Monday, May 27, 2013

Camp Counselors - Huntress (2013)

If I'm being totally honest, my discovery and initial listening to Cemeteries frontman Kyle Reigle's side project Camp Counselors was inspired by little more than a sort of dare. Despite the fact that Reigle was incredibly proud of it, when discussing Huntress he seemed almost certain that it wouldn't be liked, especially by me in particular. Described loosely as a set of half-inaccessible jumble of rather synth-heavy tunes inspired by old John Carpenter movies and other horror movie soundtracks, I'll say I wasn't really all that interested in the project until Reigle specifically singled me out as a potential detractor. Challenge freaking accepted.

To Reigle's surprise as well as my own, when he released the virtual 7" featuring the two Huntress tracks "02/05/11" and "Oslo", I was drawn in. Maybe it was mostly in part due to my love of intelligently-approached concepts, but though I didn't go absolutely crazy about the digital single when I heard it I made a mental note to actually check out Huntress. It wasn't until I heard the next single "Attean" featuring Psychic Twin's Erin Fein that I knew for sure that my interest in the album was something more than just curiosity and a strange sort of defensive reaction to being told flat out I wouldn't like something before I had even given it a taste.

Truthfully, I can't imagine why Reigle would be that nervous about the accessibility of Huntress. Even without an extensive knowledge of all the horror movies and their compositions that inspired the album or a like of electronic music in really anything but the most basic capacity, there's really not much to dislike in Huntress. The Camp Counselors record performs in a similar way to Reigle's Cemeteries work - mostly seamless texture-laden tracks that are oddly moving despite occasionally obscured lyrics. You don't have to make out what Reigle is singing exactly to be effected by what's going on musically and that's the signs of some pretty top notch musicianship.

Filled with Reigle's increasingly characteristic swooping vocal lines (and Fein's on the aforementioned "Attean") but grounded by meaty, bass-y synth lines, Huntress is a rather solid half hour of music. The majority of the album's tracks stretch across more than your standard 3 minute radio-friendly fare but they don't seem excessive in that regard, gently unfolding unfettered by any notion of time constraint; how music is supposed to. Even the album's interludes "An Absence" (the first part of the track "An Absence/Fawn"), "Stained Glass", and "An Absence #2" feel like they belong, giving the album a consistent flow. Huntress is a pretty strong album regardless of where your interests lie, able to stand on its own merits apart from its pretty neat concept. A hallmark of a great concept record.

You can listen/stream/download the first album Huntress from Cemeteries' Kyle Reigle's Camp Counselors side project via Bandcamp. The album is out today digitally with a physical release to soon follow on Reigle's own Snowbeast Records.

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