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British experimental musician Alexander Tucker releases his Thrill Jockey debut Dorwytch in April 2011. This record breaks new ground for Tucker by combining minimalist string arrangements with electronic manipulations and drones to produce doom chamber-pop songs and psychedelic music-concrete collages.
Tucker’s sound has developed over the years since his first self-titled solo album, which featured acoustic finger-picking, experimental electronics and was released on Jackie O Motherfucker’s U-Sound Archives label. He went on to combine compositional song structures, drones, layered vocals and improvisations on his 2005 album Old Fog released on ATP Recordings. This collection of spectral moods, eerie landscapes and fragile emotions was followed by Furrowed Brow (2006) and Portal (2008), where the songs and melodies became more pronounced, whilst infecting the tracks with underlying drone currents, traditional finger-picking, doom riffs and David Crosby inspired harmonies.
Three years in the making Dorwytch finds Tucker refining his song craft and introducing minimalist string movements that build into dense spiraling riffs around his distinct vocals. With varied sounds and grandiose ideas, the album marries the abstract with more traditional song structures, using layering techniques to create the illusion of an ensemble. This album is the first time Tucker has used drums, collaborating with free improv drummer Paul May to create rhythmic improvised beats. Other guests include brooding blues songwriter Duke Garwood (Fire Records), singer-songwriter Jess Bryant and multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Daniel O’Sullivan (Guapo, Aethanor, Miracles, Ulver).
The album’s themes run the gamut from abstract tales of the everyday, to the supernatural, to other-worldly experiences. Influenced heavily by the work of Alan Moore, songs such as “Matter” reference this directly with themes of metaphysical human/plant matter transcendence inspired by the comic Swamp Thing. Tucker is also fascinated by strange creatures conjured up in tracks such as “Half Vast” where he loops synth pulses to create blissed sonic atmospheres where organic spaceships give birth to plasmatic babies. Or pieces like “Skelator Blues” with chiming guitars and haunted vocals giving birth to skeletal beings who stalk the earth. There are some more mundane themes at work in songs such as “Mildew Stars” (the only one with traditional tunings) about childhood coastal holidays and his dad’s collections of musty old books, prints and found precious things.
In addition to being a solo artist Tucker continues to collaborate with Daniel Beban in their tape loop project Imbogodom (also on Thrill Jockey). Other bands include Grumbling Fur with members of Guapo and Circle. Past collaborative projects include duets with Stephen O’Malley on his Ginnungagap side project. Tucker is also a visual artist, creating artwork for all of his album covers and side projects, including ongoing paintings drawings, and comic artwork.
Dorwytch is a beautiful collection of songs, which show Alexander Tucker at the height of his creative talents. He is capable of creating immense sounds on such a grand scale that it is astounding to realize that it is (mostly) all the work of just one man. This album will beguile and entice the listener, placing Tucker at the forefront of the experimental pop landscape.