Shadow Ring


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City Lights (1993), 6/10
Put The Music In It's Coffin (1994), 5/10
Wax-Work Echoes (1996), 5/10
Hold Onto I.D. (1997), 6/10
Lighthouse (1999), 5/10
Lindus (2001), 5/10
I'm Some Songs (2005), 4.5/10
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English duo Shadow Ring (guitarist Graham Lambkin and percussionist Darren Harris) resurrected the noise-folk tradition of Half Japanese with the EP Don't Open The Window (1993), whose Don't Open The Window sounds like a mental-asylum version of a Scottish folk song, and the album City Lights (Dry Leaf Discs, 1993), where an atonal guitar destroys simple folk tunes, which are either half-sung (City Lights) or not sung at all (Cape of Seaweed and Here Come The Candles). The core of the ten-minute Faithful Calls is a childish instrumental jam with a saxophone that intones a county-fair sort of melody, and that ends in a dissonant mayhem.

Keyboardist Tim Goss joined the duo for Put The Music In It's Coffin (Siltbreeze, 1994), but the difference in sound is negligible. Put The Music In Its Coffin offers again recitation with an amateurish musical accompaniment, except that this time it is a vaguely bluesy thing, and Horse Meat Cakes is six minutes of instrumental torture coupled with some deranged mumbling.

The noise evokes psychedelic music in the single Some Of Us (1994), which ends with one of their most deranged jams.

The single Tiny Creatures/ Harlequin (1995) collects two more declamations with demented music.

Poetry is still the focus of pieces like Gloved Up and Wallet Of Wasps on Wax-Work Echoes (Corpus Hermeticum, 1996), but Apricot Rat has more intricate music, and the seven-minute You're Holding All Your Feathered Stock opens with similar jamming for four minutes.

A theatrical or cinematic feeling emanates from the spare but electronic dissonance of the nine-minute single Mouth On Mouse/ Mouse In Mouth (1997), a sign that there was still hope of musical progress.

Hold Onto I.D. (Siltbreeze, 1997) offers a little more electronics. In fact, The Way Of The World borders on musique concrete. Wash What You Eat balances recitation and sound effects. The seven-minute Like When succumbs to Dadaism. Poetry prevails in the other seven-minute piece, Hold Onto I.D., and it's not good news.

The double-LP Lighthouse (Swill Radio, 1999) is a colossal mess of ideas, from the expressionist theater of I Am Lloyd Lyson and She's A Cracker to the parodistic harpsichord sonata I Am A Lighthouse and the grotesque ballet Egg Mombassa and the rusty carillon motif of Oyster Shell via the ear-splitting electronics of If It's A Boy and X-Ray My Mind. The last twenty minutes are particularly verbose and irrelevant. The project feels like a rock opera by the Residents but without the musical skills and with a less funny sense of humor.

The structure of their "recitations" didn't change on Lindus (2001) either, and We're Complex Piss, The Riverside and Mind Blocks Crack are stories hanging from a feeble electronic signal.

I'm Some Songs (2005), recorded in 2001-02, offers more musical and fewer words, but the chirping synth lines of Man On The Land and the burping synth lines of Start Repeating don't amount to much more than a child playing with the knobs of the instrument.

Life Review (2009) is a career retrospective that also contains rarities.

After relocating to New York state, Graham Lambkin launched a prolific solo career at the border between musique concrete and free improvisation: Poem For Voice & Tape (2001), Unfocused Hands (2004), Draining The Vats (2006), Salmon Run (2007), Softly Softly Copy Copy (2009), Amateur Doubles (2011), Millows (2012), Swan Song (2014), Community (2016), Two Points On The Angle (2017), two volumes of No Better No Worse (2018), etc. There were also several collaborations with Jason Lescalleet: The Breadwinner (2008), Air Supply (2010) and the double-disc Photographs (2013). Other collaborations include Making A (2013) with Keith Rowe, Chance Meeting (2015) with Joe McPhee, Schwarze Riesenfalter (2015) with Michael Pisaro, the double-disc The Whistler (2017) with Japanese laptop improviser Taku Unami, Green Ways (2018) with Irish harpist Aine O'Dwyer, The Dishwashers (2020) with guitar improviser Bill Nace, etc. In the 2010s Lambkin was also active as a visual artist (from his website: "Lambkin's visual art explores the metamorphic properties of the drawing medium in which the abstract and the figurative perpetually shape-shift across contrasting visual planes, thereby undermining the expected categories of image content" - whatever that means).

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