Mereki’s Death of a Cloud Rains Flower Petals and Thought
Mereki’s astounding debut solo album, Death of a Cloud, is the course of a thunderstorm. The Australian/English artist spent seven years collaborating with trusted musicians and pouring her heart into the ten track LP. It is a deeply internal album, but uses the personal as a vacuum to absorb the world around her with grace and humility. For Mereki, making the album was “like turning myself inside out, peering into the darkest corners of my soul and letting the light in,” and its listeners should allow themselves the same transformation.
“Wake Up Dead” opens to a sunrise of folk sounds, begging to take in the length of a moment. It stretches between the physical and mental, meeting one another on an acoustic afternoon. She places concreteness in a bedroom or speaking to a lover, but dresses it up in dreams and death, realms unlimited to the waking world. She finds herself anew, a clean slate for the album to grow from.
The following track, “Presence,” lifts us higher. It is the first place where piano gets to be the star, which later weaves itself into some of the album’s strongest moments. “Presence” is special because its sound is the essence of dream pop, but the lyrics call for the implementation of mindfulness and purpose. Especially following “Wake Up Dead,” “Presence” encourages imagination’s role in the day-to-day.
“Twin Flame” has the strongest trajectory and blend of composition on the album. The introduction is slow but anticipatory, striking a match. The line “I pray” builds upon itself like a flicker, but the song catches real fire at the beat drop. The flute riffs, featured in the chorus, keep the song punchy, but do not distract from the teamwork at play in the vocals, keys, drum kit and guitar, if anything enhances it. Written with the late Sam Mehran, “Twin Flame” holds something remarkable. Mereki hopes “he’s listening from the clouds.”
Track four, “Lilies of the Valley” produces a halo of sound over the emotions stirred thus far on the album. The guitar and accordion dip, fallen then caught, again and again. This aligns well with the lyrics, which are precious in their pleading. The song, as much of the album, is not lengthy, completing its wispy charm by ending when you still crave a little more.
“Phone Call” is the place on the album where the voice is clearest on its watchfulness, observing the observation rather than just the object itself. Dan Nigro, who worked on the song, says it “provided a safe space for the raw emotion.” It pays attention, and it does not waver even when things are cold, winter night lights reaching from house to house.
“Wasted Love,” contributed to by Bram Inscore, belongs right where it is, the center of the album. Bending the sound of a voice or an instrument conjures a wind of change, or things being different than they once appeared. This song waxes and wanes, vocally, when the song’s title is repeated in the chorus, and it tugs between succumbing or resisting an urge.
Picking up the pace of the narrative, “The Garden” has a tangible metaphor of heaven and hell. The beat is quicker and the chorus hypnotizes. The entire album is impressive in its thoughtfulness toward maintaining a sound that has the same feel of the storyline of the lyrics. “The Garden” touches on many of the record’s thematic consistencies, croning “I always knew that living was the cause of dying,” and then asking to “teach me please how to live like [Ladybird]” who sways with life instead of getting swayed by it.
“Purple Moons” has another undeniable moment of piano stardom. The instrument is carried gently, slightly solemn in a violet so dusky it’s almost pitch black kind of way. Paddling beside the piano are peaceful drums and the acoustic guitar. Once the vocals swirl around and through the breathy combination, “Purple Moons” ends like a drift off to sleep. Note by note, it enchants.
The album’s penultimate song, “End of the World” opens eerily on the piano, shifting its presence on the tracklist so far. However, working with Victor Le Masne, it lifts into an openhearted lyrical note in the chorus, different than the title may hint at. The vocals are high, but the instrumental swing low, and to listen to the combination is to embrace the bout of the unknown between one thing and another. It ends on a promise, and its placement as second to last is a notable choice. Because it is not, not in that moment, “The End of the World,” and the song aptly recognizes however often it feels to be so.
Things transform from one state to another. When the cloud disappears, it doesn’t mean it no longer exists, it has merely transcended into a new form.
Finally, “In Everything” starts slow. This draws out finishing the album, bracing for the hard truth of when the ethereal cornucopia of sound must come to an end. As it builds, “In Everything” easily becomes an all consuming finale. It has a submerging sound, acknowledging emotional vastness, “I know you’re everywhere, in everything,” and embracing it wholly.
The album knows itself, and completes a full journey by its closing. It provokes from within and conjures from without, and all introspection aside, it remains unequivocally enjoyable, pleasant to the ear and the soul. The release of Death of a Cloud aligns with Mereki’s exciting partnership with BMG. Alongside her own label, BunBun Records, Mereki is taking graceful strides in her career. With the advice of pop-goddess Cami Grey’s, for Mereki to be as weird as she wants, we don’t see her slowing down anytime soon.
To fall in love with yourself and the ground under your feet, listen to Death of a Cloud and watch the music video for “Wake Up Dead” below or check out her 1027 EP, “Beach” below.