Simon Wickham-Smith & Richard Youngs


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The original release of the partnership was launched onto an unsuspecting world, as the two explain in the liner notes for the CD reissue, out of friendship, and resulted in no sales, desperation, and the sending of a copy for review by the noted zine Forced Exposure. The floodgates then opened. Lake, first cut and released as four side-long tracks on double vinyl, is a self-consciously experimental record that found the two full of some inspired ideas; if not as complex and detailed as many later releases, it's almost the closest the two might come to demos in the conventional sense. Even as a new rock underground was being created around the shadowy power of Slint and the rediscovery of Krautrock and related art rock efforts by a new generation, the Youngs/Wickham-Smith partnership in many ways had already merrily trumped them. Nothing resembling a regular rock structure turns up beyond the briefest of moments -- instead, the inspirational anything-goes approach of Faust and Popol Vuh's mysterious spiritualism were the closest touchstones, while any number of avant-garde composers likely provided more direct sources for the two and their occasional guest performers. Experiments in sonic collage predominate on the first two tracks, "Lake" and "Lake, Pt. 2," with the two playing just about everything available (credits range from pennywhistles to cardboard boxes), while chants, backwards masking, tape cut-ups, and other touches are mixed amidst the shimmering drones and sudden stop-start performances. The third cut, "Lake, Pt. 3" (aka "Chord") is the only track of the four presented as one straight-through composition, and it lives up to its name, one chord played on guitar and organ again and again, though with subtle variation as it goes, while "Lake, Pt. 4" wraps up the album in more chaotic but entrancing fashion, thanks to its epic concluding part, "Goat."

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