“Um, he’s sort of… doom folk…”
Thus went the exchange between Former Housemate and Prominent Local Musician prior to the first time I saw ALEXANDER TUCKER play live. That was in 2007, the year before his beautiful, bewitching third album proper Portal and a tour with Fuck Buttons that saw him play Clwb on Valentine’s night to a crowd of grinning singletons and slightly tense couples. Former Housemate’s summation was pretty accurate, in fairness; Tucker’s work to date had sprung from a preoccupation with tape loops, fx pedals and decaying, manipulated improvised drones, dank and mossy of texture and dark of mood. The finger-picking, tinkling percussion and soaring, glassy vocals that emerged through the murk, on Portal in particular, were complemented by doomy riffs and cheese-wire string loops, the influences of extra-curricular collaborators like Stephen O’Malley and Mothlite knotting with Tucker’s own to create a gorgeous hybrid of freak-folk haze, Six Organs psych picking, Acid Mothers wig-out and Hood’s downbeat, melancholic beauty.
This tour accompanies Dorwytch, Tucker’s first album proper since 2007, though he’s found time for a mini-LP as Decomposed Orchestra, myriad collaborations and a side-project (Imbogodom) whose excellent full-length of ambient disquiet was another cracker. This time the string arrangements are to the fore, there’s unobtrusive, effective drumming for the first time, and the songs are stronger than ever. Previously a solo live performer, it’s pretty exciting to imagine how he’s going to interpret this live. Don’t miss it.
RATATOSK is so blatantly right a support that it’s almost head-slappingly obvious, but it’s still kind of thrilling to see promoters outside Cardiff cottoning on to one of our best-kept secrets. Rhodri works from a similar palette to Alexander Tucker, but with more of a tip to the audience perhaps; where you’re plunged into the latter’s swirling epics wholesale there’s a stately, considered build-up of the core elements to a Ratatosk song that renders their fabulously emotive crescendos even more effective. Two great companion albums down this year, with a third promised, it’s a treat to see him at work. Also appearing here is SKJøLBROT, aka Dan Graham. A Bristol native, Graham builds incredibly intense walls of drone, piano, field recording and bracing, disorienting electronic noise, alternately subtle and chillingly abrasive. Sounds like a handy enough way to sum up a night that ought to be scrawled right at the top of your to-do list this weekend.
Alexander Tucker + SkjøLbrot + Ratatosk
Sat 11th June / 8pm / £6 adv
English folk outsider Alexander Tucker is a songwriter with a difference. His deconstructed folk songs are a mesmerising blend of delicate string
arrangements, electronic manipulations and haunting, lonesome vocals. A talented multi-instrumentalist, Tucker layers guitar, cello and mandolin to create eerie, woodland soundscapes, and a huge orchestral sound.
“symphonic textures and miasmic chord changes that will grab your attention…a hybrid between ancient sounds and the psychedelic capacities of one man.” – Pitchfork
“his guitar work hints at everything from Led Zeppelin’s most stately to My Bloody Valentine’s most cryptic, no bad place to be.” – Plan B
Tucker’s recorded material has been released to critical acclaim, including three albums for ATP Recordings, and one soon to be released on Thrill Jockey. He has also branched out into other projects, including the avant-rock of Ginnungagap (with Stephen O’Malley of SunnO)))/Khanate etc) and the tape loop experiments of Imbogodom.
Support tonight comes Skjølbrot, aka Hunting Lodge’s Dan Bennett, with his beautiful collection of sound collages, combining electro-acoustic techniques with field recordings and electronics, plus the immense talents of Cardiff based musician Ratatosk providing minimal, ambient folk songs.