Four tracks do not an EP make – not when they time-in at up to 12 minutes – so make no mistake, this release from Dire Wolves is a fully fledged album. Excursions to Cloudland is a mostly instrumental excursion into the sphere of tightened up jams, cut with hypnotic riffs and looping bass runs. Dire Wolves pledge an allegiance to the Space-Rock ethos of Hawkwind, and with ever present chirps of violin and strange electronic bleepings on opener Enter Quietly there’s certainly a good nod to the line-up of that band which included Simon House. Whilst bass, violin and drums keep the track moving forward there’s plenty of room for electric guitar improvisations and a curtain of spectral, wordless, vocals wailing like the warm up exercises of a banshee.
The split tracks Fogged Out 1 and Fogged Out 2 together make for a twenty minute excursion into a folkier landscape, with the violin now hinting at various traditional tunes whilst the guitar burbles like a brook across the obscured scene. When singer Laura Naukkarinen (Lau Nau) appears it is as if there is an ethereal figure wandering through the realm of the intangible. And if that’s a description that’s hard to grasp, well – do you recall Bo Hansson’s Sagan Om Ringen ? Well, imagine that but with all the electronic noise generators replaced with more organic sources and you’ll be more than halfway to imagining the expansive sounds that Dire Wolves create.
Excursions to Cloudland is an album likely to split opinion – if free-form wordless folky rock doesn’t appeal then it’s quite likely that you’ll hate this. Alternatively if you are one who is happy to set the controls for the heart of the sun or has ever grooved to the mesmeric sounds of Espers then this will be just your bag. Excursions to Cloudland is not an album to dip into – this recording both requires and deserves your full attention. So clear the decks, tune out reality and prepare for a journey to the outer reaches of imagination.