Graham Lambkin
Community


4.0
excellent

Review

by Winesburgohio STAFF
April 6th, 2017 | 17 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Homesick without a home to be sick for.

Earlier this year, I undertook a Sebaldian exploration of the southernmost reaches of New Zealand, cataloguing and field recording my experiences. I say Sebaldian because I was reading a great deal of Sebald at the time, a writer who perfectly evokes that unique sensation of being an exile, an emigre, homesick without anything concrete or tangible to call home. I hitch-hiked my way around, ate frozen Bluff oysters, saw people in Gore crack eggs into their beer before drinking it in one, a la Season Two of The Wire (SteveGores, perhaps"), spent a truly wretched night in a wretched dilapidation named Clinton, hitched a ride to a lake near the river near Kaitangita, whose beauty will indelibly remain etched upon my memory.

It is Balclutha I want to talk about now. If your knowledge of the minutiae of New Zealand small towns is lacking, bear with me; it’s about equidistant from Invercargill and Dunedin, the souths two main centres, a place to pass through but rarely stay. I was there when a cyclist from the top of the country endeavoured to beat a postcard sent to the bottom, cycling day and night to achieve this goal. He was due to pass through Balclutha at 11:00am. Bribed with coffee, I was encouraged to hold a placard of support, and the people of the town left their businesses, or drove down to the main streets, or evacuated their schools, to line the streets in a show of support. When he came through, there were cheers, whoops, hollers. He gracefully acknowledged this with a wave and then he was gone. The people congregated together, milled around chatting for about ten minutes, and then dissipated back to whence they came.

It’s a community. It’s a community.

I don’t think it’s too much of a reach to suggest a lot of people on this website, and indeed who listen to the kind of music we listen to, often feel out of step, a little refracted, from the world at large. Who are these people and why are they so happy" Why do I never feel at home" No-one knows this sensation, and few have documented it better, than Graham Lambkin. Whether it’s broached with poignant mournfulness (Photographs) or desolate confusion (Air Supply), Lambkin’s electroacoustic, tape-rendered palates echo the sensation of not belonging, of knowing that geography, family, gender, class are arbitrary taxonomies better used by statisticians than for fomenting human relationships.

In Community, he makes his most personal and accessible declaration of this feeling. That it is some of his finest work, and one of the most approachable of the musique concrete genre, is telling -- avoiding the abstrusion and rigid formality the genre is known for, Community is a kaleidoscopic melange of found sounds, tape loops, field recordings and interviewers that sounds warm, humane, essential -- is indicative that sometimes, letting people in is worth the sacrifice.

The album begins with the titular track, Lambkin reciting a fairy tale over disquieting mechanical recordings, and it’s smooth sailing until Lambkin intones the word “raisins”, a propos nothing. At first this irks; evidence, perhaps, of the ‘lel so randum’ criticisms the genre (not always errantly) has directed at it. But further listens reveal that it is an intentional disruption of the folkloric narrative. It is his, and it doesn’t make sense to conventional linear narrative because, that simple word suggests, his is

out of step.

And the attendant sense of loneliness, alienation, disconnection is what the album is about. The disconnection from other societal mainstays, the church and nature, is yielded in the next two tracks, where recordings of them are juxtaposed with Lambkin’s muffled, distorted voice to disquieting effect until suddenly we have the triumphant “Spectrums”, a violin recorded from an old ‘78 lilting it’s way up the, err, spectrum to a beautiful crescendo. This conventionally beautiful piece of music, only subtlely treated by a complementary background sine, is where Lambkin feels at home, amidst the detritus of archaic and long-lost recordings. It is satisfying for the listener and offers the first moment of closure on the record.

Elsewhere, we hear Lambkin’s neighbour, a harmonica, dissonant loops until finally we reach the climax. A calm Lambkin rambles and observes in a monologue over a soothing, understated violin line. And that’s it. That’s home. That is his community. Abortive attempts at human connection are not rendered a great loss. Community is what you make it.

The second disc, unfortunately, is composed of live work that is fine in the most pejorative sense of that word. While vaguely intriguing on its own, it offers nothing to the sense of cohesion offered by the first disk, and the quality of the found sounds and manipulation is less nuanced and more over-stated, occasionally verging onto trite. It is a non-constituent part -- it does not appear on Lambkin’s own Kye issue of the recording -- but as it exists on the most popularly shared version of the album, I feel it is a shame. It renders a neatly trimmed album bloated, a cleverly conceptional truncation tumefied.

But, a quibble; Community is essential listening to those familiar with the genre, and I wager a great entry point for those who aren’t. The warmth, the familiarity, the embracing nature of the work is new in the Lambkin oeuvre. Long may it continue.

It’s a community. It’s a community.

I now found myself on the East Coast of New Zealand. We’ve had a storm, and during a drenching walk on a beach yesterday I stumbled across the corpse of a penguin, buffeted by the sea and undulated ashore. I wrapped in a towel, said a psalm and returned it to the water, then rang the Department of Conservation. The penguin was from a nesting station 5km North, and while most had huddled in the station to wait out the storm this one had been driven by something ineffable to try his luck. I was informed it’s quite common in penguins to distance themselves from their colony, no-one quite new why they did it but it was well-documented, and had I seen the Herzog film about it"

Which is to say that penguin, along with every self-diagnosed misfit and loser and loner and oddball and f**k-up and delinquent, had his own kind of community too.

We all do; the trick, Lambkin reveals, is knowing where to look.



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user ratings (12)
Chart.
3.8
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnnyOnTheSpot
Emeritus
April 5th 2017


6698 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

nice. meant to review this but it never quite clicked the way I wanted

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2017


41797 Comments


incredible review

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Winesburgohio
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2017


2523 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yo johnny the whole thing or was it the INTRUSION of the second discccc



yo Rowan CHURCHURCHUR incredible #gif staying alive for that 3rd season babey

Digging: Primitive Man / Hell (USA) - Split

Toad
April 5th 2017


2006 Comments


i really wanted to like this more than i do, still a pretty nice record

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2017


41797 Comments


new seasons of samurai jack and twin peaks are the only reason I haven't gone full bearded hermit in the arctic Into the Wild-style tbh

Winesburgohio
Staff Reviewer
April 6th 2017


2523 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

did u say new season of samurai jack



you'd best not be toying with me, don't phunk with my heart

Winesburgohio
Staff Reviewer
April 6th 2017


2523 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

fwiw i didn't really like this as much as i do until about the 4th listen, perhaps because it seems so immediately accessible (and i maintain it is) that i wasn't expecting to find nuance underneath. Lambkin u old trickster

Divaman
April 6th 2017


3587 Comments


Nice write up.

Digging: The Cranberries - In the End

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
April 6th 2017


41797 Comments


damn man I guess those pesky new zealanders are really cut off, there's three eps out already and they're stone-cold classics

Winesburgohio
Staff Reviewer
April 6th 2017


2523 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

son of a gun

3 eps behind on new Survivor too

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Emeritus
April 6th 2017


6698 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"yo johnny the whole thing or was it the INTRUSION of the second discccc"

.. maybe the second disc but idk i haven't listened in a while so maybe i should dip a toe

Winesburgohio
Staff Reviewer
April 6th 2017


2523 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

wet your feet whet your appetite i always say

Astral Abortis
April 6th 2017


6745 Comments


Can't wait to hear this when I finally get my internet back tomorrow

Ryus
April 6th 2017


17461 Comments


woww nice

TheBarber
April 6th 2017


3760 Comments


Staggeringly good review thank you, gonna dl asap

Digging: Ataraxie - Rsigns

Cygnatti
April 6th 2017


32791 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

oh boy what a review

Winesburgohio
Staff Reviewer
April 6th 2017


2523 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ta ta ta i am so excited for people to check this out!!!



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