Reedman Daniel Bennett's Clockhead Goes to Camp is a crystallization of the motifs explored in his previous work. The thirteen short tracksthe longest clocking at less than six minutesare concise, crisp and deceptively simple. The intriguingly surreal ambience results from the mixture of international folk influences and futuristic minimalism.
"Last Summer At Camp Creepy" is imbued with Levantine mysticism, with Bennett unfurling a poetic and passionate tale over the percussive tones of the rhythm section. Bassist Peter Brendler's oud-like lyrical strumming enhances the Middle Eastern atmosphere.
Drummer Tyson Stubelek's rumbling, Latin-inspired beats anchor Bennett's muscular yet spontaneous flights of fancy (here, on flute) on the kaleidoscopic "Whatever It Might Be." Guitarist Mark Cocheo's electrifying strings bring a rock sensibility to the tune, which flirts with psychedelia, as concluding chants about peace echo over the ensemble play.
Another theme that runs throughout the album is a contrasting yet complimentary fusion of whimsy and solemnity. "Dr. Duck's Beautiful New Kitchen" has shades of European musical folklore. Bennett's woody and warm clarinet, tinged with a mellow darkness, matches Cocheo's deeply pensive ad-lib guitar work, the guitarist bringing a wistful undercurrent to an otherwise buoyant melody. Elsewhere "John Lizard And Mr. Pug," with its lilting refrains, is a slightly eerie waltz from a century ago. The immediately following "Cabin 12 Escapes Into The Night" could well serve as a soundtrack to a dystopian science fiction film. Bennett improvises, edgy and angular, over snippets of unintelligible, stern voices creating an otherworldly mood.
This thrilling amalgamation of seemingly disparate styles is even apparent within individual solos. Bennett's unaccompanied saxophone on "Sandpaper Is Necessary" is mordant and free-flowing without losing any of its mellifluousness.
Bennett and his band have a unique sound that may not be for purists but it is stimulating, refreshingly unconventional and highly enjoyable. Clockhead Goes to Camp is a record that grows more and more satisfying with each listen.
The Old Muskrat; An Elephant Hugs a New Car;Nine Piglets; Mr Duck’s
Beautiful New Kitchen; Clockhead Goes to Camp; Whatever it Might Be;
Last Summer at Camp Creepy; Paint The Fence; Sandpaper is Necessary;
John Lizard and Mr Pug; Cabin 12 Escapes Into the Night; Patience; Ten
Daniel Bennett; alto saxophone, flute and clarinet: Mark Cocheo; guitar: Peter Brendler;
bass: Tyson Stubelek; drums.
A young artist exhibits his work for the first time. An art critic is in attendance. The critic says, "would you like my opinion on your work?" "Yes," says the artist. "It's worthless," says the critic. The artist replies "I know, but tell me anyway."