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Kelpe Cambio Wechsel Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

A journey to exciting territories beyond the beats-and-pieces norm.

Mike Diver 2009

Kelpe is the musical alter-ego of British artist Kel McKeown, whose dalliances with sound are producing some wonderfully wobbly, boisterous and bubbly fare – think Hudson Mohawke with the ADHD turned down and a comfy pair of slippers on, lighting a deserved cigar… with a blowtorch… while roasting road kill over an open fire.

Cambio Wechsel is his third album for DC Recordings, a label established by DJ and producer Jonathon Saul Kane in the mid-1990s to showcase the diversity that few get to hear within the genres of hip hop and electronica. This album’s tracks branch out to tickle the tastiest parts of said pigeonholes, its bleeps and squelches, glitch beats and truculent thuds merged into a tumultuous whole that’s, at times, as irresistible as Prefuse 73 or Flying Lotus’s most commended collections.

The oppressive, insatiable attack of Closed Cup Headroom is an instant standout, its alien clicks – think the prawns of District 9 messing about with vocoders – surrounding the senses and tightening their circle with each passing second, laser blast effects charring the ground just inches from their targets’ feet. After Gold is similarly cacophonous, but a lot easier on the nervous system – while these structures display similarities from piece to piece, it’s rare that one echoes the previous in an unappealing manner.

Like Bibio’s occasionally otherworldly album of earlier this year, Ambivalence Avenue, Cambio Wechsel’s flirtations with myriad motifs that rarely have a hand to hold elsewhere on the record can lead to the listener becoming rather dizzied by the experience. But when the shiny synth lines and distorted drum and bass fluctuations of Low Frequency Fumble, the treble-centric J Dilla skitter of Eye Candy Bath and the fidgety itchiness of Wind in the Windows are appreciated as individual arrangements, outside of an album context, Kelpe’s talents shine ‘til they threaten to blind and/or deafen.

As an all-in-one listen, there’s a lot to take in – perhaps too much. But treat Cambio Wechsel as a mixtape produced by a mind that simply can’t sit still and it’s a journey to exciting territories beyond the beats-and-pieces norm.

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