Graham Lambkin is a multidisciplinary artist and publisher whose work embraces audio, visual, and text-based concerns. Lambkin first came to prominence in the early ’90s through the formation of his amateur music group The Shadow Ring, who fused a D.I.Y. post-punk aesthetic with folk music, cracked electronics, and surreal wordplay, to create a unique hybrid sound that set it apart from its peers, and continues to exert an influence today. After the dissolution of The Shadow Ring, Lambkin embarked on a series of striking and highly original solo releases, including the critically acclaimed Salmon Run, Amateur Doubles, and Community, as well as undertaking a string of collaborative projects with the likes of Joe McPhee, Keith Rowe, Moniek Darge, Jason Lescalleet, Michael Pisaro, and most recently Áine O’Dwyer. Joshua Minsoo Kim talked with Lambkin November 18th, 2020 via WhatsApp to discuss his childhood, The Shadow Ring, his visual art, his solo work, and more.
A note about this interview: After this interview you will find a mix that Graham Lambkin has made featuring songs (including unreleased ones) which relate to things he discussed. Please listen while reading.
Joshua Minsoo Kim: Hello, hello! How are you Graham?
Graham Lambkin: Hey! Good, man. How are you doing?
I’m good. Just finished up work and now I’m just here.
And your dog has been sated? [Editor’s note: I told Lambkin that I needed to push the interview back a few minutes because one of my dogs needed to pee].
Yes! My dog is perfect now.
What do you have?
I actually have two dogs. I have a lhasa apso, her name is Charlie. And I have a maltese and his name is Rocketship. It’s Rocky for short—my cousin got Rocky’s brother, and that dog’s name is Rambo. Two Sylvester Stallone characters.
When’s Demolition Man joining the family? (laughter).
Sometime soon, hopefully. Have you been having a good day?
Yeah, I’ve been good.
What have you been up to?
I just got finished putting that Call Back the Giants Bandcamp page together for Tim [Goss], so I just went back after a couple days and checked all the links and made sure they were all working for him.
Was really happy to see that. You know what’s on my mind right now? Earlier this year you said that I was “tireless” because I do so many interviews (Lambkin laughs hysterically). And I’ve done a ton this year.
And you’re probably gonna be one of the last ones I do for 2020. Anyways, something I kept thinking about today was that I hadn’t kept up with films this year. I like to keep up with that, especially avant-garde shorts, but I was so busy with music and interviewing people that I didn’t have time for it. A part of me was just like, man, you can only do so much in life.
When I think about your career, you’ve done a lot of different things. So I was wondering: Do you ever have this sadness, or just this understanding and acceptance, that you can’t do everything you want to do? Do you ever have those feelings? And if so, how do you go about managing them?
I think there’s a distinction to be made between feeling like you can’t do everything—that realization that may or may not come over you—and a need to hone in on one specific area. That’s more how I’d have it. I would hate to imagine that there was a point in my career, as you put it, where doors were closing. I try not to think that way, and I don’t think that way; I never havethought that way. I think that’s one of the fundamentals of my way of thinking about taking life and processing it into art; I always enjoy that equation of ambition over ability. I think if that’s present and true in the project, then it validates it no matter what the focus is on.
Can you speak on that more? With ambition over ability, how do you see that playing out in your own life?
I suppose the first example was Darren [Harris] and I deciding way back in ’91 that, yes, there’s no reason we can’t launch ourselves into a music career (laughter), ignoring the fact that we had no instruments or musical training. We were only fans of music but somehow that seemed a strong enough reason to jump in and see what happens. This was based on enthusiasm, based on the types of things that were in the air that we could identify, at least in part. A lot of different factors influence it but it was the realization of that—that it’s not necessary to be fully aware of the laws of something in order for you to have a go.
One of the world’s largest collections of prehistoric rock art has been discovered in the Amazonian rainforest.
Hailed as “the Sistine Chapel of the ancients”, archaeologists have found tens of thousands of paintings of animals and humans created up to 12,500 years ago across cliff faces that stretch across nearly eight miles in Colombia.
Their date is based partly on their depictions of now-extinct ice age animals, such as the mastodon, a prehistoric relative of the elephant that hasn’t roamed South America for at least 12,000 years. There are also images of the palaeolama, an extinct camelid, as well as giant sloths and ice age horses.
These animals were all seen and painted by some of the very first humans ever to reach the Amazon. Their pictures give a glimpse into a lost, ancient civilisation. Such is the sheer scale of paintings that they will take generations to study.
The discovery was made last year, but has been kept secret until now as it was filmed for a major Channel 4 series to be screened in December: Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon.
The site is in the Serranía de la Lindosa where, along with the Chiribiquete national park, other rock art had been found. The documentary’s presenter, Ella Al-Shamahi, an archaeologist and explorer, told the Observer: “The new site is so new, they haven’t even given it a name yet.”
In late 2017 Michiko Ogawa and Sam Dunscombe proposed a Liquid Architecture program dedicated to the work of maverick Japanese composer and musician Teiji Ito, best known for his legendary collaborations with filmmaker Maya Deren. Ogawa was close to completing her doctorate on Ito at University of California San Diego conducting important research in his archives at The New York Public Library, New York Filmmakers Coop, and the Maya Deren Estate. Ogawa’s proposal was to stage a live performance of Ito’s music for film using transcriptions and notations that she had produced over the course of her research. Together, we approached Brisbane International Film Festival, and in October 2018 Teiji Ito : Music for Film took place in the cinema at Gallery of Modern Art with an ensemble including Ogawa and Dunscombe with Nat Grant, Kaylie Melville, Sam Pankhurst, James Rushford and Kim Tan performing to 16mm film prints borrowed from the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. The piece below is a first hand account of Ogawa’s research journey into the remarkable and under-appreciated world of Teiji Ito, presented alongside the recordings of his music performed in 2018.
In a muddy windbreak atop the Pennines, three fields over from Hadrian’s Wall, stands a 19th-century stone farmhouse where Michael Chapman has lived with his partner, Andru, “happily unmarried”, for the past 45 years. It is a dark winter night, and in their crimson-walled parlour, faces lit by the roaring fire, stories are being told. Chapman has just related the tale of the weathered Martin D-18 guitar in the corner of the room, played by Jimi Hendrix in Soho’s Les Cousins club, while Chapman slept, mid-set, in the car outside. Now the couple are recalling the night in Hull in 1969 when Nick Drake came to stay.
“He’d played the Haworth Arms [in Hull],” says Chapman, “and they’d hated him. He never never lifted his head between songs. I felt sick watching him, but what he played was incredible.” The Haworth Arms, for what it’s worth, now has Drakes Bar, “named after the famous folk musician who played here in the 60s”.
After the gig, Andru saw Drake standing alone under a street lamp. “I asked where he was staying,” she says. “He had nowhere. I said: ‘Come with us.’”
This is how an evening with Chapman goes: reminiscences and memories, told with a dry-stone Yorkshire poetry, and red wine top-ups, the host assuming a quiet supporting role in the three-act dramas of the more famous.
In theory, we’re here to discuss Chapman’s new studio album. Named 50, after his years on the road, and produced by the US guitarist Steve Gunn at Black Dirt Studio in Westtown, New York, it’s a rich, haunting, collection of forlorn love songs, apocalyptic picaresques and bewitching instrumentals that marks the latest stage in a remarkable career renaissance, fuelled by experimental solo guitar LPs, an impressive reissue campaign, and collaborations with Hiss Golden Messenger and the No-Neck Blues Band, that has seen this granite-faced 76-year-old Yorkshireman hailed by the likes of Meg Baird, William Tyler and Ryley Walker as the godfather of new cosmic Americana.
When odd, skull-shaped grave items were found by archaeologists decades ago at an Aztec temple in Mexico, they were assumed to be mere toys or ornaments, and were catalogued and stored in warehouses. However, years later, experts discovered they were creepy ‘death whistles’ that made piercing noises resembling a human scream, which the ancient Aztecs may have used during ceremonies, sacrifices, or during battles to strike fear into their enemies.
The Aztec Death Whistles were Not Common Instruments
Two skull-shaped, hollow whistles were found 20 years ago at the temple of the wind god Ehecatl, in the hands of a sacrificed male skeleton. When the whistles were finally blown, the sounds created were described as terrifying. The whistles make the sounds of “humans howling in pain, spooky gusts of whistling wind or the ‘scream of a thousand corpses” writes MailOnline.
If you want to build a Cristal Baschet of your very own, you have arrived in the right place. This post describes the process of building a cristal baschet, with links to materials and tools so that you can build your own exciting instrument made mostly from things you can pick up from your local hardware store, or if online purchasing is more your thing, I have you covered.
Before we delve into the fine details of putting the instrument together, allow me to provide you with some back story on how my own cristal baschets came about. Late in 2019, shortly before we found ourselves in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gabriella Smart (concert pianist) approached me to write a piece of piano music for her that she could tour nationally and internationally with. I was on board, but I wanted to avoid writing music in 12-TET, so the solution I devised was to build her an instrument that she could travel with. I came across the Cristal Baschet in a book called Musical Instrument Design by Bart Hopkin and decided to build an adapted version that could fit into a suitcase.