Bloody hell, where to start with this one? Kemper Norton is known for making genre-befuddling music of a most wondrous and gnarled oaky hue; his singularity and genius is obvious in every second of this EP. ‘To Mahina’ consists of four reinterpretations of ‘Mahina’ from Doomed Bird of Providence’s excellent Blind Mouths Eat album. The original song is based on a natural disaster that befell Australia in 1899; Cyclone Mahina killed over 500 people, the largest toll in that nation’s history. Such was the storm’s severity that it tossed dolphins onto the 50ft cliffs of Finders Island.
‘Departing’ intones the names of ships from the Cornish diaspora to Australia over hazy utterly becalmed stretched chimes and whispering cymbal drones. ‘Meeting’ is a prancing, burbling, electro-shanty; pulsing and ragged it unravels into a smeared metal whine curling around sulphurous electronics, pixelated low-res volcanic puddle, its surface tense with gathering pressure, a ramping chaos about to resolve in violence. ‘Working’ is full of Kosmiche space hum, an audio realisation of shimmering atmospheric disturbance, as if, in its fury, Mahina had conjured Aurora Australis all by itself to better illustrate the destruction it has wrought. ‘Ending’ is a cyclical grind of fragmented drone, the ship names listed earlier returning at the end, bobbing in the drifting sound like the smashed wood and lives of the ships, sailors, and colonists consumed by the storm.
‘To Mahina’ further cements Kemper Norton’s place at the forefront of some fascinating and unclassifiable music gathering around the Outer Church club night and Front & Follow label.