Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit


Alexander Tucker – Dorwytch
08 April 2011, 16:00 Written by

Alexander Tucker‘s music is not so much rooted in the past as rooted, somehow, outside of any familiar timescales. His musical journey – from his first outings in an early 1990s teenage hardcore outfit to today’s self-contained, pastoral English folk-meets-drone – has been a transformative one; and has left us with what might be one of the most interesting of current British outsider musicians.

Tucker generates his distinct sound by means of repetition, looping and layering, so what starts out as a simple riff becomes an almost percussive, dense pattern. Stringed instruments of assorted tones feature heavily throughout, whether intense and drone-like, as on ‘Hose’; busy and urgent (‘His Arm Has Grown Long’); or lighter of touch like in ‘Pearl Relics’ or the jaunty ‘Red String’ – one of a handful of tracks where the mood is leavened by the use of a chinking, chiming glockenspiel.

Tracks like ‘Red String’, ‘Pearl Relic’, ‘Skeletor Blues’ and ‘Sill’ have an air of the ancient, almost medieval about them that is both distinct and yet ephemeral and hard to pin down. Certainly the instrumentation contributes to this, but there is also something ill-defined and timeless about the words used. Tucker sings of “Towering figures, looming / Featureless face” and “dissolving landscapes” (‘Red String’); of “Organic matter growing instead of limbs” (‘Matter’); of bones which “lie bleaching on the sand” (‘Atomized’) and pre-historic creatures “watching the dawn of man approach” (‘Skeletor Blues’). ‘Matter’ also features the wonderful, almost alchemic, description of a trail “leaving your footprints glowing in liquid gold”. In fact, when a lyric actually references something as modern as trains – on ‘Red String”s “… appear to transport you by rail to the sea” – it comes as a surprise to be lifted out of the organic, natural, slightly sinister/foreboding world that has been so successfully evoked.

At its best, this imagery combines with the cumulative effect of the layering and Tucker’s distinctive (earnest-yet-slightly-distanced sounding) vocal to great effect. Tracks like ‘Matter’ and the cowboy-space-blues of ‘Atomized’ – hazy, wide-screen, dystopian – are among the standouts. On the terrific ‘Half Vast’, a more electronic sound is used to gradually built up a beautiful crescendo that resonates, shines, glows up to its peak that sounds celestial or even extra-terrestrial by the end. There are only a couple of tracks – ‘Hose’ and ‘God’s Creature’ –whose melancholy begins to drag and become oppressive to the ear.

Certainly ponderous in places, quite possibly a touch over-long too (some tracks are a little similar in tune and tone – ‘His Arm Has Grown Long’ and ‘Sill’ being one case in point) this is nevertheless an album of much beauty, gravity and wonderful, inventive musicianship. Alexander Tucker has managed, somehow, to weave together elements that have been in existence seemingly for hundreds of years yet make of them something that sounds fresh, original and inspired. The result is as an album that is as impressive as it is arresting.


Share article

Get the Best Fit take on the week in music direct to your inbox every Friday

Read next