Music

C.A.M.P.O.S.: Miracles & Criminals

Psychedelic grooves and electronic cumbia fusions shine on Miracles & Criminals, an album that never quits (even when it probably should).


C.A.M.P.O.S.

Miracles & Criminals

Label: Peace & Rhythm
US Release Date: 2016-11-11
UK Release Date: Import
Amazon
iTunes

It's hard to keep track of everything that goes on over the course of Miracles & Criminals. The first album from Chicha Libre member Joshua Camp's newest project, C.A.M.P.O.S. (a handy abbreviation for Cumbias and More Psychedelic Original Sounds), delivers pulsing psych grooves and electronically enhanced cumbia, as well as straightforward calls to the dance floor, plaintive folk vocals, and tropical indie rock. All in all, there are thirty-one tracks on the two-disc album, and each one of them is well-crafted—if not all equally necessary.

There are plenty of true gems here, to be sure. “Teosinte” might be one of the purest and most psychedelic songs of the year; it's a heady track named for wild Mesoamerican corn and imbued with an almost ancient feeling somewhere among the electric guitars. A call of “Teosinte!” speaks to and from the soul while synths ramp up and launch the whole song into the stars. Elsewhere, “Dream of the Bell Flower” leans away from heavy psych and toward earthy, familiar rhythms, whereas hipster dance cut “Shake Up The World” very nearly forgoes the Amazonian motif altogether during a catchy chorus that sounds a little like 2008 MGMT, though the instrumentation in between those choruses is still lush and Latin-inspired. “My Bird Has Many Voices” even shows up in two differently accompanied, though both sweet and simple, versions.

Much of this music comes from Camp's reserves, from bulking up unfinished pieces and tweaking music that didn't fit with any of his other projects, and while it ably demonstrates the impressive depth and breadth of what he can produce, it often sounds like a portfolio rather than a polished album. Miracles & Criminals is desperately in need of paring down; offering half as many tracks, if not fewer, would tell twice as compelling a story.

With that said, each track on its own is interesting, and while they don't all make for a punch-packing whole, it's easy to imagine every song having a time and place, be it on a separate album or even as part of some Morricone-inspired movie soundtrack. It's not a leap to picture fast-moving instrumentals like “El Capitalista 72” or “Presión” accompanying antiheroes on thrilling capers through the Americas, and twangy “The Devil is a Charmer” feels like the triumphant ride into the sunset every outlaw hopes to take. “You better run, baby / Run, baby / Run, baby / Run, baby, run”, sings Camp, and that's exactly where the credits should roll.

Miracles & Criminals is not a matter of wasted potential. C.A.M.P.O.S. hits plenty of high notes and doesn't spend time on the sub-par. It's simply too heavy and too much for a single album, and trying to sit down and listen to it all the way through -- to become fully immersed in such a dense repertoire -- is hard. Joshua Camp comes off as passionate and curious in his deft explorations of different styles and cultures, but this album feels like a compilation of greatest hits and previously unreleased sketches, and it's not time to memorialize Camp's career in that way. He has much more to show, and the brightest spots of C.A.M.P.O.S. are proof positive of that.

6

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image