Andrew's branching out here a bit, insofar as this is way heavier on the banjo and much lighter on the electronic elements. Pedal steel, soft brass, and those subtle electronics give it a sort of Lanois vibe, in the best possible way.
Andrew Tuttle grew up in Alexandra Hills, a quiet slice of rural life in Redlands, a city which lies 20km or so from Brisbane, on the East Coast of Australia. Or at least that was the plan. The reality proved to be somewhat different, the area changing quickly after his family's relocation there, resulting in his home being quickly absorbed by rapid urban sprawl, leaving him in a limbo between nature and suburbia.
Alexandra, Tuttle's fourth studio album, reflects the growth apparent in his three previous Room40 releases and commitment to developing a reputation in his home country of Australia in the time since his 2015 debut. Leaning upon the inspiration pulled from recent tour supports with contemporaries such as Steve Gunn, Ryley Walker and Calexico; Alexandra presents a true sonic landscape; a musical reflection of a rediscovered homeland. A magician of banjo and resonator guitar, Tuttle named the album after that Queensland street and suburb where he first created and fell in love with music. Alexandra is the sound of rediscovering one's environment, almost twenty years on, tracing it with an organic, expanding flow of energy.
The songs on Alexandra weave their way serenely and purposefully, tracing a gossamer path resembling the distinctive, scribble-like burrowing patterns left by moths on the scribbly gum trees which dot Tuttle's ambles through the Australian bushland backgrounding the suburban environment. Splashes of colour flutter through like rosellas in flight, with pedal steel, piano, strings and horns contributed by collaborators such as Chuck Johnson (Saariselka, VDSQ, Three Lobed, Scissor Tail), Tony Dupe (Saddleback), Sarah Spencer (Blank Realm), Gwenifer Raymond (Tompkins Square), Joel Saunders (Spirit Bunny) and Joe Saxby (These Guy).
As a child, Tuttle became obsessed with two things: cricket and playing guitar, however it was the latter of those two hobbies which eventually stuck, in spite of an initial indifference. Despite his eventual career path, that other childhood passion has stuck with him and there's nothing that Tuttle enjoys more than taking in a game of cricket at the Allan Border Field, a beautiful small ground about 3km from his house. "It's my happy place," he says, simply. "Absolutely picturesque, shaded grandstands and a grassy hill, great natural lighting. I think both music and cricket, in my mind, can be related on a linear level. Like how either a song or a cricket game can go for a short defined time or for an almost infinite time; with busy moments, reflective moments, meandering moments and resolution."
After finishing school around the turn of the century, Tuttle embraced a whole new world amid the DIY culture and venues of Brisbane, where issues with gentrification and noise complaints led to a lot of shows in alternative venues which boasted lineups that were often strikingly diverse and interesting. In late 2017, a fortuitous path of chance meetings, house-sitting and blissful spring days led Tuttle back to his childhood habitat, awakening an ardent awareness of place that was both intimately familiar and strangely new. This experience of psychogeography inspired Tuttle to delve into the soul of one little patch of the world.
Painting broad strokes of local colour amongst a deeply rooted spirit of place, Alexandra is a journey that tranquilises the restless mind. This expansive album cycles through a rediscovered environment, illuminating forgotten or overlooked landmarks, evoking the dreamy ritual of the "flâneur" (a romantic figure imagined by Charles Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin) who wanders the streets, with the sole purpose to wander.
The rambling road that led to Alexandra was paved with musical activities for Tuttle; he released his third, self-titled album on Someone Good/Room40 in 2018, toured with Steve Gunn, Calexico and Ryley Walker in Australia and Europe, and made a cameo performance with Matmos at Unsound Festival (from which the guitar tuning of Matmos's 'Sun On 5 At 152' provided the inspiration and a tip of the cap towards Alexandra's opener 'Sun at 5 in 4161'). Tuttle has previously toured with artists such as Julia Holter, Forest Swords, Daniel Bachman, Deradoorian, Blank Realm and HTRK.
Mixed by Chuck Johnson and mastered by Lawrence English (Room40), Alexandra was tracked externally at Brisbane's The Plutonium by engineer Aidan Hogg (Jaguar Jonze, Jeremy Neale, Hatchie), then edited and processed at Tuttle's studio in Brisbane and at his childhood home on Alexandra Circuit in Alexandra Hills.
released May 15, 2020
Written and edited by Andrew Tuttle at James Street and Alexandra Circuit, September 2018-April 2019
Engineered by Aidan Hogg at The Plutonium, January-March 2019
Mixed by Chuck Johnson at Cirrus Oxide, April 2019
Mastered by Lawrence English at 158, May 2019
Andrew Tuttle: banjo, resonator guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, signal processing
Chuck Johnson: pedal steel guitar (2, 6)
Gwenifer Raymond: microtonal electric guitar (1), fiddle (4)
Joe Saxby: saxophone (1)
Joel Saunders: trumpet (9)
Sarah Spencer: piano (1, 7)
Tony Dupe: cello (1, 9), piano (1, 7), pump organ (1, 7)
I'm not sure why I didn't listen to this sooner. I guess I thought "well obviously it'll be good, I'll come back later". Since buying I've listened twice in a day. This album is beautiful, both in a soothing relaxing way but more importantly in a heart-wrenching and painfully anguished way. Aidan
There's some heady Bard Pond psych, SYR series improv skronk, woozy MV & EE blooze — total Three Lobed-core, from the label that made these outer sounds a worthwhile personality trait to claim. Lars Gotrich