When Kelpe started to release records (he published two of the most precious electronica records I have enjoyed the most over the last ten years, “Sea Inside Body” (DC Recordings, 2004) and “ExAquarium” (2008)), he suffered all kinds of comparisons to Boards Of Canada, which set him up as a talented follower but without the oomph of the big guys. I suppose it hasn’t been easy for him to live and work in such an extended shadow. Kel McKeown has accompanied me on many a trip, nights spent burning the midnight oil, his music is balsamic and I appreciate him a lot and I thank him for it. Maybe when you listen to him it doesn’t have the impact of other greats –like Bola or BoC–, but his aquatic IDM with hip-hop structures and lullaby melodies has always been honest, beautiful and imaginative. His name circulates within bedroom electronica aficionado circles and has always been held in high esteem. Now, apparently off DC completely, Kelpe enters the territory of Team Acre and he does so renewing his sample arsenal.
For example, instead of hip-hop, he now uses 70’s psychedelica and prog-rock, something he shares with other sample magicians like The Gaslamp Killer and Andy Votel –the typical sound of the Twisted Nerve label, in fact, comes out on “No Film”, where the percussion is played by Chris Walmsley, from the band Vowels. The new Kelpe EP is more solid and less liquid, and refers to people like Four Tet: the beats are fatter, there are more analogue keys and the feeling of live improvisation is bigger, with spacey unruly synthesisers ( “Toy Castle”) and more jazz ( “Taps On”). It’s a well made 12”, well led and it sounds wise. Kelpe deserves an opportunity and new listeners.