From 1993 to 2003, Graham Lambkin was a member of one of the most complex, inspiring, and uncompromising groups in "rock history", The Shadow Ring. Eschewing popular notions of shuffling punk drums and fast guitars for sound art, spoken words, and wonderfully strange atmospheres, Lambkin and co. were able to carve a new path in musical experimentation. The world of the Shadow Ring, which moved from detuned guitars and simplistic percussion to beautiful keyboard pieces, has expanded within Lambkin's solo work. These records, particularly Salmon Run from 2007 and his most recent record, Amateur Doubles, are one of a kind experiences, wonderful albums that explore not only the sound and shape of music, but the act of listening to it as well.
You can contact Graham at hawkmoths(at)yahoo(dot)com. Graham also runs Kye Records, a fantastic label that can be further read about here: http://kyerecords.blogspot.com/ . I also recommend visiting his YouTube page- hawkmoths01, there are some embedded videos at the end of the interview. Check it out after the jump.
I've enjoyed the practice of placing one piece of music inside another since 2000. It's there on Lindus, and again on Poem (For Voice & Tape), but it's most evident on Salmon Run and Amateur Doubles. It's a handy tool when building up precise atmospheres that I have in mind, but don't have the technical chops to perform myself. The root of the idea grew accidentally when the Shadow Ring was recording I Lap It Up (Lindus). A friendly Hispanic neighbor innocently turned on a radio, leaking music onto our vocal track through the wall. The idea held appeal so we re-cut but substituted Celia Cruz with Capsicum Red.
In both Salmon Run and Amateur Doubles you acquire recordings of classical music. What is it about the idea of "classical music" that interests you in this setting? Will you continue to use these sort of pieces for future work? Could you see yourself utilizing a different kind of music?
Salmon Run drew from Russian classical music, Amateur Doubles from 70's French progressive synth music. In terms of applying types of music to my work no particular genre interests me more than another. Both these albums were born through arbitrary happenstance. I record a lot of everyday situations that promise no obvious musical worth, but sometimes a piece of music will enter the picture quite by chance, be captured on tape and set a ball rolling. All the while I continue to be stimulated by the process I'll consider working this way, but there's no mandate.
In your music, specifically during the Shadow Ring, the words hold a very special and important place. Where did the idea come to "speak" the lyrics in the Shadow Ring? Did you have any specific influences in the writing of the lyrics?
Singing was never a viable option. We tried it on a few occasions and it always yielded less than satisfactory results. With regard to lyrical influences I was always a big fan of Marc Bolan's writing, particularly during his John's Children and Tyrannosaurus Rex phases. Marc played with words and language in an elegantly original way - very surreal, flowery text with no apparent regard for literal meaning, and so much fun to wallow in. His book of collected poems and lyrics from the era The Warlock of Love remains the preferred bedtime read.
Moving from the United Kingdom to the United States, have you found a more or less receptive audience for experimental music?
America was always more receptive to the kinds of noises The Shadow Ring made. There was slim interest in England at that time, and most of the avenues for distribution and promotion for our kind of enterprise were located stateside anyway. It seemed to me that US audiences were far more enthusiastic and receptive to the new and the unknown, where as in England it was harder to get attention, unless you had 15-20 years of reputation under your belt. Now, I don't really think it matters where you're based. The internet provides more self-managing platforms for promotion than you could have dreamed of in the early 90's. It's how you use those opportunities that matters now.
I was watching this Shadow Ring interview online, and I was intrigued by the stark comic element mixed in with the almost "official" sort of tone of the video. I hear this kind of humor in your music as well. What brings you to put this into your work?
The Shadow Ring was always a humorous proposition. Despite the reputation we sometimes carry as being dour party-poopers we always had a whale of a time. The interview you reference was the happy result of some late night tomfoolery, played out in the spirit of the times. I've always considered humor an important component in my art, and take its potential seriously. Anything to stop the work ossifying into a po-faced stodgy lump. It's the essential oil that keeps the machine moving.
Have you ever considered working within the film medium? Perhaps scoring, if not directing, a work?
Back in the early 00's I worked with Tim Shortell on the Motion Paintings project. This comprised a series of abstract moving paintings built up using combinations of water, honey, oil, paint, nuts, minerals etc, which were filmed, scored and released on DVD through Tim's Uberkatze Studios imprint. Earlier this year Spencer Yeh and I were invited by the New Museum to conceive and present a collaborative multi-media work, the results of which included video/DVD in the synthesis. Film is certainly a field I'd be interested in exploring in greater depth down the road.
Are there any upcoming releases on Kye you would like to share with us?
The next release we have coming out is Vanessa Rossetto's Exotic Exit LP. This will be her second full-length for Kye and it's no exaggeration to say this is her strongest statement yet. After that we have a new Shadow Ring 2LP retrospective entitled Remains Unchanged. This is an 'opening of the vaults' moment which maps out an alternate history of the group through exclusively unreleased/unheard material spanning the entire 1993-2003 timeline. Vanessa's LP should be out in August and The Shadow Ring 2LP shortly after..