. issue XXIV : iv .

by barathron

. artist : camp .
. album : doubts .
. year : 2008 .
. label : no type .
. grade : b plus.


The expansive, colorful whimsy of eclectic mastermind David Turgeon is evident on his second effort under the moniker Camp. It’s a pop-and-crackle breakbeat course of moguls of haptic sound that project and retract. There’s no slope here, just the straight lines of midi channels.

“Bom Bom” gets off to a strong start, bouncy braille stamping the listener’s auditory cortex with uniquely spatial beats perfect for headphones — crisp and crystal clear. Then the busier “Benchmarks,” with its electro current and door squeak and shellac speedbump samples, shows what Camp can do. “City Life” drags a curl of atmospherics in the wake of a clave and high-hat beat, with bisyllabic androgenous vocals repeat, cocktail stirrers and Salvation Army bells.

“Living in Sleep” is not as evocative as it is fun; well-played ethereal vocals fluctuate in time to each amended channel’s various rhythms, as though they’re melded to the sounds. It’s a great idea and it plays well in the whole process of dance music — like addendums, like knitting for beats — and here we have it between one sample and most every subsequent beat, just as identity is subject to and responsive within a dream. If the vocalist is doing any “Living in Sleep,” it’s too-pleasant, the sonic equivalent of shopping for potpourri and loofas. But the vocals aren’t the only dynamic sound — the spine of the piece is a motile swish paired with a snap-shut home-run-delivering-clack. It’s Doubt’s most texturally-nebulous track, and refreshing in its utter guilelessness.

“Flip Flop” quite explains Camp’s entire m.o., but now that we’ve seen the extent of Turgeon’s vision and skill, the song doesn’t begin to live up to its name until a tantalizing evolution one-third of the way through, convolving into something horrid from the 80’s, a synthy shallow glissando against an autistic piano solo of chopstick monotony, transmitter short-outs, bombastic electro-bongo stimulation, in short, a challenge to the listener’s comfort. But the sheer eclecticism of “Flip Flop,” and the fact that it’s so obviously posed as a ridiculous encounter on the listener’s obstacle course, makes welcome these absurd few minutes in this wonderfully inclusive, warm album you had begun to feel entitled to. Also, a mirrorball melodic line arrives to make the pieces mesh and save the day.

“Long Story Short,” besides having a great title that captures the colloquial charm of Camp, is a piece most typical for the genre but atypical for Camp, and so, after this journey, manages to feel completely novel. It’s more spacious and clappy, with a barely-there diminutive beep of a heart monitor or a 90’s wristwatch timer and a stutter — like insect’s wings in your face — that almost oblige you to a heart monitor. It’s a terrifically efficacious effect, causing the listener to reflexively pull back from the ‘insect’ of familiar association. If we needed proof that Camp’s stimuli were spot-on…. Drumkit blocks and a teeny splash cymbal tolls the listener out over beeps and fanning, panning stop-motion textures.

Oxymoronically, Doubt is an utterly redoubtable offering, both a challenge gentle in its listenability and obstreperous in its restless, refreshing squarewave trot. And there’s cowbell.

by Brittany Tracy