Air Supply – Graham Lambkin and Jason Lescalleet go deeper into the realm of the Breadwinner.

I recently reviewed The Breadwinner by Graham Lambkin and Jason Lescalleet on this blog. That disc and its followup, Air Supply, are not recent releases although they are both available at Erstwhile Records still. However, the contribution to the ongoing musical conversation they make is valuable, and back in 2010, Air Supply was a disc that made it into most “best” lists at the end of the year, which – I guess – means a lot of other people felt it was a valuable contribution as well.

(Incidentally, I’m not a fan of “best lists” and don’t intend to be doing my own at the end of this or any other year)

Air Supply is a wonderful follow on album to The Breadwinner. I loved The Breadwinner, and spoke at great length about the sense of abjection injected into the everyday sounds of domesticity that these artists were able to conjure up. Where that album was poetic in a way, this one is darker and delves deeper into the troubled psyche of the suburbs, as it were.

There looms within abjection, one of those violent, dark revolts of being, directed against a threat that seems to emanate from an exorbitant outside or inside, ejected beyond the scope of the possible, the tolerable, the thinkable. It lies there, quite close, but it cannot be assimilated.  It beseeches, worries and fascinates desire, which, nevertheless, does not let itself be seduced.  Apprehensive, desire turns aside; sickened, it rejects.  A certainly protected it from the shameful-acertainty of which it is proud holds on to it.But simultaneously, just the same, that impetus, that spasm,that leap is drawn toward an elsewhere as tempting as it is condemned.  Unflaggingly, like an inescapable boomerang, a vortex of summons and repulsion places the one haunted by it literally beside himself.

Julia Kristeva – Powers of Horror

I wrote in my Breadwinner review that I had an intense experience of abjection when I listened to their piece, as if the darkness of suburban life allowed itself to be revealed.  This is not a new subject – literature has been trying to capture the darkness of domesticity for centuries and a (not so) silent battle between the bohemian nature of the artist with their day-to-day is usually manifest in the domestic.  As if “The Suburbs” and “Domesticity” have a kind of power to detract from the free natured spirit of the artist. To a degree, this has validity, and the cry of the feminist is the strongest testament to that. However, moving deeper, one has to confront the reality of horror and that is that it resides firmly in the psyche.  Lambert and Lescalleet are fascinated with this relationship between a certain kind of symbolist reality and its manifestation in the psyche. That is, the symbols we attach to something, don’t necessarily occur as that when we respond. I say they are fascinated, because I hear this enquiry very strongly in these two albums.

For me, the resonating depth of this album is a journey into abjection and the dark apses of my personal fear. I am not afraid of the music, per se, but it conjures up in me my own feelings of unease, and (as the album progresses into its darker and deeper recesses) eventually an intense experience like fear or abjection. This fear does not come from an “object” facing me. It is more of an “ob-jest”, an otherness ceaselessly fleeing in a systematic quest of desire.  There is something in this music I am opposed to, but it is not contained in an object, and it comes up from inside me. In a way, this music removes my correlative which would provide me with the opportunity to establish distance and objectivity. Where often this style of experimental music will entice the listener into a collaborative experience, I feel here that the music abandons me to a place inside, a wound of sorts, that it opens up with my ill-informed permission. I have been drawn into a space where meaning collapses.

Yet, despite this abandonment, the music does not cease challenging the listener. A certain “ego” over which I had control, has been flatly driven away by a “superego” of sorts that lies outside the established experience of listening and refuses the rules to the game. A massive and sudden emergence of uncanniness which may have a familiarity in a forgotten aspect of life now harries me as radically separate and loathsome. Not me.  Not that. But not nothing either.  There is something I do not recognise as a “thing”.  A weight of meaninglessness, insignificant, crushing me. Somehow deep inside this sound that “finds” me loathsome, is the cornerstone of that which we consider to be the primers of our culture.

This wonderful disc (and all the radical glorious experiences of a terrifying freedom that go with it) is available through Erstwhile Records.