Boomkat Product Review:
Unmissable introduction to Zimbabwean-British percussionist Lori Vambe - a one-time bandmate of Michael O’Shea in The Healing Drums of Brixton! - compiled from a pair of hard-to-find 1982 self releases sure to pique keen interest from fans of Nana Vasconceles, Harry Partch, Moondog
Arguably a new name to many of us, Lori Vambe was a distinctive component of London’s experimental underground since the ’70s, when he participated in the early squatters movement that provided sanctuary to a wave of non-commercial and outsider musicians. Born in Harare to a noted journalist and author, Lawrence Vambe, and moving to London in 1959, Lori Vambe, we’re told, became immersed in the same Brixton squat scene that fostered the likes of Bourbonese Qualk and Michael O’Shea, whom it is revealed on this comp’s liner notes for the first time, was his bandmate, along with sculptor Alexander Sokolov, in short-lived trio The Healing Drums of Brixton.
We’re frankly floored by this new nugget of info and would kill to hear recordings of that trio, as we had already imagined links to O’Shea after first listen of ‘Space-Time Dreamtime’, whose free-flowing rhythmelodic meter and judicious use of FX on custom built kit, the Vambez stringdrum or drumgita (pronounced: drum guitar), patently recall an Afro-bluesier modal adjunct to the freedoms of O’Shea’s incredible improvisations.
Compiling material from Vambe’s pair of 1982 private pressings for his Drumony Records, ‘Drumgita Solo’ and ‘Drumland Dreamland’, the 20-track set comprehensively plunges us into Vambe’s attempts to access an imagined fourth dimension according to his own form of string theory. Entwined with FX and layered in overdubs and improvised piano by Brazilian Rafael Dos Santos, Vambe’s music runs ravishingly free with the spirit of an autodidact finely attuned to their own vision. In that sense Vambe’s approach is comparable to the likes of Moondog’s modal street blues, Harry Partch’s musical weltanschauung, Julius Eastman’s ceaseless drive or the fluid buzz of Nana Vasconcelos’ berimbau, but aesthetically, umbilically indebted to his African heritage.
Clearly that lack of training in the field was no impediment to Vambe’s urge to express themselves, resulting in hypnotic, shifting patterns on the course from his Afro-Latin classical sway in ‘Drumming (One)’, to deeply furrowed vibing on ‘Drumgita’, spellbinding reversed loops on ‘(One) Boogie Going Home’ and ‘Ydolemurd’ and pure percussive ecstasies in ‘hum Drum Dring (Two) (The Freedom Song)’.