Alexander Tucker – Third Mouth (Thrill Jockey)
By Princess Stomper
Don’t be silly, of course you didn’t think that Alexander Tucker could put out an album a year after Dorwytch and expect it to be as good – it doesn’t work like that. You have a lifetime to work on your first album and a year to work on your second. (This is his sixth.)
It says something that I bought Third Mouth today on iTunes: I’d have picked up a £1 voucher if I’d waited a day to buy it from Amazon, but I couldn’t wait 24 hours. I couldn’t live without it for one day.
It’s a shifty little bugger, Third Mouth. You can’t pin it down exactly, like those aliens in Doctor Who that you can only see from the corner of your eye. So you play it again and again, but as the melody starts for the umpteenth time it drifts off to some intangible realm: you almost forget you’re listening to it. That’s weird, because they’re not forgettable songs, but listening to Third Mouth is like being wrapped in clouds and curling up on a blanket of soft grass. Then – BAM! – you’re jolted back by some unexpected twist. Electronics or fierce drone rock or other shenanigans. Alexander Tucker doesn’t make that sort of music, but he makes it very well. ‘Amon Hen’ juts out like an obsidian spire, its spiky angles casting serrated shadows. Frances Morgan’s haunting harmonies on ‘Mullioned View’ … I had something to go with that, but that’s all I need.
Third Mouth is achingly, tinglingly beautiful. Think of folk and you’ll think of knitwear and frump, but here you can smell the moss and soil. Lazy critics search on Wikipedia for descriptions, but I find myself looking up “fairy ring”. Dangerous places, apparently, and I think that’s where I’m being taken. This is The Wicker Man without Christopher Lee’s stupid wig. Primal, ancient, vast and ageless. Warm, rich, vibrant and sensual. Scratchy acoustic guitars, percussive tinkles, drones of cello, discordant saxophone and multi-part harmonies.
Third Mouth is certainly more varied than the last one, but it weaves the same quiet spell. You couldn’t think that Alexander Tucker would put out an album a year after Dorwytch and expect it to be as good.
No. This is better.