Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Camberwell Now- All's Well[1983-1987]

Let it be known that I'm a big fan of Charles Hayward. The man has a background including Gong(big plus here), Quiet Sun(with Manzanera of Roxy Music), and the incomparable This Heat. He's also got a fairly extensive solo career, and has played with Tatsuya Yoshida of Ruins, among others.

Camberwell Now formed after This Heat died in its prime, and immediately, there were signs that this group would be a bit "out there". Hayward's vicious drumming, bass-as-guitar from Trefor Goronwy(worked with Huun-Hurr-Tu, one of the more well-known Tuvan throat-singing ensembles), and sound technician Stephen Rickard's tape-switchboard, along with the hyper-political, far-left, and insanely clever and biting lyrics seen in This Heat-- it was an odd combination.

That said, Camberwell Now made a brand of post-punk that was very, VERY post, but also had a visible thread of punk woven throughout. They only released one album and two EPs, but most of the material is gathered here, on All's Well. Opener "Cutty Sark" is vocals and a drone, eventually joined by tambourine, and it's about a naval cartographer- it's awesome. "Spirit of Dunkirk" is a lock-groove percolation of tape, drums, and half-moaned vocals-- again, awesome. "Resplash," a reworking of an early track entitled "Splash", is an eight-minute groove consisting mostly of a recurring bassline, autoharp, reverbed tape loops, and running water samples, yet manages to stay compelling by subtly screwing with the loops to change around the rhythms.

There are more high-energy, uptempo tracks here- "Daddy Needs a New Throne", "Working Nights", "Sitcom", and "Green Lantern" all snarl over bouncing basslines, often breaking into a new rhythm every few seconds. These are actually among my favorite tracks here, and it's a sound that Camberwell Now pulled of well.

I'm not a huge fan of the material from the "Greenfingers" EP, but it has its merits, namely in the lyrics and use of tape sampling.