The Rummage

Tag: 2008

. issue XXIV : iv .

. 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


. issue I : v .

. artist : caravan palace .
. album : caravan palace .
. year : 2008 .
. label : wagram .
. grade : a minus .

Despite their rather intriguing birth from pornographic film scoring, Caravan Palace has introduced the French jazz scene to a refreshing flavor of upbeat electro swing jazz with their self-titled Caravan Palace (2008). This eclectic collaboration of musicians adds an interesting dubstep-esque harmonic accompaniment to the traditional gypsy jazz guitar music pioneered by Django Reinhardt. One would think these two genres would combine inharmoniously; however, Caravan Palace uses its bass drops and low-end acoustics tastefully, and so retains the traditional feel.

The striking album artwork (depicting a tin-man holding a vinyl LP above an old-style phonograph) will attract collectors to pick up the album, but it is the first two tracks “Dragons” and “Star Scat” that solidify the listeners’ love for this innovative musicianship. Arnaud Vial’s Freddie Green-style guitar begins the first track, and, with accents from Hugues Payin on violin, introduces the gypsy jazz theme. Quickly the song develops into frenzy as Charles Delaporte drops in on bass with electronic synthesizers overtop. The second track, “Star Scat,” throws the listener for a loop with a thematic dubstep interpretation of Louis Armstrong’s scat singing (later made still more famous by greats like Ella Fitzgerald) and features sliding melodic unisons on the violin and clarinet played by Camille Chapelière.

“Despite an innovative approach, Caravan Palace stays true to its gypsy jazz origins. The rest of the album is a surprising mix of rhythmic changes between cool jazz and hard-pressing boppy tunes. The ethereal voice of Colotis Zoé adds an interesting twist to many a song with her incredible range, quick vibrato, and full-bodied tones.”

Caravan Palace builds the listener’s intrigue with hit tracks such as “Je M’Amuse,” the single “Jolie Coquine,” and the up-tempo “Brotherswing.” While the lyrics may leave a bit to be desired, the melodic and jazzy improvisations of Payin, Chapelière, and Vial do not. They have a keen awareness of when and how to fill space and accentuate vocals or solos.

Caravan Palace keeps it lively and intriguing, and their self-titled debut will make any gathering exciting, whether you are waving your finger at a sock hop dance to offbeat gypsy rhythms or indulging in a cool, relaxing glass of wine at the poolside. If you like what you hear, their much-anticipated follow-up Panic (2013) has just been released on Wagram. Keep an ear open for this group — their new beats mixed with traditional stylings are certain to be top-charters in the future.

by Colin Greatwood