KELPE: Cambio Wechsel (DC Recordings)


Posted on Nov 10th 2009 12:54 am

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Kelpe: Cambio Wechsel

Cambio Wechsel
DC Recordings 2009
12 Tracks. 49mins09secs

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For over six years now, Kel McKeown has been at the helm of Kelpe, a solo project with which he continues to explore the confine of chilled instrumental melodic electronica propelled by hip-hop-infused beats. A first EP appeared on London-based DC Recordings in 2003, quickly followed by Sea Inside Body, a first album which established the template for McKeown’s sound. It took McKeown four years to publish his second album, Ex-Aquarium, with only a handful of appearances on compilations in between.

McKeown’s latest slice, delivered once again through DC Recordings, a year on from his last, continues to push deeper into Kelpe’s Technicolor universe. Equally at ease with elegant polished electronic textures and gritty or dissonant noises, he creates here a pretty effective soundtrack, invoking the spirit of everything from cold post-industrial experimental electronic music or sixties sci-fi pop to acid house and cinematic electronica, all combined into deceivingly peaceful little vignettes. In appearance, Kelpe’s music seems pretty inoffensive and, at times, almost too formulaic, especially on Caution Site, with its use of a public advisory message spread over guitar backdrop, but this is very much the strength of his work as he tricks the mind into a false sense of security, only to inject some gritty, fuzzy, dirty electronics deep in the mix and trigger some particularly successful mind-bending effects.

This is most apparent in tracks such as The Blankout Agreement, the slightly funkier Closed Up Headroom, powered by Voice Of The Seven Woods drummer Chris Walmsley, or the breezy and sixties pop-infused After Gold, where McKeown arranges his rich sound structures into dense soundscapes which never cease to mutate, reflecting ever more luxuriant tones through the course of their respective pieces. On Eye Candy Bath, this is pushed even further, to the point of vaguely evoking some of Boards Of Canada’s most upbeat moments. Elsewhere though, the amount of components used is more restrained. This is particularly the case in the second half of the record on the bleepy Low Frequency Fumble, with its primitive electronic flavour, or on the recent EP lead track Microscope Contents, which, despite its somewhat narrow soundscape, manages to be surprisingly playful and funky, thanks in part to a rather convincing groove and a series of bubbly bleeps. Despite this apparently restricted framework, the kaleidoscopic undertones of the record remain pretty intact.

Like with previous records, Kel McKeown has with Cambio Wechsel created a charming collection by organising his exploratory electronics into deceptively light and chilled constructions. Don’t get mistaken though, behind these tranquil contours and colourful attires lurks a perverse and sombre world which threatens to break through with no warning.


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