Release Date: Aug 24, 2018
Record label: Thrill Jockey
Don't Look Away completes a trilogy of solo albums from experimental singer/songwriter Alexander Tucker which began with 2011's Dorwytch and continued with Third Mouth the following year. These albums marked a shift from the enigmatic artist's earlier style, which was far more abstract and freely flowing, to more traditional forms of songwriting. Since those two albums, Tucker has devoted much of his time to Grumbling Fur, a project with Daniel O'Sullivan which has explored Eno-esque avant-pop in addition to heady minimalism (as Grumbling Fur Time Machine Orchestra).
Grumbling Fur have often gotten themselves into enriching collaborations with a range of other artists, including This Heat 's Charles Bullen and Bardo Pond 's Isobel Sollenberger on Furfour, their most recent album. This journey, however, is one that Tucker takes largely on his own, save for a few contributions such as Factory Floor 's Nik Void lending vocals to "Gloops Void (Give It Up)", and Fur-mate Daniel O'Sullivan contributing viola to "Visiting Again" and supplementary vocals to "Behind the Shoulder", as well as sharing the album's mixing duties. This does not leave Tucker sounding isolated or vulnerable (and that's not just down to the multi-tracking of his vocals and zooming in on the guitar and keys), but freely moving, calmly unguarded, campfire warm.
Alexander Tucker's Don't Look Away is the third in a folk-experimental trilogy that started with 2011's Dorwytch and continued through Third Mouth in 2012, all three of the albums softly surreal concoctions of swirling drone and acoustic picking, which harked back to a past not so much mythical as imagined. Six years ago, at Dusted, I called Third Mouth "arrestingly pretty, with its delicate guitars and looming, swelling synth notes, but also unfathomable," and the same applies to Don't Look Away. These are lush, dewy gardens of sound, just a tad too bright and fanciful to be real, as if someone had twisted the color knobs up to vibrate.