Graham Lambkin / Michael Pisaro - Schwarze Riesenfalter (Erstwhile)


Purchase Schwarze Riesenfalter here

Schwarze Riesenfalter is a wholly unique work for both Lambkin and Pisaro. For one, it feels like a modern day tone poem. The symmetry of the track times as well as the fact that the album and song titles match the accompanying poem indicate that there’s an intention to create a narrative and representation of the text through music. Consequently, a clear reference point seems to be Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire and the Giraud poems from which that work builds on. Talking with Pisaro, he states that the creative process for the record was mostly intuitive, however, and the literary allusions that were then used for the track titles “seemed more than appropriate, almost like we’d been visited by it”. He also mentioned the works of Trakl, and it seems incredibly appropriate because like the Austrian poet’s (later) worksSchwarze Riesenfalter is incredibly visual and atmospherically ominous without feeling heavy handed or dishonest. It’s precisely the way that Lambkin and Pisaro handle the theatrics on this record that makes it so admirable. The piano is most impressively utilized, often providing restraint by grounding the sounds it juxtaposes while simultaneously creating tension through rumbling overtones and the weight of single atonal notes. And with a large sound palette and effective pacing, Schwarze Riesenfalter proves to be a journey that’s as mesmerizing as it is entertaining.

[note: this mini-review originally appeared in a multi-part post recounting my ten favorite records of January]