Dubliner John Lambert’s third release, his first full album on alternative label Lazybird. Penny Black was written and recorded in his time in The Model Arts & Niland Gallery in Sligo where he received a music fellowship. Running at in at a short-lived but sprightly 34 minutes, lilting Spanish guitar phrases dominate these atmospheric soundscapes and the overbearing glitchy electronics of 2002’s full-length Gothica is put to bed with synths utilised in a more restrained manner.
The upshot is a focus on melody and mood, coloured and decorated with sampled found sounds lending an ambiance of collage to the album. This ties in with Lambert’s modus operandi which finds him producing art pieces and sound installations. In fact, the artwork of the album is comprised of shots of art he himself produced.
Like his art, his music is textural. The title track and opener starts with a distinctly Irish sample introducing guitar and a whirling synth melody which gives way to a pan-pipe-sounding synth line before collapsing into a Boards of Canada-esque outro. ‘Konichiwa’ which featured on 2005’s mini-EP Dictaphone Showreels is a resonant piece in which the baton is passed between guitar and rolling synth with the instruments conversing along the way.
Much of the album has a relaxed, eerie quality that would fit perfectly in the rich, innocent otherworldliness of a Japanese animated film from Studio Ghibli. The music is subtle and engaging and if your mind drifts off into a daydream, it will be because of Chequerboard not despite him.
Chequerboard is having an album launch on the 2nd March with support Carly Sings in the new upstairs Whelans venue in Dublin. €10. 8.30pm
Chequerboard – Konichiwa