I had the distinct and refreshing pleasure to attend a house concert tonight featuring Quiles and Cloud. The duo quite nearly defy description; flitting between singer/songwriter, folk, Americana, jazz, a twist of blues, and other less clearly defined musical genres with a deft and gentle sure-footedness.
There were five instruments on stage: two voices, two guitars, and a single large-diaphragm condenser mic. I say this because Quiles and Cloud use each of those elements equally in their performances to convey the emotion of their songs. Their level of expression onstage is like nothing I’ve ever encountered in a live show. They caress their instruments; moving them around in the sound field to emphasize certain sections, while muting others. Their voices melded in shimmering, mesmerizing symmetry as they wove their bodies back, forth, and around each other; placing each tone in perfect proximity to the microphone, which dutifully and warmly took their sound and lovingly gave it to the room with smoldering depth, stunning clarity, and incredible nuance. This is a duo that knows how to use the equipment to sonic perfection.
Maria Quiles is possessed of a rich, clear, and very malleable voice. Her lusty alto-mezzo placement was always exquisitely tempered with just enough air injected into the sound; if she was soft and blending, there was a gentle breeze blowing through it, and when she needed clarity, she was able to effortlessly crackle with sudden, rippling steel. Her rhythm guitar was well-informed, impeccably timed, and delicately placed to always provide the perfect bed for the rich vocals.
Rory Cloud has a mild, clear tenor, not unlike Jon Vezner, with resonance, clarity, and micrometered pitch control. His lead guitar was the special spark – he is Quiles’ Maury Muehleisen. Not a single misplaced note; I was especially taken with his soloing choices. Always just enough, never excess, never “look at me”. Every carefully placed note was selected for its ability to serve the song and serve the sound, and yet every note flashed with innovation, style, and a palpable sense of personality. He delivered powerful tension and release, diving in between tightly controlled vocal harmonies to entice with gentle dissonance, and comfort with delightful resolution. Unexpected harmonic turns spiced the performance liberally.
Quiles and Cloud are a formidable songwriting team, each bringing exceptional skill and emotional depth to the song crafting. I was especially taken with “Julie, I’m Alive” – not a breath was drawn in the room until they finished. Their love for each other is very clearly expressed in their performances; they disappear into the world they create with voice, string, and microphone while the audience is transported with them - breathless with anticipation for the next note.
You can see Quiles and Cloud this Sunday, April 26th 2015 at 6:30PM as part of the Listening Room Festival Finale at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg. www.listeningroomfestival.com