A connection sparked 10 years ago in a tiny Utrecht club has flickered into a cross-country collaboration and a disarming debut from Lambert And Dekker.
That the pair never set foot in the same studio but wrote We Share Phenomena via iPhone messages belies the beguiling atmospherics and bold tones that drift from the speakers. Berlin-based Lambert, a mask-wearing pianist at the fore of the neo-classical movement, and singer Brookln Dekker, one-half of acclaimed Anglo-American outfit Rue Royale, describe themselves as a ‘ghost’ duo who have fleshed into something beyond the sum of their parts.
“I met Brookln in 2008 in a little venue in Utrecht,” says Lambert. “I was living in Amsterdam and took the half-hour drive to support Rue Royale at a place that wasn’t much bigger than my kitchen. When Rue Royale started playing I was overwhelmed.”
Brookln chips in: “It was our first continental tour and I wrecked our rental car on a bollard by the venue so it wasn’t starting well. Lambert was checking his sound. This guy was good! It was a bizarre but charming performance and I was entangled.”
Despite bumping into each other several times on the road, their next meaningful connection didn’t come until 2016 when Nottingham-based Brookln went to a Lambert gig at a church in nearby Leicester.
“We had a few drinks after the show and I asked ‘why don’t we make music together?’,”recalls Brookln. A few weeks later an mp3 arrived in an email from Lambert. “I was so moved that i started writing the lyrics: ‘Lay me down/Open me up/What you don’t like/You’re free to cut’ (from ‘You’re Free To Cut’),” Brookln says. “We wrote 6 songs in as many days.”
Battling a bout of depression, Brookln paused the process before Lambert reached out again 18 months later. “Then it didn’t take us much more than 2 weeks to finish it,” says Lambert. “I was sitting in my studio in Berlin producing the music and writing the piano parts while Brookln was in Nottingham making beautiful songs out of it. We didn’t spend a single day in the same studio or even speak on the phone. We just kept hitting ‘forward’. The record was mastered and picked up by a label before we saw each other again. It felt like working with a ghost!”
We Share Phenomena is an effortless, under-the-skin alliance that forges Lambert’s classical, at times jazzy, piano and Brookln’s soul-filled melodies with subtle rhythm glitches and string echoes.
“The songs are not about us per se, rather snapshots of lives lived, wrestling with the known and unknowns of life and its phenomena; those things we all share,” explains Brookln,
The two have become more than kindred spirits through making the 12-song album, says Lambert. “Two days ago I met Brookln for the first time since 2016 and we had a drink together. I realised he is not a ghost after all - but a friend.”