- Leonard Campbell's Much Less Normal was originally released as a tape on 1080p last spring, and has since become one of the label's definitive releases. The vinyl reissue on Firecracker is well-timed, particularly since the Vancouver producer's profile grew further with the extended mix of "Sunrise Market" on the new label Pacific Rhythm. The original tape won over fans with its dazed take on laid-back house. Like recent releases from Mood Hut, it's a record that sounds like the city that birthed it: overcast and maritime, gloomy and gorgeous in equal measure. Campbell's songs develop and grow with the steady pace of the tides, as if his sounds and melodies are being washed ashore.
The Firecracker version of Much Less Normal drops two of the tape's most distinctive tracks: "Sunrise Market" and "Slam City Jam (Mix Assist Mix)" (though in retrospect, the slamming breaks and organ chords of that one were slightly out of place anyways). It also changes the order around and adds a new 13-minute closer, "Kendal In Kalusia." In doing this, the Scottish label offers a new way to hear the album. The sounds are homespun and bucolic, the rhythms arranged with a plainness that makes them feel as natural as getting up in the morning and sipping a cup of coffee.
Much Less Normal does have its clubbier moments, and with its new sequencing it builds as it progresses. Campbell daubs chords over a garage-inspired beat on the breezy "I Met You On BC Ferries," and then goes full dance floor with the driving "If Sylvia Built A House," the album's imposing techno centrepiece. He puts his charming touch on a number of genres—you also get walking disco basslines on "Telegraph My Love" and spacey retro rave on "Eye Of The Wind"—but no matter what idea he's taking on it's always marked by that easy effortlessness.
"Kendal In Kalusia" feels like it came from a different set of sessions than Much Less Normal. Gruff and rolling with an earthy texture, it's a major contrast to the seaside aesthetic of the rest of the album, but that's hardly a bad thing. The original sequencing had "If Sylvia Built A House" at the end, letting the tape finish with its most energetic track. Here, "Now I'm In Love" winds it down before "Kendal In Kalusia" opens up a new chapter entirely.
Campbell is a prolific producer: he told Juno Plus that he tries to create new material for every single show he plays, and he already has another release on the way for 1080p. In the meantime, this is a welcome reissue. It's an invitation to see this remarkable album in a new light for those who already know it, and its new vinyl format should help it earn the attention it deserved the first time around.
A1 Land, Repair, Refuel
A2 Ad In The Paper
A3 I Met You On BC Ferries
B4 Sphere Of Influence
B5 If Sylvia Built A House
C6 Eye Of The Wind
C7 Telegraph My Love
D8 Now I'm In Love
D9 Kendal In Kalusia