“I feel that his works make the viewer want to be part of them,” Kelly Warner says describing the work of Joseph Cornell, the withdrawn, New York City assemblage artist whose work inspired the name of Warner's music project, Hotel Eden. "Cornell was able to create elegant, compelling microcosms out of found pieces arranged in small shadowboxes, luring you in and inviting you to explore their tiny classrooms, galaxies or snowy forests he set in motion with bits of wire, paper and cork.” It is no wonder that Kelly was drawn to this art, considering his own past: “back in college when my friends were out partying, I was in a basement apartment gluing bits of borrowed drums and synths and voices and strings together to create what I hoped would become magical little wonderlands of sound.” And now with years of musical exploration under his belt, the producer/songwriter offers an eclectic collection of poetic, genrehopping songs for his first solo EP, A Way Back Home. This Solar Set Records release vibrantly displays Hotel Eden's ever-evolving vision that results in comparisons to Peter, Bjorn & John; Feist; Kings of Convenience and Beck.
As a one-man production team, Kelly writes, sings, plays and records his irreverent pop songs with a mix of vintage instruments and new technology in his home studio. With a background of well worn white label electronica releases, this DJ/beatmaker/multi-instrumentalist was also one half of the visionary but now historic hip hop duo, The Lab Rats. Kelly and his Lab Rats band-mate were loved in part for replacing samples with original music that included beats, self-samples and live instrumentation. Song craft, live performance, recording, studio production and stylistic experimentation were just a few of the lessons Kelly learned in the lab. Moving through phases as any artist does, he takes from the past, but now more fully realizes live instrumentation in production and uses his own songwriting inspiration to create Cornell-like havens of beauty, chaos and solace.
The EP opens with “Tell Me where You've Been” a modern, airy, piano-centric contemplation of time and the human condition. This track has already been selected for Columbus Alive's (weekly arts and entertainment newspaper) 2009 compilation CD of best new music. “A Way Back Home,” track two and this EP's title track, was motivated by a visit to the Pacific Coastline. Another side of Kelly bursts out on “Here,” the release's most up-tempo, psych-infused roller. The track delivers rockin' drums, a fuzzed out bass line, and intense atmospherics juxtaposed with the track's spacey vocals. Track four, “The Take Home,” sinks deeply into the hero's empty pockets with possibly the coolest bass line since Archie Bell and the Drells' funky R&B classic “The Tighten Up.” It's a song written from the perspective of a lamenting man escaping his dreary life as a postmodern, factory-working dreamer. In contrast, the closing ballad on this seminal EP is “Never Go,” an endearing song desperately written to a lover. It's a beautiful recording that features acoustic and pedal steel guitars, piano, and subtle percussion that brings a soothing end to your first stay at Hotel Eden. The EP may be over, but you'll want to check back in, press play, and never go.