The Camodes - ‘The Inevitability of Obsolescence’ By Alex Fender-Peel
The experience starts from first opening the shiny, black, replica vinyl disc complete with faux grooves. As you carefully release if from its virginal polythene wrapper, the merch springs forth and a neatly packaged retro brown cardboard cover is revealed. The two complimentary pin badges with their military colourway and distinctive red star whet the appetite of political and historical focus. As you touch the faux ‘coin’ you are somehow reminded of the first time you saw a LSD tab. At this point curiosity is aroused, the quirky font, the images, the references on the cover you realise that you are about to be taken on a journey. You are very aware of the painstaking thought that has gone into executing this. You are ready to start and the thought of shuffling the tracks is not an option – sequence is key.
With play pressed – you wait patiently and are lured into the musicality of the experience by what feels like the excitement of visiting a fun fair as a child. Throughout the album, there are many moments where electronic sounds, like the shrill call of cockerel, punctuate performance and alert the listener to a change of direction. Each track offers twists and turns, light and shade, as traditional beefy sounds of bass contrast and merge with digital creations. When you go back to reflect and listen again there will often be a welcome surprise like the sweet sound of the bodhran drum. There are some excellent quick and quizzical moments of stellar guitar – there is a section on ‘Christmas in Chisinau’ that made my trousers flap like the first time I heard the whimsical Paul Gray bang out ‘Billy Bad Breaks’.
Lyrically there is an abundance of skill too. A fusion of culture, politic, feeling and humour. Words are woven together meticulously enabling the listener to drift away to the time or the place that is being suggested. In ‘Hungarian Folk Song’ one can almost reach out a feel the scene – for me it was a series of images in my minds eye that took me on a jaunty jig with a lady in full Hungarian costume clinging to her culture and lives simplicity in favour of all the challenges political unrest would deliver to her. This theme is replicated throughout the album. There is something grounding about the narrative. Clever use of onomatopoeia and rhyming styles add to the richness.
From a vocal perspective, The Camodes deliver this with the same precision. Through pronounced and sometimes appropriately exaggerated annotation, words are not lost and humour is hi-lighted. In ‘Trans Romanian Railway (Part 2)’ the pace and pitch used makes the listener feel they are speeding through the journey with a singing tour guide who uses a wide variety of tone to accentuate and mimic accents.
For me good music is about the words and music and the other senses it manages to ignite. It is about how it makes you feel and if it stimulates you enough to go away and reflect and explore. ‘The Inevitability of Obsolescence’ does just this. It takes you to a place which in these ‘unprecedented times’ we all need to peep in the window and look – one where obsolescence needs a moment on the ever-evolving agenda. Whether we are contemplating the destiny of Ian Holloway or mulling the often cold and sterile world of online dating surely there is still lots to consider especially when reflecting on the impact of power and politic on the people and on the fabric of the environment. The thoughts this album evokes, pass through the mind like a fast moving 70’s slide show. Each slide is though peppered with a humour and humanity that allows for a good few smiles amidst the sensory journey. After all aren’t the best trips those that leave you with curious contentment?