Listening to the vocals on Huntress, the latest release from Kyle J Reigle (who also records as Cemeteries), is like listening to the white puffs of breath that escape blue lips in the depths of winter. It’s a plaintive sound: one that knows it’ll only hang on the air until the next icy gust of wind blows it away. And, in fact, most of Reigle’s lyrics are gone before you can quite grasp what they’re saying.
Using wintry language to talk about Reigle’s music is fitting, as he’s a native of Buffalo, New York—no stranger to the occasional blizzard. That might be why it’s tempting to draw comparisons between Camp Counselors and those others denizens of the north, Iceland’s Sigur Ròs. Both artists imbue their compositions with spare, fuzzed out electronic storms of sound that evoke empty snow-filled fields under starless skies. But where some Sigur Ròs’ tracks verge into the rock realm, Reigle’s work never gets as hard-edged as his Icelandic brethrens’. In fact the guitars he used on Wilderness, his previous effort as Cemeteries, is absent here, which removes pretty much all rock leanings and leaves behind an all-electronic soundscape that grooves, but is never in danger of shattering any ice.
On Wilderness, Reigle says he was inspired by a love of ’70s- and ’80s-era horror films. Some of that dark cinematic quality spills over into this album as well. “Charyou” would easily work as the background track for a banging werewolf chase scene—or, thanks to its driving Underworld-style rhythm, as an “everyone on the floor” number at a goth club. “Attean”, with its metronomic synth and hypnotizing female vocals provided by Psychic Twin, has a slightly retro vibe that makes it feel like it was ripped (with a pair of bloody fangs, of course) from the soundtrack to 1987’s Lost Boys. The opening track, “Oslo”, evokes the work of film-scorer Mark Isham when he was doing New Age music in the ’80s.
But the darkness never overwhelms on Huntress. There’s airy, spare quality to the tracks that lets a little light shine in through the thick and foreboding pine boughs overhead. There are long stretches on the album where all you have is a manufactured beat, a tinkling synth line and Reigle’s high-pitched whisper, which evokes Radiohead on a few tracks, especially “Oslo”. While the spare orchestration and sighing vocals might sound lightweight, this album has a lot of gravity. There’s a core to each song that magnetizes, holding you pinned to it (by the Huntress herself?) as the electronic snow falls down around your ears. It’s a great record for surrounding yourself in the solitude of snow, even in the middle of rush hour.