Ken Camden - Lethargy & Repercussions

Ken Camden is a member of post-rock band Implodes, but his solo project is something for the weekend.

Released Mar 29th, 2010 via Kranky / By James Labous
Ken Camden - Lethargy & Repercussions Ken Camden fuses the mystery of Eastern scales with Krautrock and Karl Stockhausen inspired themes, yet his sound remains futuristic, like a zany party from a passage in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. If experimental mini-albums - recorded in real time with no overdubs and no percussion - are your thing, then read this.

Chicago based label Kranky Records are perhaps best known for signing ambient punk band Deerhunter, but they’ve also gained a reputation for taking risks with unknown avant-garde artists.

Ken Camden is a member of post-rock band Implodes, but his solo project is something for the weekend. On Lethargy & Repercussions he uses guitar effects to produce atmospheric soundscapes and dialogues between melodies and drones. Sound experimental enough for you?

What is most extraordinary about Lethargy & Repercussions is the fact that all the songs (with the exception of final track ‘Jupiter’) were recorded in one take, using just one guitar, though you could listen to this record several times without attributing a single note to one.

The playing technique of Camden and his application of guitar effects certainly creates original sounds, and the single take approach adds authenticity. Even better though, artistic intent is matched here by great music.

The absence of any percussion goes unnoticed throughout this record – if anything it allows space for other sounds to swirl and glide into your ears. There is a rhythmic quality to the instrumentation in any case, with the pulsating metallic sound of Camden’s guitar on ‘Raagini Robot’ perfect for those reflective moments at three am on a Saturday morning.

Fridge-esque opener ‘Birthday’ is a joyously simple exploration of positive emotion - the drone resembles a sitar and compliments mellow sounds that could be fragmented memories of childhood birthdays.

Like ‘Raagini Robot’, ‘New Space’ builds into a tumultuous crescendo and sounds like a song from a trippier scene in The Mighty Boosh (without being too silly), perhaps when aliens are landing or something.

Indeed, like Bowie and Pink Floyd before him, Camden has clearly been inspired by the idea of space and space travel in his music. Closing track ‘Jupiter’ is an all out homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey! And it is perhaps during these moments that the music should be described as “interesting” rather than particularly enjoyable.

Nevertheless this is a worthy addition for any open minded music collector who is willing to give droning soundscapes a chance. For any fans of Sir Richard Bishop out there this is an essential purchase – rich, varied, occasionally mesmerising in its monotony, and always mysterious