Bill Nace & Graham Lambkin - The Dishwashers LP (Open Mouth, 2020)
Following his otherworldly duo performance with the great Susan Alcorn at Cropped Out 2016 (and in consideration of his being a stone-cool motherfucker with proven propensity for laid-back good-time river-hang vibes), I had wanted to bring Joe McPhee back to Louisville in 2018 for a second-round engagement, this time alongside his (once) upstate neighbor and occasional collaborator Graham Lambkin.
I had also recently, around that same time, become buds with Bill Nace after a slew of mutual-friend connections and happenstance run-ins, during which the topic of getting him to KY for a C.O. set of some sort quickly became a topic of discussion. When Joe couldn't make the trip back down due to unforeseen scheduling conflicts, some pieces were shifted around (over the course of a long and splintered e-mail discourse between Bill, Graham, myself, and some Blank Forms people whom (if I recall correctly) were also trying to get Graham from London to NYC for an unrelated gig on the same transpo-juggled jaunt) in a winding effort to facilitate what would eventually become The Dishwashers' (known then, and until the release of this LP, only as "Bill Nace & Graham Lambkin" duo's) first performance.
The expectation or lack thereof-shattering result was a gorgeously hushed offering of alien acoustic and electro string treatments (after they finished, I vaguely remember Graham saying something along the lines of it being the first time he touched a guitar on stage in 20 years), shifting in current between two human blurs, alone in the glow and intentionally obscured by a large plastic sheet weighted down by a fake fern (*see photos), oscillating over the audible hum of real bugs, river-at-night nuances, and the pregnant silence of an equally captive/confused audience.
Bill and Graham have both mentioned to me that there are actual recorded elements from that set mixed into the record itself. Where and what they are, I can't identify and don't really need to, but they're in there somewhere, providing their own little light-of-origin, I'm sure. It's a really lovely record regardless and I couldn't be happier to hear the nearly-never-happened collaboration take such organic shape as it does within these open-air and oddly joyful compositions.
"Bill Nace and Graham Lambkin first played together in Fall 2018, in Kentucky, behind plastic. In that performance, they sometimes played the same instrument at the same time. Time passed, then they recorded this album in Fall 2019, in London. I was told that an acoustic guitar, a cymbal and tapes were used in the recording and I have no reason to doubt that. There are also voices, birds, a room, the outside world...; a bow is used. Bill & Graham both deal in different kinds of tension & discomfort and while this album is both like & unlike what I've heard from either of them, it is somewhat remarkably laid-back. Though there are separate and distinct tracks, they flow into each other organically. Not without some jagged interruptions - in fact, many of the tracks *announce* themselves with a sudden cough, squeak or scrape - but the field recording aspects (passing cars, a siren, some banter) act as a leitmotif holding things together, adding a casual ambiance that *almost* invites a casual listen. But it is deceptive in that way. It is not a hermetic recording. As much as it doesn't exclude the sounds of the outside world, it also lies open to interpretation. Themes recur just enough to create a connective tissue that frames some of the more seemingly disparate elements. Brief fragments of conversation invite the mind to try to understand and create its own narrative; a pizzicato, modal folksong played on guitar, then played back on tape at the end of Side A has a reprise midway through Side B; hints of ancient music are bowed or chanted... This is not a tapestry without thread, but you've also got to bring some of your own." - Greg Kelley Somerville MA 2020