Having pioneered festival-making beats-n-pieces electronica since 2004, Kel McKeown is something of a homecoming hero. Now on his fourth album as Kelpe, McKeown rides the current wave of discerning electronic producers embracing full-on house, hip-hop sampling and sad soul. Where Bonobo’s North Borders has defined 2013 with its thumping productions tinged with delicious melancholy, so too Fourth: The Golden Eagle delivers dense, five-minute slabs of shape-shifting synths and woozy samples over a solid backbone of snare drums and high-hats.
‘Astrolomy’s sitar twangs and jazzy drums are a playful opening before the lush grooves and sonorous groans of ‘Beaks of Eagles’ bring a more reflective mood. ‘Superzero Theme’ and ‘Go Visible‘ trade hip-house with acidic squelches and video-game bleeps, and stand out track ‘Nice Eyes in My Size’ is all dreamy off-kilter monotones.
Though far from being a car-crash of sounds, Fourth: The Golden Eagle has a mature, holistic feel. In fact the tracks seem to get stronger as the album reaches its conclusion; ‘Glinterlude’s Animal Collective-esque euphoria strikes the most optimistic note, and finale ‘Answered’ is pure loveliness as woody percussion and subtle guitars are drowned in Kelpe’s trademark seismic synths.
Having brightened his musical palette with 2009’s Cambio Wechsel, Kelpe’s latest LP is equally summery and immediate, vast yet focused, not overly easy-to-please. The Golden Eagle re-affirms, if not quite re-defines, what’s possible with today’s electronic mash-up.