Alexander Tucker

Don't Look Away

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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). Don't Look Away immediately sounds closer to Grumbling Fur's poppier aspects than Tucker's prior solo albums -- there are drum machines and synths (which still manage to sound warm and organic), and the melodies are much catchier and more stirring than before. The wistful folk-pop of "Visiting Again" and the vaguely cosmic "Ghost on the Ledge" are two particular highlights. While Don't Look Away is undeniably more focused than his past works, Tucker still finds beauty in imperfections, and continues to assemble his samples off-grid. Moments like the wobbling echo to the drum machine at the end of "Objects" or the slightly detached feel to "Yesterday's Honey" point to where things start to slide off the rails, but it never sounds sloppy or disorganized. There are also some more overtly experimental tracks, but even these fit into the flow of the album rather than disrupt it. Apart from a handful of brief instrumentals, there's "Gloops Void (Give It Up)," a dark, misty beat/drone collage filled with floating delay effects and filtered vocals from Factory Floor's Nik Void. Ending the album is "ISHUONAWAYISHANAWA," which repeats its nonsensical mantra over a lush acoustic guitar rhythm and cascades of billowing flutes, which gradually become intertwined with the increasingly twisted vocals. Maintaining a healthy balance of sunshine and rain, Don't Look Away is the best example yet of Tucker's singular approach to music.

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