The Breadwinner – Graham Lambkin and Jason Lescalleet make art out of the everyday.

A regal soul, inadvertently surrendering to the crab of lust, the octopus of weakmindedness, the shark of individual abjection, the boa of absent morality, and the monstrous snail of idiocracy!

Lautreamont, Les Chants de Maldoror

The Breadwinner

musical settings for common environments and domestic situations

I did a review on here around Christmas time of Trent Parke’s series of photographs called The Christmas Tree Bucket.  These Photographs are the listing of Christmas in the suburbs of Adelaide and include all the darkness and horror that is the subtext of the domesticated family Christmas drama.

With The Breadwinner, Graham Lambkin and Jason Lescalleet have done something similar with the sounds of domesticity. While some try to transcend or escape this circumstance, Graham Lambkin and Jason Lescalleet have made it a cornerstone of their art. “The Breadwinner is subtitled “musical settings for common environments and domestic situations,” but they’ve also made these musical settings from common environmental sounds and domestic situations. While both men are credited with using microphone, tapes, and Casio SK-5 (a cheap sampling keyboard), the main sound sources are the contents of Lambkin’s apartment; the utensils, people, and records within it, and its essential parts were fair game, as were any sounds that happened to come through the window while the two men wrestled with their reels of tape.” (Bill Meyer for Dusted)

When psychoanalysts speak of an object they speak of the object of desire as it si elaborated within the Oedipian triangle. According to that trope, the father is the mainstay of law and the mother the prototype of the object.  Toward the mother there is convergence not only of survival needs  but of the first mimetic yearnings. She is the other subject, an object that guarantees my being as subject. The mother is my first object – both desiring and signifyable.

However there are problems with this thesis that come out in the sound recording of The Breadwinner. 

Before we are absorbing a desire for mother, aren’t we (chronologically and logically speaking) attaching to  – well if not actual objects, then pre-objects, poles of attraction of a demand for air, food motion? Do we not also find, in the very process that constitutes the mother as other, a series of semi-objects that stake out the transition  from a state of in-differentiation to one of discretion (subject / object) — semi-objects that have been suggested as to be transitional. (Winnicott)

Objects have sounds, according to Graham Lambkin.  Deep subterranean influences that move beyond the pulse of mothers heart and the catch of her breath. Objects can be experienced prior to our awareness of them. In the case of what Lambkin and Lescalleet tell us, we can have an experience of them prior to our awareness of them. It is through sound that we are made aware that these objects are around us, and they are taken out of the context we give them. Our sensory connection to objects must have planted itself somewhere within. If the removal of the breast impacted the psyche to the point of castration complex that then defines our entire relationship to objects, what has the sound of the stirring of liquid at the same time impacted upon us? Confronted with the notion of the child that knows what it wants but can’t inform the adult, we adults use the word ‘fear’. Fear therefore could be the upsetting of a bio-drive balance.

The constitution of object relation might then be a reiteration of fear, alternating with optimal but precarious sates of balance. Fear and object proceed together until one represses the other.  But in which of us is that fully successful? (Julia Kristeva Powers of Horror)

Graham Lambkin and Jason Lescalleet have taken those sounds, those ones we heard as infants and children, the sounds of the home, and made a disc. One of the most interesting aspects of this series of tracks is the abjection it stirred up in me, which was why I wanted to make a relation between my early experiences of abjection and the home. It is called The Breadwinner, establishing a father figure (rule of law) over the top of the smoothed over, and played back collection of nuances that are the sounds of the domestic situation. As if the recording of the sounds wasn’t enough, Lambkin and Lescalleet edited and re-recorded much of what they originally collected driven by  – i can only imagine – their own inner creative response to what they absorbed. Perhaps by their own oedipal battle between fear and object. Here is what Tiny Mix tapes had to say about their editing process:

Lambkin and Lescalleet are editors of the best variety, so recording sound was only half the story. Through tape manipulation and various editing techniques,The Breadwinner falls even closer in line with The Anti-Naturals theory by appropriating the mundane (for aesthetic reasons, of course). The result sounds like an inadvertent exploration of dislocation and displacement, much differently than musique conrète and minimalist compositions or the real-time experiments of, say, nmperign or Sunn O))). It’s actually most similar in spirit to Lambkin’s work from last year, Salmon Run, but while that album saw him invading public-domain classical works in a concise, direct way, most everything on The Breadwinner feels a little off and uneasy, a little smeared. Even Lambkin’s own invasions this time around — on “Listen, The Snow Is Falling” and “Lucy Song” — are either more timid or directed at himself. It sounds simultaneously like self-parody, pastiche, and compromise, but it’s all the better because of this.


1. Listen, The Snow Is Falling

2. There And Back

3. E5150/Body Transport

4. Soap Opera Suite

5. Lucy Song

6. Two States

7. There And Back Again

8. The Breadwinner

The Breadwinner is available from Erstwhile Records.