Ken Camden

Dream Memory

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Dream Memory Review

by Paul Simpson

On his third solo full-length for Kranky, Chicago-based space rock guitarist Ken Camden expands his scope a bit, trying out new techniques while still keeping in line with the meditative explorations of his previous works. His drone-based compositions attempt to blur the lines between organic and electronic textures, with guitars and synthesizers combining in order to form something truly supernatural. Dream Memory introduces a Mellotron-like vocal sampling instrument called the Vocaltron, which adds a further human element to Camden's earthy yet spacy sound. His previous solo albums, particularly 2010's Lethargy & Repercussions, featured a heavy Indian raga influence, with prominent usage of sitars, but only the acoustic guitar-based "Renewal" features that sound on this album. "Curiosity" features jittery synthesizer melodies and looped circular patterns heavily reminiscent of Terry Riley recordings such as "Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band." "The Melatonin Chamber" is eerie yet playful, taking the Cluster influence to trippy new heights. The gentle, warm arpeggios of "Brain Work" recall the melodic, unpretentious computer music of electronic pioneer Laurie Spiegel more so than the expected Krautrock/kosmische touchstones. The album's jaw-dropping finale "Asleep at the Wheel" is a sonic voyage echoing the space music of planetarium composer Jonn Serrie. As suitable for stargazing or zoning out as Camden's music is, it's always tightly controlled and inspired, rather than meandering or indulgent. Dream Memory continues Ken Camden's run of excellent solo excursions, demonstrating his masterful talents for creating a variety of otherworldly sounds.

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