Cole Kempcke – ‘Cole Kempcke Experiment’


A uniquely powerful debut album from Omaha-based artist Cole Kempcke, Cole Kempcke Experiment presents a sound steeped in jazz and avant-garde exploration. Guitar-driven constructions navigate through unique structural unfolding, alongside flourishes of brass, intriguing rhythmic change-ups, and uses of vocal samples.

Picking up after a lush intro, “Pick Up the Phone” is exemplary of the release’s stirring escalations and eclectic tonal reaches. Gentle guitar pulses find quick accompaniment in rousing, dexterous guitar lines alongside. A momentary percussive pause drives into further guitar-forward charisma, this time excelled by sporadic waves of distortion amidst a thumping bass line. Murky vocal samples add aesthetical intrigue to the conclusion, emphasizing a creative spirit that traverses well beyond what’s expected in jazz-inspired rock instrumentation.

The fervent “King Kong Lives!” blasts off with thunderous guitar work, intermixing warm distortion with screeching bustling. Brassy flourishes add engrossingly at the mid-point, then traversing into further raucously invigorating guitar fragments. A serenely contemplative finale brings down the hectic propulsions with graceful precision. In the opening tracks alone, Cole Kempcke Experiment proves itself as an album with considerable structural charisma, daring to embrace the beautifully unpredictable spectrum.

Traversing further into jazz styling, “We Might Fly” intertwines lush guitar strums with capricious-minded trickling. A peppier bass line takes hold as a wah-wah-ing fronts a brassy feeling. A debonair shift, just prior to the two-minute mark, captivates with its laid-back rhythmic emphasis. “We Might Fly” is abundant with structural shifts and tonal variety, balancing a compelling improvisational-like flow with a tasteful atmospheric charm.

Creaky guitars and vintage vocal samples concoct ample intrigue on “Goblin Mode,” eventually representative of the project’s sharp rock-forward inclinations as venomous blasts of guitar distortion become punctuated by prog-rock guitar shards. The initial creakiness re-emerges thereafter into a ghostly effect led by bass and vocal samples, and then into a soaring guitar focus with ’80s rock nostalgia. “Goblin Mode” is among the album’s darkest-sounding efforts, and consumes feverishly with its stylistic savvy.

Cole Kempcke Experiment closes with the climactic, cinematic “Inside the Sphere.” Brooding piano lends an ominous, Kubrick-esque reminiscence prior to the emergence of scratch-y guitars, enamoring with a queasy excitement. Late-night brass injections immerse as well, into a twinkling finale that lulls with hypnotic engagement. The album succeeds thoroughly in its creative fusing of avant-garde rock and jazz.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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