cual supone un verdadero desgaste que el músico odia, pues tiene que repartir flyers, hacer publicidad, movilizar personal. No creo que haya cambiado mucho ahora. El sistema es el mismo que en los noventa. Con la diferencia de que antes no había teléfonos móviles y tampoco Internet. De todos modos, vamos a actuar en Italia en noviembre. Y si todo marcha bien estaremos en tu país en septiembre”.

Existe hoy una emergente escena reivindicativa de la sicodelia más pura. Desde bandas que nacen a partir de la rescatada onda a bandas encumbradas como Black Mountain, que hacen de ello un nuevo y pintoresco arte. En 2004 Marco se adelantó a toda esa generación con el disco debut (en vinilo) de Instant Flight. Difícil de encontrar hoy día, el debut de la banda sería hoy día un referente, un ‘must’ para toda esta nueva hornada de chicos interesados en esos sonidos. A Colours & Lights le siguió el bello Endless Journey cuatro años después. Y el circulo se cerró con Around The Gates Of Morning en 2014. Los tres forman una trilogía solida y muy especial. Un tesoro de gran enjundia que injustamente sigue en barbecho, esperando a ser degustado por una gran mayoría. “¿Existe un nuevo interés por la sicodelia? Ya ves lo fuera que estoy. ¡Debería darme vergüenza! Tal vez podría remasterizar el primer álbum y ponerlo de nuevo a la venta… Pero puedo vivir con ello”.

Acabo este artículo, y a expensas de que finalmente la banda aterrice por aquí en septiembre, preguntándole por su estancia en la banda del colgado de Arthur Brown, quien por cierto, participa en una de las canciones de Colours & Lights. “No sé cómo hubiese sido conocerle en los sesenta pero hoy día Arthur es asombroso. La balanza entre la persona que sube al escenario y el hombre calmado y relajado detrás de él me sorprende. Me encantaba de él el sentido de la improvisación; a veces podíamos alargar una canción tres veces más de lo que lo habíamos ensayado y de la nada decir ‘haz un solo ahora’. Es un gran hombre con una energía asombrosa en el escenario, lo cual lo hace más extraordinario por su edad. Quiero decir, que yo me mantengo enfrente de mi micrófono cuando estoy cantando y este hombre no para un solo segundo. Desearía tener solo el cinco por ciento de su energía y encanto sobre el escenario”.
He aquí una playlist esencial de las mejores piezas tanto de Instant Flight como de Mark & The Clouds. Claro, que cada cual tendrá la suya cuando Marco sea apreciado por el vasto número de público que debiera hacerlo en un futuro inmediato. ¡¡Apresúrense!!

Reviews from "The Box Of Dreams"by Chris Twigger

Reviews for "Cumulus"

‘Cumulus’ is London based Mark & the Clouds follow-up to debut long player ‘Blue Skies Opening’. Fronted by singer/guitarist and songwriter Marco Magnani, the group’s first release had a 60s psych/90s indie feel and this release does not break a successful formula.

Some bands that cite the 60s as their prime influence overpower their recordings with production that can mask songwriting failings. Thankfully this record’s excellent production is sympathetic to its strong set of songs.

Just as reference points – opener ‘On Her Bike’ has hints of Syd Barrett and lost 90s group Octopus and ‘Hit By Lightning’ is a heady hybrid of Hawkwind and Oasis. Other shades of sound are represented in gorgeous folk rockers ‘Another Grey Morning’ and ‘I’m Stopping Here (Bombs & Guns)’. ‘Baby, You’re Just A Liar’ has a great little Suede riff and ‘Take My Sky’ echoes George Harrison.

If you even have a passing interest in this scene I recommend you give this new excellent album a listen !

Pressed on Velcro (Not really! but maybe it should be with the number of hooks in this disc), here we find the second album by Mark and The Clouds who formed in 2014.
The Beatles, Syds Floyd, The Kinks, Small Faces, Hollies.  It’s all here if you carev to listen.
The opener “On Her Bike” drew me in instantly (which is a good sign).  The vocal delivery on this piece was driving me mad for weeks as it was so reminiscent of…… and then it came to me Chad and Jeremy ….but it had been crossed with Syds Floyd in style (not the track Bike).  Anyway I was hooked.  Over 15 tracks its like revisiting all the good points of 60s poppy psych output on one disc.  Every time I come back to it there’s more top enjoy and you pick up some little nuance that you missed first time around.
The bands debut album (which I have not heard – yet!) apparently made it into VIVE LA ROCK magazine’s best album of 2014 list.  This without a doubt will do the same when the list for 2017 is published.If melodic psychy powerpop is your thing then you need to make THIS your thing pronto!  Its due out imminently on Mega Dodo on both 180 gram black vinyl and CD.  There will be a VERY VERY limited edition 2 CD set which features the bands appearance at The Fruits de Mer Games for May festival in 2014.  The band are scheduled to appear at the same event this year at The Half Moon, Putney on 28th May 2017 to promote this disc

Review on "Rumore" Magazine, By Luca Frazzi, 7 points on 10 !!!

February 2015, Italy

Mark & The Clouds in the TOP 5 albums of the year 2014, by Gerry Ranson

on"Vive Le Rock"Magazine

Review by Writer/Music journalist  Roberto Calabrò on "Blow Up Magazine" Issue 203, Italy, April 2015