Crack Cloud is a multimedia collective, comprising members from different cities, ethnicities and origins, who contribute to the sound, visual aesthetic and beyond – but their latest release, Anchoring Point, is helmed by seven key members. Taking its sonic influence from the likes of Gang Of Four, Fela Kuti and Talking Heads, its visuals from hip hop and the found footage aesthetic of the ‘90s, and its political ethos from thinkers like Malcolm X and Lydia Lunch, Anchoring Point is a barbed, lurching thing, a cacophony of punchy fragments, funk-laced bass riffs and experimental soundscapes. “We wanted to be expressive in a way that could be erratic but cohesive at the same time,” explains Choy. “Emotionally, it zig-zags. We wanted it to take a life of its own; a life in flux.”
There’s a political undertone to much of Anchoring Point – its lyrics, its sound, even the EP’s artwork, which declares itself to be “how they refer to the latest vendible thing from Crack Cloud. For fun and profit!” But if there’s an agenda to their music, says Choy, “the agenda is humanity and compassion. We invite people to meditate openly about their privilege. Their vice. Their pride and their vulnerability.” Both he and partner Mohammad Ali Sharar are immigrants who struggled with addiction – Choy’s triggered by the death of his father, Mohammad Ali from the cultural turbulence that came from the racism he experienced from outside his community, and the rejection from within it when he started to question Islam. They’ve redefined themselves in sobriety and work together in the mental health industry, facilitating safe spaces based on the harm reduction model for vulnerable and marginalized people in Downtown Vancouver. Crack Cloud is informed by these experiences, past and present.
These experiences inform the work in ways Choy and the collective don’t always attempt to tame or control. ‘Empty Cell’, for example, is a “stream-of-consciousness piece,” made up of different voices from different angles. It follows EP opener ‘Graph Of Desire’, a punky duet of sorts, with shades of early Bowie, that comes in at just a minute and a half long, and precedes ‘Image Craft’, which has a melody like a ticking clock and a video that evokes Lynch’s Eraserhead. “Each song on Anchoring Point,” says Choy, “is one piece of the pie.”
And what does the pie as a whole look like? Choy’s not sure exactly. “It creates a messy picture. We hope people can resonate with its messiness. Thoughts and feelings are ephemeral and there is always a new insight to have and a new connection to be sought after, and it’s a celebration of that. Old and new. And the Anchoring Point in-between.”