Man, our boy Graham Lambkin has been on a roll this year, you guys. First, he continued to challenge our perspectives on the role of space in improvised music with the unnervingly static Making A with Keith Rowe, then he unleashed this searing Shadow Ring set on the world, and now he’s currently breaking our hearts with the striking Photographs with Jason Lescalleet (review forthcoming), while simultaneously dropping the unreal song-oriented “Abersayne/Attersaye” 7-inch.
Lambkin is no stranger to pop music, given his brilliant deconstructions of song craft with the Shadow Ring and his issuing of a Dan Melchior record on his own Kye label. However, “Abersayne” is by far the most traditionally “song”-oriented work that Lambkin’s produced. Over a beautiful guitar loop and hissing tape noise, Lambkin wails and croons in a manner that’s less like his spoken word vocals on The Shadow Ring’s work and more like a combination of the wordless cooing on Neu’s “Lieber Honig,” mixed with a deep appreciation for old-school blues phrasing. It’s a really lovely work, but like all of Lambkin’s fixings, there’s much more going on than just the surface level loveliness of the song.
I have a belief that much of Lambkin’s work is concerned with capturing the artist’s both physical and mental space in a very Bachelard-ian sense. Mr P and others have touched upon this in their reviews of Lambkin’s work, and even though “Abersayne” may initially appear as a simple pop exploration, close listening suggests that Lambkin’s singular view of space is still at play here. The whooshing background noise on the track almost suggests that it could’ve been a continuation of Lambkin’s car recordings. Knowing Lambkin’s affinity for appropriating and obscuring samples/sound sources, the guitar that carries this track could easily be from some unknown source. Perhaps, like Lambkin’s work on Amateur Doubles, “Abersayne” is the composer’s attempt to recreate a particular moment in an undefined space when a fragment of music emerged as a joyously song-like soundtrack to him. Or maybe, “Abersayne’s” song-like qualities function as the choral samples do on Salmon Run, forcing the listener to register the physical space in which he or she is listening to this musical excerpt, in the way that Lambkin does in his usual mental space. One thing is for sure, though: the lo-fi spatial ambiguities of Lambkin’s work coupled with their sheer beauty make for works that never fully lose their mystery and warrant repeat listens. “Abersayne’s” warped pop makes for one of the most mysterious and lovely spaces that Lambkin’s created yet.
“Abersayne’/’Attersaye” is out now via Kye Records. Check out “Abersayne” here: