Live London #13: Graham Lambkin / Call Back The Giants / Helm
Show review from August 6th, 2010 at Cafe Oto in London featuring Graham Lambkin, Call Back the Giants and Helm.','Show review from August 6th, 2010 at Cafe Oto in London featuring Graham Lambkin, Call Back the Giants and Helm. I was disappointed by the headliners, but a smashing performance from Helm and some creepy poetry from Call Back The Giants made it all worthwhile.
Appearing under electric light beyond a dark backdrop, Luke Younger, a.k.a. Helm, stooped over various equipment. Wires tubed their way amidst boxes, mixers and other electronic fare. The crowd sat and stood in relative silence as he brought sound through elevated speakers. Rotating blips, like a possessed 808, entangled abstract tones. Warped vocal samples appeared unclear, muddied adding an organic air. This juxtaposition of sound entwined with unexpected grace to forge a pillar of noise that writhed with a wonderful elasticity. Seeing Younger previously, he has produced quite towering and rigid tones. This performance projected a movement of bendable tonality. High frequency blasts split the eardrums of the audience with a direct and ceaseless change of state. The hubbub entered a more imposing plane of menace. There were crazed SOS signals, and an incredible balance issued forth sitting in a strange limbo between tranquillity and peril. Charged and pulsating electronics looped like a minimal dial-up tone. Subterranean bass moved in a fleeting bassline that faded as soon as manifest. Helicopter oscillation injected a kinetic vibe that trembled the room in which I sat.
Rotating metals, like grinding machinery issued a second movement. A ping-pong rhythm drifted with a varying tempo, lulling the listener, and then surprising in the randomness of its pace. Things heightened in volume and intensity to a warbled bubble-bath of noise. Changes in pitch motioned an awkward ebb and flow that brought to mind erratic protons, fired at each other via an incompetent technician. This then developed into a distorted sonar sound that was matched with elements of skewed, aquatic dub. Elements of Orphan Fairytale and Dolphins Into The Future sprang to mind, although under greater strain and full of sinister tones. The sink and swell of the final moments ended a wonderful display and left me wanting more.
The two acts that followed Helm where (primarily) solo projects of the now disbanded Shadow Ring. Members Tim Goss (Call Back The Giants) and Graham Lambkin were due to follow. Shadow Ring’s recent anthology, “Life Review,” lasted only moments as the indie’s stock was hovered by collectors, intriguers and fans alike. Everyone I spoke to had lauded the Shadow Ring’s output and I was extremely intrigued to see how these experimentalists sounded several years on.
A male/female duo appeared on stage and sat between a keyboard, laptop and a microphone apiece. Low bass tones and unfolding electronic tones faded into the air with respiratory drones. 70’s synth seeped into the din with neon intensity. Ascending spiral tones were quite mesmerising; pitching a sound one wouldn’t be surprised to enjoy in a John Carpenter flick. Blips and splurges of noise erupted and then faded into an awkward silence. The second piece began with chopper rhythms over 1-2 tone repeats. This was all served across a washing metal wave of sound. Underneath these sequences rested blurred vocals and abstract field recordings. Poetry was introduced in flat English accents, the pair utilizing the male/female range in a simple, yet affecting manner. The words were both gothic and minimal; comparatively goth/ no-wave in both attitude and content. The various movements that followed utilised the same themes. Goss remained on stage alone for the remainder of the set, his partner having muttered only a handful of words. There was an element of extremely dry humor about much of the performance. It was delivered extremely straight, with strict control on vocal delivery. His voice altered pace and pitch in such a way to maintain interest and accentuate certain points. I found some of the poetry a little too dry, and the humor seemingly unintentional. I was quite often reminded of Chris Morris’s radio comedy “Jam.” I thoroughly enjoyed the set, yet I remain sceptical of the outcome as some of the humor felt a little unintentional.
Lambkin appeared sitting at a simple desk, a light illuminating him starkly against the blackness of his surroundings. Orange streetlights seeped into the room via large glass windows. This extra sunset ambience added a campfire and cosy feel to the space. The candle on my table flickered and Lambkin turned a page of a landscape white pad, filled with poems. Lambkin’s poems where pitted in very English landscapes, both pastoral and urban. His characters were faded and stark, his settings were bleak and oppressive. The rhetoric of his verse often grated and I felt like some of the shorts were trite and devoid of the richness and imagination I was hoping for. Many of his musings were regurgitations of what they followed. Characters and themes seemed to repeat to no further enlightened conclusion. There were some notable exceptions, and some fantastically punk inspired offerings that spat as they were spoken. “The Riverside” and “Complex Piss” were particularly brilliant. Muttered laughter and a courteous silence filled the room as the evening drew to a close. I left having thoroughly enjoyed the evening as a whole. I was disappointed by the headliners, but a smashing performance from Helm and some creepy poetry from Call Back The Giants made it all worthwhile.
-- Peter Taylor (25 August, 2010)