07 November 2012

Kemper Norton - Carn & Collision

Kemper Norton – Carn


Kemper Norton – Collision / Detection v6


It makes sense to review these together, since whatever the actual chronology of these songs, one begat another. They are linked to each other by a strange umbilicus, a slurry wurm of flesh. The self-released Carn shows us the Coilish side of Kemper’s sound; the voices here are muttered, liminal, lurking around in the dark. One track in and the loops are occasionally intersected with electronic scribbles and then leavened with added orchestral drone and beautiful hums. This all makes a perfect kind of sense if you imagine this is as a direct extension of the attempt at Folk on Coil’s Solstice releases. ‘Dorcus’ is a premonition of the Collision/Detection EP, a song I first heard when Kemper sang it live at an Exotic Pylon event. It wavers beautifully as much now as it did then, when it was perhaps the highlight of the set, and set him on a trajectory towards…

…the Collision/Detection release. There’s two tracks here – ‘Him’ and ‘Her’ – that exactly reconfigure Kemper Norton to a place where he was always headed. The voice comes out, reminding me a little of Woebot’s recent vocal incursions. Buy both of these releases and you’ll see what I mean. One bleeds into the other. They are not twins; one is the father, the other is the son.

Many of the previous EPs had their genesis in the drones/jazzdrums/flutery of the mid-period Four Tet albums (‘Colour the ocean pink’ on the Carn EP is an exemplar of this, even if the rest of the EP isn’t). They rattled away in different directions, for sure, but Hebden remained a silent spectre, just visible in the margins. The older EPs were headed towards a kind of unique Folk work but they seemed reluctant to really embrace it, to allow the tunes to speak for themselves. The songs were in there but hidden amongst the smoked bracken, deep in the wud.. As such, the old EPs were brilliant, often innovative, and occasionally magically unhinged but they didn’t feel quite so Kemper as this set. Here the songs sing, almost unhindered by the dark roots and clanking behind them. The music is there to allow the songs to rise to the surface, even if the Spirits are still flying around them. He lets his inner Unthank in and he pulls this daunting task off magnificently. I hope he keeps on this track; he’s the best person doing this kind of thing at the moment.

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