On his fifth album, The Curved line – Kelp, aka London producer Kel McKeown, doesn’t reinvent the electronic wheel, rather just polishes his own version of it a little bit. He’s long been able, as seen through his various releases on labels such as DC Recordings, Black Acre, Fremdtunes, Svetlana and Myor, to produce these rather beautiful soundscapes using laid back hip-hop beats mixed in with the blissed out jazzy stylings of Bonobo, and the trippy experimentalism and bubbling electronica of Flying Lotus.
Out on August 28th on his own DRUT label, which he christened back in 2013 with his previous album ‘Fourth: The Golden Eagle’, The Curved line is an album which sees Kelpe come to the fore as an artist on a par with the likes of his illustrious contemporaries. Opening track Doubles of Everything see’s these eerie, echoey piano chords dominate under a bubbling background of ever increasing synth and basslines to make something thats warmer and sunnier than could have been envisaged at its rather icy inception.
Follow on Chirpsichord, one of the albums stand out tracks, is similarly warm, despite these tumbling synth lines and bleeps and sighs in the background. As it goes on the bassline takes the melody, albeit a uneasy and restless one, until it swirls to an end. Calumet fizzes in and out of focus over a house beat, complete with claves and other assorted percussive noises, and shows McKeown at his most ambient and minimal, whilst sick lickle thing has this almost psychedelic sheen about it, flickering, blinking in the light almost as it lays down tunes (and lovely ones at that) on similarly gently oscillating synths.
Reaching the halfway point of the ten track album, Red Caps of Waves is edgy and at times aggressive, despite the melodious nature that Kelpe manages to tease out of it, as shards of chords move in and out of time with eachother, as fragments of vocal and sea noises are draped skillfully over the top. The brilliant Valerian dazzles with the layers of percussion over these incredibly slow moving chords and buzzing basslines, whiles Drums for Special Effects uses just that as a stripped back opening before laying some of the juciest, warmest chords heard on the album down, and adding this blurry piano to the mix.
The album plays out from that point with similar gorgeous escapist soundscapes, before finishing with the delightful, sparkling closer Incantation. And with that, Kelpe can sit back, safe in the knowledge that with The Curved Line he has created something that is brilliantly produced, skillfully woven, and totally lovely to listen to.