cLOUDDEAD has always been more dream than reality, another corporeal offering from the Anticon family meant to evaporate into pleasant memories after spinning its tales of dislocation, alienation and artistic redemption. So when the group proclaims that Ten, the follow-up to their stunning 2001 self-titled debut, will be their last record as a group, it doesn't come as a shock. "We're all still quite close," says Dose One. "It's a mature stage, but it's also separate." What's surprising about Ten, though, is how whimsical and upbeat it sounds. Unlike its predecessor, which charted the malaise the trio experienced while living in Cincinnati, OH, this effort finds them to be successful and content musicians prospering in Cali's East Bay. Even "Dead Dogs Two," where Dose One and Why? trade images like "To be a Rin-Tin-Tin dog/Blood breathing on the side of the highway" in singsong harmonies, illustrates a black comedy of random, sensationalistic violence instead of morbid wordplay. Meanwhile the music is solidly entrenched in indietronica territory, a sound that producer Odd Nosdam describes as a "wall of drone" and eschews the previous album's space-rock-hop vibe.

Ten's unabashedly pop gaze belies the difficulties the trio underwent to complete it. After finishing up their first LP, cLOUDDEAD immediately began working on the new album, only to abandon it for their own respective projects - Dose One with his group Themselves and Why? and Odd Nosdam with their solo albums. "The three of us weren't getting along," says Why? He and Odd Nosdam had moved out to Oakland to live with Dose One in 2000, and they lived and worked together until tensions brought the project to a halt, where it lay until over a year later. It's ironic, then, that Ten is so lighthearted and lyrically varied. "I think it's much more mature in terms of lyrics than the first cLOUDDEAD album," says Why?

Now, after earning a fervent fan base in Europe and counting admirers like Boards of Canada (who remixed "Dead Dogs Two") and Hood, the trio are splitting into different yet parallel paths. "We still have this magic together," says Dose One, who is now turning his attention to his post-rock band Subtle, "but everything in our lives as artists started to drift."


Mush Records