05 June 2008
Kemper Norton Collective
The first CD from the Cornish / Su-Sex Kemper Norton Collective is out now. It's a beautifully packaged little artefact - mine came with a little introductory booklet and a sample of Cornish sand (thus invoking the fiery Gods of the Department for Anti-Social Insecurity and, perhaps, Fisheries).
Despite the deliberately fragmented nature of the release - Kemper himself features on most of the tracks but there's also stuff from the Rradiant Boys, Speckle, Loic Rich (whom I vaguely remember from my early years as a paranoid chaser; [Comments Deleted Due to Misplaced Freudery and Scatologics], Singularity Jones, employeeseven and Burnthouse - there's an inhouse feel to the crackling and slurtronics that seems to suggest a kind of Hive Mind at work... as if the Borg only assimilated FE teachers, Social Science researchers, computer technicians from 1973-1979 and Arthur Machen's godchildren, steeped in bedtime stories.
The collective vision seems to be one that evokes the dreaded hauntological word while channelling some of the sludgier aspects of Four Tet (the breakbeats are more often than not broken) and even Boards of Canada.
Of course, it doesn't sound like either of those bands but there's a fellowship there, a collective memory of what music might have sounded like, had things taken a turn for the worse.
Distant drones, crackles and water drips permeate several of the tracks, seemingly dragging up Salt Marie Celeste ghosts from the Cornish seabeds and then often letting them wander around abandoned fairgrounds and Morris Dancing competitions (the kind where rival troupes start swinging their sticks and flicking each others eyes out in debates about Olde English pronounciation). The Wicker Man, obviously, but I'm also hearing a film that I only just remember seeing, Carnival of Souls as well as that Dali dream sequence from Hitchcock's Spellbound.
That said, it's not especially dark - there's a brightness in amongst the occasionally overwhelming and overlapping sound and there's real songs in there, tiny psychfolk passages that break the tension. The raven on the cover gives only part of the picture.
Unprocessed found voices break through, BOC style and remind me a little of how they're used in The Advisory Circle and some of the better tracks on Mordant Music's Dead Air i.e. they sometimes work a little against the tracks but sound all the better for it.
It's not ecstatic music, not really danceable unless you're suffering from an Asperger's hangover and sometimes it gives you the giddy feeling that it might kind of topple over, taking you with it. A sleeping cow, covered in spiderspit. This might be what you hear when deaddrunk and trying to keep the the world from spinning. In a good way.
Go to his myspace site, pay the guy a little money - it's also very cheap! - delve deeply. If you like the stuff on this site you'll like this stuff. He's got a got a few celebrity fans and he'll get more...
You know you can't resist a conversation that begins with you saying: "Course, I was kinda into them a bit back in 07, after that they got a bit, well, commercial I thought... the old CDRs were great though, still play them all the time even if the dog gets a little boss-eyed..."