One of my favourite albums this year was the Western Skies Motel album on Lost Tribe Sound and it looks like the label have unearthed another winner in this second album by UK based guitar picker Andy Cartwright aka Seabuckthorn. The album has a darker hue though and is characterised by the use of 12 stringed guitars giving the music a full and rolling feel which straddles various strands of guitar composition.
Dead West Tape Series cassette on Lost Tribe Sound. Edition of 100 hand-numbered copies.
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Guitarist Andy Cartwright writes dockside strummers so propulsive that I get put straight into the mood for a boating side-quest when I listen to them. He echoes both the poppier patterns of Jose Gonzalez and a primitivism that takes form in the likes of Six Organs of Admittance, but makes it all more cinematic, as if taking guitar ideas and giving them a blockbuster stat upgrade.
As a follow-up to the seriously epic ‘They Haunted Most Thickly’, this tape serves as a wonderful supplement, with opener “I Could See the Smoke” simply carrying on with the same stormed landscape through an aggressive approach to a gorgeously plaintive guitar arrangement. “Seen As A Black Road” accents minimally by layering guitars and processing to suggest faraway rumblings in the very same oceanic landscape, the dynamics capturing that calm before the storm where everything is fine, but also frightening. If ever breath could be taken, it’s in this kind of juxtaposition.
Percussion comes to the fore and is used in such a way that we get to hear Cartwright meditating: there’s no forward momentum on “The Good River”, whose combination of sharp, suspended strings and yawning drum brings to mind a microcosmic version of Tony Conrad. “Overgrown Courtyard” matches nimble Americana and humming string-bends with sharp, droning rings of the frets, creating that same feeling of waiting in the unknown. Pulsating patience, I’d call it, and that’s what I love about this EP. Thank you for the tension.
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