“Carn” by Kemper Norton is a swirling, hypnotic electronic release that is deeply layered with some inspired samples … a release that needs to be experienced … with any form of written or verbal explanation inevitably falling short of an eloquent description. I will, however, try.
According to their Bandcamp page, “Carn” is …
‘…Born of personal experience and “based around two uncanny experiences I had at two different locations – one in Cornwall, one in Sussex…” Carn’s self-defined slurtonic world encompasses drone, glitch, drift, folk song and divine melody.’
“Carn” is an abstract wonderland of found-sound and self-defined expression, one that builds upon drones and finds glitchy rhythms in the most unlikeliest of places … it confounds & challenges & comforts all at the same time … a strangely hypnotic, almost transcendent experience where traditional notions of melody have been abandoned in favour of the moment.
That is until we arrive at track 5 – “Dorcus” – and we hear a song with all the hallmarks of an obscure folk number, a sea-shanty built on a drone accompaniment. Kemper Norton’s singing is endearingly simple & heartfelt, fitting nicely the drone throughout and with the field recording of rain at the end. This is a contradictory moment & yet it feels so right to be in the middle of “Carn”.
More vocals appear of “windwept” … this time they are over-layered and more in keeping with abstract nature of “Carn” …. yet, ironically, don’t work as well as the earlier sea-shanty. Too broken, I guess?
The unconventional nature of the album is it’s greatest strength, moving as it does from the ambience of tracks like “nucker hole 1” to the swirling nonsensical hallucinations of “seven times around” with crazed vocals spouting numbers, hints of eastern instrumentation and the most delightful of percussive backbeats.
Beats reappear in “farisee” … deep, bassy beats that accompany drifting layers of sound and hypnotise the listener, dragging them deeper into the recording … before the track morphs almost unrecognisably into a crescendo of noise.
The album culminates in the final track – “uncounted” – a delightful ambient expression with further number-orientated vocal samples, glitchy percussive moments and a lilting drone.
To say I have enjoyed “Carn” by Kemper Norton would be an over-simplification … I have experienced “Carn” and have come away wanting more.
This is not an easy record to consume … but it is a rewarding one for those who last the course. I am glad I did.
Recommended for folks who like their music leftfield, abstract & experimental.