Listening Party: Jon Camp, "Earwig"

City Paper

Recorded in Baltimore by guitarist and vegan activist Jon Camp of Kensington, Maryland, “Earwig” consists of eight unruffled tracks in just 11 minutes (it fits on one side of a 12-inch, which is how this delightful little record is packaged), with each tiny instrumental evoking a different mood, texture, or era: The playful ‘Interrupted Transmission’ sounds like the theme to a lost ’70s kids show; ‘All is Fine Past the County Line’ is a ’60s rave up in The Spencer Davis Group mode; ‘It Looms, It Blooms’ does what Ennio Morricone-indebted doomsters Earth take 20 or so minutes to convey in less than two; ‘Makeshift Generator’ rattles like the interstitial music from a ‘50s rebel flick such as “Thunder Road.” 

Like sum-of-their-tiny-little-parts records such as Morgan Fisher’s “Miniatures” or J Dilla’s “Donuts,” Camp’s brief but fully formed compositions have a time-traveling effect on the listener. It becomes hard to tell if you’ve been listening for a few minutes or a few hours, so confidently and strangely do these songs inhabit their own world, separate from the three-minute pop structure and sprawling “sophisticated” art-rock template. And yes, hints of Derek Bailey, John Fahey, Henry Kaiser and other heroes of Wire magazine in the ’80s and ’90s abound, but there is also a springy, exploratory nature to Camp’s half-short, twice-strong songs, suggesting the more carefree stylings of Chet Atkins or Link Wray when he went out to a shack in Accokeek, Maryland and country-fried his surf rock. 

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