Roam The Hello Clouds is a young group that came about almost by accident. Clear back in 2003,Sydney-based drummer Laurence Pike (of Triosk) was paired up with Perth laptop artist Dave Miller and trumpeter Phil Slater for a one-off performance at the Sydney Opera House. The three met up again the following year for another show, and sometime after that decided that they'd see if they could somehow capture the essence of their live improvisation in a studio session.
Near Misses is the result of one full day in the studio after only two shows under their belts, and it belies the longterm musical history of the three members. The ten track, fifty minute release contains a good many mind-blowing moments and fortunately not nearly as much wankery as one might expect given the circumstances of its creation. "Phases" opens the release, and it doesn't even start things off with a bang as a gurgling sub-bass rolls underneath live drumming and fractured processed hits that sparkle around the edges while Slater's trumpet wafts over it all. It never really comes together, but "Geoff As The Hulk" follows and finds the group locking into just under five minutes of goodness as crisp drumming locks in with more assertive trumpet while Miller adds all kinds of random weirdness on the laptops. On the track, the silence between the notes and drum hits is just as exciting, with precision gaps that will elicit a little gasp.
"Sprinter" is even better, with Miller adding both real-time processing and little hints of sound from their past performances together. The whole track works in sort of a stop-start motion that's only held together by some great trumpet work by Slater, and as the track moves along, it's like a sonic knot tightening as all the instrumentation seems to pull together more tightly. On the other side of the equation is the ambient "Death And Possible Dreams," which takes the percussion almost completely out of the mix but really lets the laptop and trumpet team up for some exquisite textural beauty.
If there's a downfall to the release, it's in the running order. After an opening half with plenty of cracking drums and moments of dynamic instrumental interplay, the second half feels like it almost completely sets things on cruise control as "A Life Of Near Misses" rambles on for far too long before locking into a cracking ending while both "Supply" and "Twenties In The Eighties" roll with low-slung basslines and rather standard percussion while horns from Slater sound much more traditional. Much more successful is the great "Uniform 64," which mixes a great deal of sonic trickery (including some great rhythmic shifts, some glitchy breakdowns, and a frazzled horn ending) into only five minutes. Considering this was carved out of only a days worth of work, it's a testament to the artists involved. There are places where it sags a bit, but fans of Triosk and lovers of jazz/electronics hybrids should eat this one right up.