A&M's 32-track retrospective of eccentric singer/songwriter Cat Stevens manages to cram into two discs what 2001's On the Road to Find Out box set tried to accomplish over four. While not as informative or "rarities"-heavy, Gold tells the artist's story with utter succinctness, from earnest, post-counterculture semi-hedonist to Islamic recluse. All of the key tracks – digitally remastered from the original two-track masters – are here ("Wild World," "The Wind," "Another Saturday Night," "Moonshadow," "Where Do the Children Play?") as well as deeper cuts like "18th Avenue (Kansas City Nightmare)" and all 18 minutes of "Foreigner Suite." Also included is Stevens' most recent composition. Originally released as a digital download, the emotional and surprisingly rousing "Indian Ocean" was recorded for Stevens' Small Kindness charity to benefit children from the Aceh region who were affected by the December 2004 tsunami.
Cloud Becomes Your Hand makes music that elicits vocabulary of physical space more than that of music. Listening to the eight tracks on Rest In Fleas feels like wandering through a strange and fantastical landscape inhabited by swarming insects, visions of childhood blankets, a storm at sea, and a shroom growing out of a shoe under a boulder. As you might have guessed, the Brooklyn-based band borrows heavily from psychedelic music and its more art-inclined cousin, prog-rock, and its structures meander journey-like through futuristic synths, retro flutes, and other voices. Each new instrument and lyrical image feels like an encounter with an otherworldly being.