Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Kam Kama on Sister Cylinder Records
Like Per Ubu coming out of Cleveland, OH, there's really no geographical explanation for Kam Kama to have developed their cold, minimal, post punk sound in Bloomington, Indiana. It isn't a popular or trendy sound and to pull it off requires a lot of patience and careful planning. You have to approach it with a surgeon’s precision and this two song single is the perfect introduction to the impressive place they’re already starting from.
The bass line on "Passer-by” throws this completely into Joy Division territory with speed. I get the sense they reference those sad bastard origin sounds but update the core alienation like The Feelies or Pylon's nervous manic energy turned rhythm. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a decidedly American slant to that Manchester reaction to punk. As much as this sounds like The Fall in economy and tone, there's a contemporary scrappiness and authenticity that doesn't seem concerned with any sort of prescribed image. It reminds me of Relations on 100m records, it's classic modern; nodding to giants like the Wire. A Police chorus guitar and spastic high hat sweep this right into late '80s pop. The vocal from Scott, who’s on bass, is high like it was recorded at the wrong speed. The drums are perfectly coated with a layer of decades of thin treble; the cymbal crashes are heavily gated in a quick chooosh. It's a sound that feels human but a stunted, ancient version of the future that is definition post punk. It makes perfect sense that the bass is propelling this headfirst into "You’re an awful face / you’re an awful face / you’re an awful mouth / you’re an awful mouth" bringing to mind the fast, demented pop of "Six Different Ways" from Head on The Door. It's hard to put a finger on, but they're doing everything right
with their mix of synth, chorus washed guitar and layered, brittle vocals. Its a bleak future with an edge that’s going to cut you.
"Joseph Stride" introduces the washy chorus to the plush bassline and a chime electric is used so sparingly it has to be chord clusters palmed on a DX7. (There's no synth listed in the liner notes, which I find even more unbelievable, just two guitars?) Scott's vocal is quieter right in the middle without structure to support this, well that's not true exactly, there's a scaffolding of mid tempo and evolving electric cleverly crafting platforms and jabs at a persistent melody. His vocal captures that perfect cold, doubled up sound with a cloudy chorus and the last movement of guitars changes into playing off one another while the punctuation hits of a big finish comes in with odd chords and just signs off. It’s playing with darkness, but attempting to come off as sunny and pop filled as anything.
In their press release they say for fans of 'classic 4AD' and the comparison is perfect in my book, its a measured sound that does everything in its power to not get too emotional and fails while delivering on this fragmented pop sound.
Out today, get it from Sister Cylinder Records, they play Cameo Gallery in Williamsburg tomorrow night, and I am definitely going to see this in person, and grab that 12".