Ceephax – Camelot Arcade

5 out of 5

Label: WéMè Records

Produced by: Andy Jenkinson

Hello, and welcome to another installment of “rambling reviews in which I apply a narrative to a piece of work that probably doesn’t have one.”  Today I’ll be looking at Ceephax’s ‘Camelot Arcade,’ which is more than likely simply just an excellent piece of low-key acid that I’m reading way too much in to.

To wit:

Ceephax, a.k.a. Andy Jenkinson, is a bit of a joker.  His first projects as an electronic artist were done as something of a lark, and many subsequent tracks issued – sometimes under the Ceephax Acid Crew moniker – are purposefully rather whimsical or silly.  But people took notes of his chops: of his intense beats and masterful rave-ups and general intensity, and then on occasion, he’d record under ‘Ceephax’ and deliver something a little more stripped down and personal.  ‘Camelot Arcade’ matches that bill, but it’s also – in my overwrought take – a statement of intent, and an observation on Jenkinson’s path to where he is currently.

While the front cover matches our joker’s general sensibilities – Andy posed in partial chain mail – the interior label art feels more considered.  LP 1 tracks through 80s-tinged acid jams, putting the whole Stranger Things movement of music to shame; Camelot Arcade may or may not be a real place, but Andy is posed in front of a sign of the name on a ramshackle building on the LP and I can imagine a kidly version of the artist spending his time in such a place, pumping quarters into a game machine at a dedicated arcade, or a bowling alley or somesuch.  The tracks here have a breezy, fun, nostalgic feel, but with a depth suggested as being constructed by someone who lived through the music and feelings of the time.  LP 2’s image is a line-drawn image of Andy – deeper into his subconscious and the surreal, perhaps.  The songs on LP 2 fittingly come across as deeper themselves, plying at housier beats but demurred by down-tuned rhythms; the artist grows up from the carelessness of the 80s to the evolving scene of the 90s.  The E-side of LP 3 is a synthesis of these two things, and is almost like a victory lap: the appropriately named The Great Greatsby is a masterwork of acid, working in nuance and layering and flipping the emotional switch back and forth between light and dark.  Finally, on the F-side – the label picture is now a clutter of electronics – Andy is Ceephax in all his whimsy, going full IDM with funky, wonderful beats and breakdowns, the whole tour of tracks seemingly proving that you can have all of these styles emanating from one head, cohesively so: the album, front to back, floats and along seamlessly.

And screw all of this narration, anyway.  It’s nonsense.  The dude’s wearing chainmail pants and waving around a sword; he produces insanely good music, and if you’ve brushed him aside as a jokester, Camelot Arcade arrives to announce the human behind all the acid workouts… and then delivering badass acid workouts all the same.