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Duke Garwood - Dreamboatsafari

  by Andrew Carver

published: 19 / 2 / 2011

Duke Garwood - Dreamboatsafari
Label: Fire Records
Format: CD


Eccentric, but appealing latest album from London-based bluesman, Duke Garwood

Duke Garwood is a London-based bluesman with an exploratory mind. While the ghosts of country bluesman can be heard in the tremeloed licks of songs like ‘Jesus Got a Gun’, the scattershot percussion and off-kilter rhythm also share a spiritual cousin in performers like the No Neck Blues Band and lo-fi progenitors like Royal Trux (at least in their early days), as well as the desert blues of groups like Tinariwen. Garwood seems to be heading to a prettier place than his earlier work, with the cooing vocals on ‘Gods in My Shoes’ lending the song a dreamy air like something Devendra Banhart might have put on one of his earlier albums. By comparison the sombre, almost-chanting vocals on ‘Panther’ go back to an earlier primal boogie of the sort essayed by Dr. John on ‘The Night-Tripper’. Credit has to go Paul May, Garwood’s long-serving drumming foil, whose percussion sets an unassuming but deliberate pace. The canned beats and coruscating beats of ‘Gold Watch’ set a different mood, with the sound of tape manipulation and a canned vocal making a strange juxtaposition with Garwood’s bluesy guitar. His vocals slink back into the background for ‘Space Trucker Lady’ a tune whose mellow tone doesn’t seem to do the subject matter justice. Garwood keeps to the same low croon for ‘Summer Gold’, but with a bit more oomph in both guitars and percussion as he sings of doing whatever time is necessary if his woman turns him in. The caterwauling saxophone and spookhouse organ of ‘Tapestry of Mars’ moves things in both a more energetic and stranger direction - it’s an exercise in noise that wouldn’t be out of place on an early Royal Trux album. It cuts away soon after the electric guitar makes it entrance - the album is full of sudden stops as Garwoood is apparently struck with an urge to end a song. ‘Flames of Gold’ walks the listener through a stuporous recollection of dancing until it draws blood. Like ‘Tapestry of Mars’, ‘Rank Panache’ takes a more active turn away from the blues into a sort of denaturized funk, sliding neatly into the even more chaotic ‘Taras Bulbous’. An Eastern melody and an accompanying drone accompanies a deadpan vocal about ‘cooking with grease’ that would likely have attained a more lascivious air in the hands of an earlier blues practitioner. Music lovers who like their blues twisted and turned should find at least a few intriguing sounds in ‘Dreamboatsafari’, while those who don’t like what is sometimes called ‘outsider music’ should find some lazy, hazy tracks to enjoy.

Track Listing:-
1 Jesus Got A Gun
2 Gods In My Shoes
3 Panther
4 Gold Watch
5 Space Trucker Lady
6 Summer Gold
7 Wine Blood
8 Gengis
9 Tapestry Of Mars
10 Flames Of Gold
11 Rank Panache
12 Taras Bulbous
13 Larry

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