Druid Cloak is taking giant leaps in the game. Rapidly becoming amongst the most prolific of producers, the man billed from Moonstone Grove, United States has been making waves with his bootleg series, Club Cosmos, and recent EP for Bad Taste Records, Bastion Of The Sterling Thrones. In addition to this, there is the inception of his new record label, Apothecary Compositions. With the well-received release Espoir Voyage by 813 already under its belt, and another forthcoming in Madhouse by Imami, there is excitement aplenty on the horizon for this producer.
Druid Cloak operates best when he has a vision in mind. For example, on Bastion Of The Sterling Thrones, he told us the old story of a hero battling evil to save his true love and, to his credit, that comes across over the course of those three tracks. A year on from The Grove, his debut release on Kastle’s label, Symbols Recordings, we are invited to further explore the landscapes he’s created in Return To The Grove. As you’d probably expect from somebody called Druid Cloak, these landscapes are doused with ethereal fantasy and other-worldliness.
The opening track, “Netherdrake”, welcomes us back to the dancefloors of The Grove. A spot of atmospheric soundscaping gives way to a compelling four to the floor as staccato synths accent the driving bass. Druid Cloak spins the vocal sample here in a multitude of ways. The pitch is scattered to add to the texturing early on but we’re allowed to hear it in its full glory when the track is reset midway through, providing a moment of clarity before we’re whisked off again. Tropical boom-bap mutant “Ghost Iron” starts off with afrobeat percussion which is quickly dissected to show the track’s true colours. Its parts are evident all the way through the rise and fall but are hidden underneath brazen brass stabs, elegant piano and further evidence of Druid Cloak’s ability to screw a vocal. “Emerald Aura” is built around another vocal sample. This one utters “changes” at every turning of a corner as the percussion shuffles and something like the warped reminiscences of lift music set the atmospherics.
If “Emerald Aura” shows the residents of The Grove in the middle of their blissful afternoon nap, “Hearthstone” serves as a reminder that they can very much turn up. It isn’t immediately apparent, however, and it takes almost a minute for this track to reveal itself as borderline jersey club in its approach (although the bass isn’t as prominent as you’re likely to encounter with the stalwarts of that scene). Druid Cloak’s penchant for twisting vocals to suit his needs manifests itself again and makes “Hearthstone” a joyfully raucous, high energy affair. The final track, which finds Kill Frenzy remixing “Hearthstone”, doesn’t particularly belong with Druid Cloak’s vision of The Grove but is dancefloor worthy in it’s own right. It’s quite difficult to see what Kill Frenzy has used from the original but there’s a lot going on in this bombastic house number and certainly enough here to keep your head bopping/ feet stomping throughout it’s entirety.
Druid Cloak’s versatility is perhaps the thing that comes across most strongly over the course of this release but he’s not just flexing for the sake of it. Each one of these tracks, as different as they are, make as much sense in one continuous listen as they do should you pick and choose at your leisure. If you couple this with his growth as an artist since the release of The Grove and his dedication to putting out quality new music on the regular, it can only be a matter of time before Druid Cloak gets some more of the recognition he deserves.
Druid Cloak – Return To The Grove is out now on Symbols Recordings.