Kemper Norton – Toll
Employing a truly poetic sensibility, Kemper Norton’s “Toll” is a fully immersive experience. Kemper Norton refuses to be pigeonholed with his approach and as such the songs merge together elements of industrial, noise, shoegaze, all within a rather loose format. By letting the songs simply play off of each other Kemper Norton creates a sonic universe that is constantly in flux. Over the course of “Toll” Kemper Norton challenges the conventional notions of structure, letting the pieces fall where they may.
A giant wave of sound washes over everything on the album opener “Yadnik”. With such a violent beginning the song eventually settles down into a relaxed groove. This continues down to the crystal calm of “The Town” where the slight hint of static rests on the periphery of the sound. Small, almost tribal like rhythms emerge out of the amorphous sea of “Sirens”. Hazy waves and a delicate rhythm help to anchor the otherworldly “Black Silk”. Easily the highlight of the album the tenderness of the song is apparent, as is the rather casual approach to song craft. Fully immersive are the strange grooves of “Agnes and Louisa” sounding akin to a long-lost early 80s industrial music experiment. Warm and welcoming “Danaoin” shows off a subtler side of Kemper Norton’s approach. Ending things on a high note is the scree of “The Tide” whose palate cleansing tones work wonders.
Kemper Norton’s “Toll” feels like a waking dream with elements familiar and unfamiliar interacting in unexpected deeply satisfying ways.