Duke Garwood – Dreamboatsafari – CD


Master bluesmen are thin on the ground in South London, a landscape unsuited to the trappings and clichés of the genre. But it is down there, amidst the grey arterial routes, Victorian terraces and leafy parks that Duke Garwood makes his home. Garwood’s Dreamboatsafari sees him expanding on the spacious, dusty room blues found on previous albums Emerald Palace and The Sand That Falls. The genesis of this LP came when Garwood was on tour with Mark Lanegan – surely his spiritual cousin across the Atlantic waters. He had an inkling to release a “space cowboy record”, and this was realised at home recording sessions, with long-time collaborator Paul May on drums.

Dreamboatsafari is a record with many moods, different textures in which to disappear and reflect. Garwood’s picking and quiet vocal murmurs act in a dialogue with an ever-expanding palette of sounds. Gengis is imbued with an air of quiet menace, Garwood’s vocal resembling that of Swans’ Michael Gira over hollow knocks, piano and drones. Tapestry On Mars, meanwhile, takes Garwood far into outer reaches of jazz… yet in between, the warm guitar of Summer Gold makes for perhaps the most affecting pop song that Garwood has yet written. Rank Panache adds funk, Taras Bulbous rhythms and pipes that start to explore the world beyond London, beyond the blues.

It offers a glimpse of what is yet to come. With a joint LP with Mark Lanegan due April 16th, along with his work with the Master Musicians of Joujouka in Morrocco, Duke Garwood once again proves himself to be one of Britain’s boldest musical adventurers, taking this most traditional form somewhere entirely new.

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