I Prefer The Obscure Remix Blog

Chequerboard – Penny Black

Well, I’m back!
Seven days in New York, the perfect antidote to all those blues and woes. Although I missed this little old blog I have to say, so it’s good to be back. I’ll hopefully step up the posts now, and quit moaning about having no time. I’m sure the award winning Nialler – congrats! – has been keeping you up to date anyway.
So, what have I learnt in the last week?
Well, New York is warmer than Ireland at this time of year. American free pour drinks are dangerous, but fun! The Slits get better and better live with every drink (see previous comment). The new Kelley Polar album sounds great. Walking across Brooklyn bridge is really beautiful, and not that hard if you suffer from vertigo. The Pistons rule, and the Knicks suck. You can’t smoke outside in a queue for a club?! No matter where you go, you’ll always bump into someone that knows a mate of yours, fact! Brooklyn kicks Manhattan’s ass.

Here’s a very brief look towards the future. I’m going through a big techno phase again, so I’m really looking forward to the Michael Mayer dj set this Sunday, and Ricardo Villalobos on May 3rd.
Albums I can’t wait to get my hands on are m83, Jamie Lidell, Holy Ghost, Kelley Polar, Esse Jain, and Notwist.
I was foaming at the mouth in a previous post about the new Chequerboard album on Lazybird Records. Below is my review for Totally Dublin. Penny Black is a real triumph. John Lambert deserves all the credit (and Choice nominations) he gets.
Check out his myspace if you like the sound of the review.

Chequerboard – Penny Black [Lazybird Records]

Time is a precious commodity. Everything else, John Lambert has in abundance. Already a gifted guitarist, exceptional producer, and talented graphic artist, Lambert found that time in the guise of a music fellowship, awarded courtesy of the Model Arts & Niland Gallery. A year spent in Sligo has yielded Penny Black – a momentous album of arresting beauty and depth. Lambert signalled his intent last year with the re-release of his colourfully textured Dictaphone Showreels EP, and Penny Black elaborates on this template, exploring and challenging Lambert’s ability as an accomplished musician, composer, and producer. From the opening track – also entitled Penny Black – the sheer extent of this exploration becomes apparent. Layers of undulating guitar lines shift and reverse, amidst a backdrop of rich electronic instrumentation and sparse, distant percussion. The latter half of the song is transformed by a sudden downpour of rain and an oblique vocal sample – found sounds and field recordings that echo Lambert’s solitary location during the making of this record. Within one song – and on several occasions throughout the album – Chequerboard invokes the spirit of Bola, The Books, Boards of Canada, and countless other electroacoustic innovators, but arguably with a superior display of technical ability and musicianship. There can be a tendency for music of this nature to drift anonymously into the background, but Penny Black never succumbs to such pitfalls. The nine tracks contained – in particular Skating Ground, Konichiwa, 20th Century Artillery, and Prince August – are simply too captivating, making it virtually impossible to resist further engagement or closer examination. Chequerboard’s music avoids the familiar, unnecessary or incidental, making this a defiant, deliberate and complete collection of beautiful songs. Penny Black is definitive proof that the time and effort invested by Lambert in his craft has produced a work of real importance. Invest some of your own time in this masterpiece.

See also: Boards of Canada – The Campfire Headphase (Warp Records), Bola – Soup (Skam Records), The Books – Lost and Safe (Tomlab).

March 12, 2008 - Posted by | Chequerboard, New York


  1. Thanks Cillian. Glad you had a good time in NY.

    Comment by Niall | March 12, 2008 | Reply

  2. Hey C- met you briefly at the blog awards and Derek only told me afterwards IPtOR was you!
    Great review for Chequerboard- have only heard a couple of tracks so far but they are bloody good.
    Oh and being a Yank I love the way the drinks aren’t measured in the States…dangerous though when you drink straight vodka!

    Comment by tenacioustimothy | March 12, 2008 | Reply

  3. Aye, tis me alright Tim!
    My cover is well and truly blown. So much for anonymity.
    As a vodka drinker myself I took great pleasure in the free pour system, up until a point – ie the next morning when I could barely function!
    Catch ya soon, and check out the Chequerboard album, it’s a gem.

    Nialler – many thanks, NY was great. Gutted to be back.

    Comment by i prefer the obscure remix | March 13, 2008 | Reply

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