Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Graham Lambkin/Jason Lescalleet - Air Supply (Erstwhile)
Once again, I'm confronted with a release I enjoy very much but find very difficult to parse, to explain exactly why I like it. There's something insidious about it, some underlying itch that's almost belied by the surface smoothness which, if not quite as placid as the musical reference made by the album title, is certainly not hard to listen to cursorily. With a couple of brief, harsh exceptions, there's nothing particularly noisy or aggressive about the music, but there does seem to be a sense of lurking disquiet.
The album is bracketed by two longer tracks, the first mixing medium level hums with recordings of wind--not smooth wind but the buffeting kind, offering padded jabs at one's eardrums. It subsides further from there in the next cut, "Layman's Lament", muffled moans wisping over dark stone, metal or glass clanging off to the side, threatening, birds. "Color Drop" includes a melodic fragment that sounds eerily familiar; a lovely, cloudy piece humorously ended with some dour dialog about VHS tapes. There follows something of a triptych, three shortish pieces, "69ºF", "68ºF" and "67ºF", the first two quite similar (possibly much the same set of sounds altered?), the last introduced by a 15-second squawk of lava-like noise, but then deflating languorously like a wheezing, punctured dirigible. Very nice....
"Air Pressure" begins with what sounds like more explosions, though wrapped in enough padding to render them muted and implosive, offset by further wheezing, the deflationary spiral continuing. The title track has circled around to the territory covered in the opener, but from another angle, bleaker, less submerged tonality, more arid, the dangerous hints beginning to be glimpsed beneath the translucent surface of drone. I should mention that, although no specific instrumentation is listed, the sounds appear to have been generated almost entirely via electronics and site recordings, with the odd voice; save for perhaps that bit in the third track, I couldn't detect any of Lambkin's sampling or, for that matter Lescalleet's tape loops, at least overtly. I could, of course, be entirely wrong about this.
"Air Supply" is oddly unsettling, gripping without offering much in the way of handholds. Lambkin and Lescalleet manage to find an absorbing space between hitherto unnoticed cracks. Glad they found it.