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Camping - Suburban Shore

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Artist: Camping

Album: Suburban Shore

Label: Plug Research

Review date: Jun. 6, 2004

Camping’s Suburban Shore is the product of an alliance between German singer Henning Fritzenwalder and the Washington DC electronic duo Chessie. The trio appropriate the same good old-fashioned samba and bossa nova rhythms that once percolated behind Charlie Byrd and Stan Getz; if the Chessie boys played them all by themselves on conventional instruments, then a career in ethnic restaurants beckons them, and if (as I suspect) they built the tracks out of samples, they did such a good job that I really can’t tell. Neat trick, that!

The space between the beats and Fritzenwalder’s easy croon is taken up with pelvis-moving bass lines, subliminally percolating electronics, bright plastic horn figures, deftly strummed acoustic guitars, and distorted electric ones. The way those guitars burst through the song “Verbrechen’s” decorous-yet-libidinous rhythms, simultaneously raw and enshrouded in cloudy atmosphere, hooked me immediately. I then realized Fritzenwalder sings the languorous phrases in his mother tongue – German. The songs work especially well for those who don’t understand Kraut, allowing them to project whatever they like onto songs with titles that translate as “Photograph,” “Stairwell,” and “Snowstorm.”

A bossa nova tune about a snowstorm? That’s one more thing about this record that shouldn’t work, but again, it does, and therein lies the disc’s appeal. It’s like a two-headed dog that not only lives and breathes, it catches whatever you throw it and seems so genuinely happy to see you that you forget that it’s one unnatural hound.

By Bill Meyer

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