The Shadow Ring - City Lights LP
Label: Blank Forms
Release Date: October 6th, 2023
Recorded and self-released by The Shadow Ring's own Dry Leaf Discs in 1993, City Lights is the debut record of the then duo Graham Lambkin and Darren Harris–an assured arrival statement teeming with stripling angst and ambition. On a recently-acquired secondhand guitar, Lambkin plays repetitive, brooding licks that form the record's backbone, weaving in and out of sync with Harris's free-form percussion and the pair's sing-song poetry. Tracks range from unraveling nursery-rhyme ditties to extended jams awash with Casiotone and toy piano noodling. The duo's musical hobby-horses work themselves in: the influence of Mark E. Smith's breathless deadpan, the headless outer-edges of ESP-Disk's back catalog, the eerie atmospherics of Hirsche Nicht Aufs Sofa, and the deconstructed rock tunes of the Dunedin scene are all detectable, although there is a sui generis quality to the Shadow Ring's artless temerity. "I've got to see and taste those city lights," intones Lambkin on the album's title track–indeed, this is a record of naked drive and pent-up desperation, and a shimmering glimpse of what's to come.