Lamkins Caird Williams – Sound City

Genre: Jazz
Released: June 2018
Reviewed by: Benedict Roff-Marsh

Lamkins Caird Williams, otherwise known as “LCW” recorded “Sound City: Improvisations, volume 47” in Nov 2016 but it just made its way out now.

I don’t know why the time lag and why suddenly a lot of material has been posted recently. I also don’t know anything at all about these three cats as there are no links to websites or Facebook. Maybe I show my lack of cred in Jazz in not knowing any of these things.

Apart from who played what, all they tell us is:

Recorded live, direct-to-stereo; no edits; no overdubs.

This is jam jazz as a group exploration in which all input contributes equally. The group’s direction is a sum of individual vectors, determined entirely in the moment. LCW showcases exploration, not individual virtuosity or ego.

I understand Jam and I understand Jazz. The ego stuff not so much.

What I do know though is that this is a fascinating record. These three fellows, do seem to know their way around their instruments and scales. They also seem to have the chops to be able to explore the dark edges of what we expect to hear.

This is a bit more out there than George Benson but not as far out there as some things that I have heard that sound like a group of mangey cats being poked with hot wires. Except in “Pinball Samurai” where there are some odd noises – but not enough to freak a boy out.

LCW has a sense of melodic movement that ties this together well enough to avoid it becoming a seemingly random collection of noises. Although at times it can go a bit close for a dedicated follower of Pop or Rock.

Evan as the guys explore the recesses of their chord progressions, they manage to keep a refined sound. There are a few mentions of synths & effects in the player list so I think that is part of why the sound is pleasingly smoothed.

Guitar, effects, synthesizer: David Lamkins
Bass, cello, effects: Stephen Caird
Drums, effects: Joe Williams

What you get are five long pieces, ranging from 5:25 to 18:07. None are exactly ABBA songs but definitely not going to lose your interest if you are open to exploring over the horizon.

Do I have a favorite piece? No, not really. I think they are similar enough that they gel well enough that I don’t have to say “cool single, crap filler”. The first half of the record feels more Jazz but from the second half of the aforementioned “Pinball Samauri”, things tend into the Prog Rock space which is, of course, cool with me.

As for what I can compare it to, geez that does leave me out of my depth as I have so little Jazz past stuff like George Benson & Sade and they are not really Jazz in the proper sense. I’ll try but don’t expect to recognize any of these.

Mariano Hayón is an Argentinian fellow who released a few albums but then disappeared but has resurfaced bending his Prog Jazz into video game music! His last album Outside was a better fit but in disappearing his music has gone too (except on YouTube). Klaus Schulze’s “Dune” because the last piece has similarities and China Crisis simply because of the lovely silky sounds they both create.

The great news is that if you are intrigued (or delighted) with that you hear on the embed above, LCW is offering their album under “Name Your Price” so it can’t get any better than that price wise. Gotta be worth a few coins to be able to say you dig Experimental Jazz (and have a record to prove it) 😉

UPDATE: I had an email from David Lamkins and he had this to say about the delay between recording and release:

You asked why we have such a long delay between recording and release. The short answer is that we got caught off-guard. I don’t think any of us anticipated that we’d end up with so much releaseable material.

We record everything. Always have. At the start, the recordings were just for us to review a session. It’s really difficult to perform and analyze at the same time; we don’t even try, certainly not beyond the level of “what’s happening in the room and how should I respond?” Several years ago we noticed that we were enjoying some of the session recordings as music rather than as a rehash of the session.

Our first LCW release was culled from about 18 months of sessions. The second and third releases each contain tracks recorded over consecutive six month periods. The fourth and fifth releases each took about three months of sessions. From the tenth release onward, each release is a single recording session.