Ken Camden: Lethargy & Repercussions

Lethargy & Repercussions, the debut release by Chicago-based Ken Camden (also a member of the Implodes sound quartet), perpetuates kranky's recent gravitation towards kosmische musik-styled electronic psychedelia. Almost entirely recorded in real time with no overdubs, the recording feels like an informal, fifty-minute session spent in Camden's company with the guitarist guiding the listener through six long-form exercises in eastern-oriented trance music and academic electronic music-making. Though the sound-generating devices Camden purportedly uses on the album are guitar (effects-laden, presumably), synthesizers, sitar, and harmonium, the tracks sound like they're built primarily from early modular synthesizers more than anything six-string-related. There are exceptions, of course: “Raga” uses a sitar-like drone as a base for Camden to wax ecstatic in an entranced electric guitar rumination that stretches across much of the piece's eight-minute running time. Elsewhere, “Birthday,” like an early kosmische musik exploration, blends chiming, organ-styled melodic patterns into a transporting meditation that's more than a little immersive, while shards of metallic slivers and electronic tones, suggestive of stars shooting across night skies, shudder and echo throughout “In Your Ears” and “New Space.” Recorded as a duet for two guitars, “Jupiter” swells for twelve minutes like an immense celestial mass of Ligeti-like tonal modulations. This most epic of the album's pieces argues powerfully for the potency of Camden's conception.

May 2010