THE TICKET - THE IRISH TIMES
Reviewed by Jim Carroll
More capital city electronica shenanigans for you to ooh and aah over. John Lambert is this week's model who's directing the beeps and bleeps. In the case of his debut album as Chequerboard, what cuts into the sometimes austere chill of the electronic tones is a warmly wrapped acoustic poise. At times, especially on tracks such as Bats and Nomads, there's a confidence that Lambert is bang on the money and his crisp sense of adventure pays dividends in spades.
Indeed, it's an ability to harvest almost orchestral sweeps of sound, Warp-style background noises and an accomplished regard for astute melodies which mark this album as one to explore further. Check out the compact disc booklet, with its sweet graphic tale of a mute boy, a friendly giant, a robot and a fink.
Reviewed by Eamonn Sweeney
Chequerboard (aka John Lambert) has a whole lot more going on than just the standard anonymous box of tricks. Gothica has its own set of characters, stories, themes and three-dimensional moods, which is a relief because I'm not sure just how much more 'abstract' electronica a body can take.
A mute boy, a cute giant, a foreboding robot and a sly fink populate the sleeve booklet's curious and distinctive art landscape, which in turn is a take on the moods and nuances of the musical soundscape found within. Fourteen tracks marry a musical box of icy chimes and wintry melodies with an inviting acoustic warmth, allowing the brain to run riot and imagine the various goings on the Gothica world.
These characters were brought to life on the streets of Dublin with an installation in the former Arthouse facility window during December, lending the city an oasis of sound and vision in the midst of Christmas chaos. The overall tone may sound a little too uniform on first listening, but subtle surprises and hidden layers reveal themselves with each trip to the sonic fields. It's well worth dropping by for a day (and night) trip.
Reviewed by Eamonn Carr
It was one of those small epiphanies that brighten up the day and linger in the memory bank long afterwards. One evening as I made my way through the frantic festive season rush, I turned into Curved Street while attempting a short-cut through busy Temple Bar.
Suddenly I was alone and, heres the cool stuff, the air was filled with delicate musical notes, as crisp as snow, as bright as crystals and warm as an embrace.The sound seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere.Ripples of synth notes and clusters of guitar arpeggios fell from the sky in gentle waves.At first I suspected I was hearing Japanese electronic pioneer Isao Tomita re-working further compositions by Debussy. I was wrong.
Remarkably, this ambient soundtrack proved to be credited to Chequerboard, the Nom-de-guerre of Dubliner John Lambert, a design graduate who's already well known in local songwriting circles.
His Gothica is a multi-faceted work featuring 14 miniature soundscapes, which, though different in atmosphere and mood, work together as a contemporary orchestral work. Clearly, Lambert's songwriting experience has helped him shape and construct a series of instrumental passages that display individual character while remaining part of the greater work.
For example, the percussive aplomb of Nomads glides effortlessly into the elegant swirl of Ice Maiden before morphing into the tentative tease of Glasshands.
If there's any justice in the netherworld where art and commerce meet, John Lambert will recieve either a bursary or a major record deal which will enable him to further develop his distinctive voice.