Barry Cleveland’s music encompasses a variety of styles from art rock and world fusion to ambient and experimental.
His first commercial album was released on Larry “Synergy” Fast’s Audion Recording Company label. Mythos was cinematic in scope, combining layers of guitar with woodwinds, synthesizers, percussion, and bowhammer cymbalom, as well as making extensive use of Terry Riley-style tape looping. The follow-up, Voluntary Dreaming, ventured into world-fusion territory with its unique blend of guitar, electronics, African and Middle Eastern percussion, bowhammer cymbalom, and pedal-steel guitar.
During the ’90s, Cleveland was a member of the improvisational quintet Cloud Chamber, a group that included bassist Michael Manring, cellist Dan Reiter, percussionist Joe Venegoni, and multi-instrumentalist Michael Masley. Cloud Chamber performed throughout the San Francisco Bay Area for several years, and released the critically acclaimed Dark Matter in 1998. Cleveland also recorded material that would be released subsequently: Volcano (2004) combined African and Afro-Haitian percussion rhythms with progressive, jazz, and ambient influences; and Memory & Imagination (2003), a 2-CD compilation that combined nearly all of Mythos and Voluntary Dreaming, along with nine new looping compositions.
Hologramatron (Moonjune), released in 2010, spanned a musical continuum from art rock to ambient to avant-metal to psych pop, and featured a stellar lineup including bassist Michael Manring, drummer Celso Alberti, and pedal-steel guitarist Robert Powell, along with vocalist Amy X Neuburg and guest vocalists Harry Manx and Deborah Holland.
Cleveland was also an editor at Guitar Player magazine for 12 years and Mix and Electronic Musician previous to that, in addition to authoring the cult classic Joe Meek’s Bold Techniques, and contributing to Whole Lotta Led Zeppelin, the Illustrated History of the Heaviest Band of All Time. He also contributed 18 interviews to Stompbox: 100 Pedals of the World’s Greatest Guitarists, and his blog, The Lodge, resides on this website.
Cleveland’s most recent release, Mu, is a collaboration with French guitarist Richard Pinhas, also featuring Michael Manring and Celso Alberti. Unfettered by genre conventions, Mu combines entirely improvised music with Cleveland’s post-production compositional development. The four pieces unfurl as a confluence of overlapping musical currents informed by art rock, ambient, electronic, avant-garde jazz, and various world music inflections. He also contributed to Stephan Thelen’s Fractal Guitar, Fractal Guitar 2, and Fractal Guitar 3 albums, as well as remixing “Mercury Transit” for the Fractal Guitar Remixes album.
Stones of Precious Water, originally issued on cassette in 1986, was restored and released on vinyl by Morning Trip Records in 2020.
Cleveland’s compositions for picture have been featured on programs such as The Ellen DeGeneres Show, CNN International Asia, CNN International Europe, Erin Burnett OutFront, Crime Watch Daily, and Dr. Drew’s Lifechangers.