Chris Chameleon’s latest release, and successor to 2014’s collaborative “Posduif,” documents the narrative of a single poet guided by romance and nostalgia against an interchanging collection of energetic and melodic textures. In a dozen new tracks “Firmament” sees the elevating variations of Chameleon’s celebrated versatility as it wades along in its entirety through territories both familiar and new.
‘High,’ as introductory track, offers ears an easy-listening lead into the album with Chameleon’s signature falsetto placed alongside the mid-tempo strum of an acoustic guitar. It’s met by the swift exchange of subtle romance for a more progressive stance as ‘Know’ follows the precedent in a more amplified course. An enigmatic sense of unpredictability is thus established in the very onset on the record, whereby each track will proceed to melt into one another through the common thread of Chameleon’s vocal delivery alone.
Vocal manipulation functions as one of Chameleon’s most longstanding assets, contributing towards the success and longevity of his career by enabling him to extend his versatility into avenues of both the classical, traditional, and contemporary. “Firmament” therefore secures its slot within this oeuvre as a colourful addition of melodies that boasts his artistic expression, yet in an exclusively English tongue. A separate voice that aids Chameleon throughout the record’s vocal journey, however, is the accompanying harmonies of Daniella Deysel. This pairing itself attains a greater dynamic range, softening the accumulated textures already present with Deysel’s distinctively delicate vocal lines.
Smaller inserts such as quick laser sounds heard whilst Chameleon sings “your eyes fire like lasers” in ‘Can’t Stop Me Loving You’ or the Tarzan-like howls throughout ‘Victim Eyes’ all encapsulate a certain theatricality that frequently follows Chameleon’s character. Thematically these instances indicate what Chameleon has disclosed in his approach to the record as being an act of self-liberation from vanity to the extent where matters of shallow concern become of little consequence. ‘Victim Eyes’ confronts this narcissism lyrically, the words “victim of his vanity/prey to his pride” overtly reflecting the sentiment as they ring across each impending chorus.
In its culmination “Firmament” primarily crafts layers of sentimentality that alters the content of its subject matter, yet withholds a central romanticised inkling. ‘Don’t You Worry,’ as perhaps the most poignant track, signals this notion through the lyrical discovery of finding comfort amidst turmoil from the tug of a helping hand and words of reassurance promising that everything will be okay. If anything, “Firmament” plays out like an extended lovesong, Chameleon’s eccentrics slightly tamed in favour of a refined sonic letter etched in sincerity.
Follow Marike on Twitter.