Alexander Tucker – Third Mouth

Tucker’s voice is the key throughout the record; it’s often pitched fairly high and the notes are held as long as possible as if to create a sort of monkish drone, a plainchant that also doubles as a sort of “troubadour’s lament” when needed.

 

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Possibly the best psychedelic folk rock LP of the year but then Alexander Tucker’s work has always been of the highest quality, and he’s obviously very mindful and respectful of what’s gone before in this field; certainly of the “golden age” of the late 60s. The scene is set by the opener A Dried Seahorse - a reflection par excellence, Tucker’s voice swooping and gliding over a mournful, ever so slightly bucolic string accompaniment. The track – and the following number, The Glass Axe - has that wistful feel that Van der Graaf Generator’s early stuff had to it.

Tucker’s voice is the key throughout the record; it’s often pitched fairly high and the notes are held as long as possible as if to create a sort of monkish drone, a plainchant that also doubles as a sort of “troubadour’s lament” when needed. This doubles with the extremely sparse (but varied) instrumentation, which adds and intelligent counterpoint to the vocal melody lines. Overall this does two things: firstly the record has an incredibly old feel to it in terms of its outlook, sounding more like a ritual “battle” of gleemen in an early Saxon mead hall than a folk rock disc . However the big spaces and simple melodies in the record means the music also feels very fresh and means you can spin it over and over again (you should try it can put you in a trippy state).

And despite the obvious similarities with the likes of Wyatt/Barrett/Hammill/Heron/Allen et al, you never feel the weight of their influence; this folk-psychedelia feels fresh and up to date: the loops at the end of Mullioned View and Window Sill and the marvellous, Syd-tastic Sitting In a Bardo Pond, or indeed all of the Gong-like Amon Hen don’t feel like tribute pieces. As with his other work, the subjects are Gnomic in the extreme – it’s a personal world we’re peering into and stuff is to be guessed at rather than defined– Mullioned View and Window Sill conjure up images of our poet sitting and reflecting, almost like one of those Pre-Raphaelite “morals paintings”, whereas Amon Hen and Andromeon hint at more arcane concerns. The last track Rh could be about anything; I can tell you that it is a sort of bedroom lament – mixing basic synth noises handclaps and a doleful melody. It sounds very sad and doubtless the subject matter matches the sound.

Well how to sum up? For one, the whole thing’s over far too quick, and you might miss a lot at first listen, but keep at it as time and attention is needed for Third Mouth, because this is a very fine work.