21 year old Georgia native, Tennessee resident Christopher Kamas, known strictly by his last name Kamas is a Lo-Fi by Default artist who’s no stranger to the independent music scene. Known for his earlier releases via an official Bandcamp page, his latest 2012 release, Cerulean, has been properly released to a warm audience in it’s ironically digital-only glory (more on that statement later). The result? A jaw dropping collection of downtempo soaked ambient and heavily electronic numbers that explore polar sonic opposites within the same track span and dive deep into analog distortion and pitch bending that represent a stark, dismal emotional surface, while contrasting in representation of an extrasolar light under the grit of it’s dark exterior.
The appropriately titled opening track “Horizon” builds in a medium sized pad fade in before it empties into a temperate bass energy, complete with minimal rhythmic and human voice sampling elements. In contrast to it’s modest mixing technique, “Phillr” provides a more resonance feel in it’s glitch-esque sampling. The two, drastically different, do have an analogue tape feel and even contain clicks that help give the tracks stability and seamless blend from one track to another.
It’s quite clear from the first few tracks of Cerulean that this album is experimental and completely unique sounding to its genre. Although it does barrow from trip-hop influences, especially through the downtempo feel of “Radar East” and “Come Visit”, the interweaving of sound manipulation by means of warping the completed composition adds a breath of fresh air and quickly separates Kamas from the majority of Electronic music contemporaries.
Inklings of Boards of Canada do sneak through the cracks every now and then, channeling the duo a bit in “Don’t break it anymore” and also venturing toward their sonics with the static sounding song “Track Titled 5 But Got 6”, which is a short interlude track compised mostly of bass that fades into a following song, even shorter, but more melodic and called “Cloudland Canyon”. The two compliment each other well in that, just like the beginning two songs of Cerulean, they’re radically obscure from one another. The most Sandison inspired track seems to be “This Isn’t Just a Dream There’s Like Molecules and Stuff (featuring Powernap)” which carries one of the more mainstream sounding tunes of the record and provides a chill out vibe with layers and compression intricacies that need to be explored on several listens.
One of the more accessible and whole songs on the 2012 Kamas record is “Infinity Museum” which not only provides more of a traditional song structure, but also introduces several different genres that are interconnected into a single sound source. From a stereo sounding glitch opening, to drone stylings, and a standard beat, the ninth track demonstrates a feeling of eeriness, a connection with the darkness through lower sounding field-eseque recordings that come together to pull through a variance in direction with an optimistic melody that rides just below a head nodding percussive section that carries the songs drive and command. By the end, it’s the reverberation that carries out the track before it’s toned down to it’s meek beginnings. A return to form, but still bent out of shape and a slight morph and maturity in it’s final moments.
It’s interesting to note that “Ambient Piece For A film” was done in one take. Straight from a statement to us from Kamas, he declared “the song ‘Ambient Piece For A Film’ was the most out there I’ve done, being the fact that it’s all done live and in one take. I was twisting knobs and playing notes all at the same time, which is why there isn’t a lot of melody changes.” Considering this seems to be one of the more intricately put together pieces on Cerulean, it’s clear that a strong sense of humanistic appeal is poured into it and not just technically. Christopher continued, “[the song] was created after a long day of self loathing over where I was going with life, and out of all the cliches I was curious if I should stop making music or not.” Finally, he concluded “I kept making music, as you can see.”
“Ambient Piece For A Film” is the most experimental and shining moment on the Lo-Fi by Default release. Though the composition is more of an extended drone session that Belong would be noted for if they entered into a darker realm with their music, the metamorphosis of where the pads head are never predictable and so the song’s destination is impossible to be detected by the listener. Pitch bending, distortion, delay, reverberation, pulsing, structural building, structural tear down, and anything else you can think of is all present. It’s ever building, ever getting stronger while representing a desolate mood and hopeless life. Sometimes, a chord progression will shift to a brighter tone, only to be lost once most and eventually, without warning, the track ends.
It feels like a letdown after all of the building that “Ambient Piece..” does, but it only gives way to the second song on Cerulean that earns itself a medal for one of the top released tracks of 2012 – “Child”.
“Child” is a track that must be experienced. It’s warbling main synth melody sounds as delicate as the track name is and its melodic progression only gets backed by the monotonous, straight forward, scratched Trip-Hop percussion, warm & loud bass, as well as the main synthesizer line. If it’s naivity isn’t swallowed up quite enough for you at the surface, digging deeper there is mass analogue distortion that’s so natural, so crucial to the track, that it makes it a song worth listening to on repeat for hours. Clocking in at just over 2 minutes, its duration is meaningless in a world where the artistic value of Kamas’ ability as a producer, engineer, mixer, and composer is clearly demonstrated in such a short, simplified amount of time. It’s the entire package of this song that makes it so great. It’s also the in-distinctions, imperfections, and substandard sonic packaging that ironically turns “Child” and the majority of Cerulean into a solid work of art.
Though a seemingly dark album, the official release states the Kamas record is an album about love and stuff. “Loves You” explores a more streamlined genre hopping drone/downbeat Electronic world that’s a bit more optimistic and “Samurai” projects a bright and hopeful mood as well.
As mentioned earlier, Cerulean is only released digitally so far, via Kamas’ Bandcamp, but for a digitally released record it sounds warm. In fact, it’s one of the warmest independent releases of 2012 and is definitely in a league of its own with it’s ever morphing sonics and strangely complimentary contrasts.
It’s worth a download, it’s worth a headphone listen, it’s worth a lot of things. Cerulean, as defined in the opening statement of Wikipedia, is a color term that may be applied to a wide range of colors from deep blue, sky-blue, bright blue or azure colors through blueish green colors. Though Kamas’ record seems forlorn, after a few listens those colors and demonstrative feelings of sentiment do shine through in the most wonderfully vulnerable and gorgeously broken way possible.
We’re also happy to announce that Kamas has contributed remixes to the upcoming EP release of “Contagion” [Bandcamp] by 2020k.