… out 5th March 2007
Fresh from collecting The South Bank/Times Breakthrough Award with his other band Archie Bronson Outfit at a star packed Savoy, beating Connie (A Problem Like Maria) and Simon Amstell (Popworld/Never Mind The Buzzcocks) amongst others, Duke Garwood is to release his new album ‘Emerald Palace’ on 5 March 2007.
Duke Garwood was born in London, south of the river, some time last century. From the moment they cut the umbilical chord, he was different. He started playing guitar at the age of 2 and by 10 hed mastered the piano, harmonica and clarinet too. All he listened to was the blues and classical records.
They were the only records my mother had, he whispers. There was a lot of John Lee Hooker and Big Bill Broonzy. I didnt listen to rocknroll music.
Struck down by a mystery illness, Garwood doesnt remember the years 13 to 17, but by the time he was in his early 20s, he was wandering.
I disappeared to Asia, he explains. I played guitar in the same bar, every night from 10 until 3. After a while, the whole place went rotten. Murders were happening every weekend, and I had to get away. I was saved by two ladies, who kindly took me to Paris and bought me a new guitar. When I ran out of luck there, I came back to London¦
Back in the capital, Garwood formed a free jazz trio that was a success until the bassist lost his mind. Recently, hes been a sideman with a group called The Archie Bronson Outfit, playing clarinet both live and on record.
At the same time, though, hes been refining his own songwriting and guitar playing, developing it to a point where his maverick, rapid, crab-like style has to be seen to be believed.
Ive got particular fingers, he laughs. I like to keep the sound going. I like my notes to keep ringing, for as long as I can keep them ringing. I learnt that from playing the horn. I want to get my feeling out.
The songs themselves are from the classic Delta tradition, offering an experimental country blues sound previously pioneered by the likes of Charley Patton, Skip James and Mississippi John Hurt.
There are also nods to more contemporary sources: the eccentricity of Devendra Banhart and the intricate beauty of acts like Six Organs Of Admittance is definitely present, while Garwoods voice (a thick black tarry bass sound) recalls Mark Lanegan at his most desperate. The themes are classic blues themes too – longing, betrayal and the need to move on.
Theyre about being alive, he says simply of his songs, but also about realising that youre a man and you need things. I want my songs to make people feel like they could weep or laugh or just run out of the door.
Following the release of Sweet Back his first, critically-acclaimed single on Loog, earlier this year, he now follows up with the arrival of his astonishing debut album, Holy Week. Titled because it was recorded in the week of 04/04/04 in a south London crypt, its a disturbing, experimental and beautiful collection of songs that frequently sound like they were recorded at the turn of the 20th Century.
These are songs that Ive whittled at over time, explains Duke. Theyve been stripped further and further back. Everything unnecessary has been taken out. Theyre skeletons rattling around your CD player¦
You have been warned. Duke Garwood is not an artist to be taken lightly.
Duke Garwoods first paid musical job was back in the late 8os playing guitar on The Orbs seminal Perpetual Dawn taken from their debut album co-produced by Youth. Nearly twenty years and many musical wanderings later Duke Garwood is about to release an album on Youths new label Butterfly Recordings. You could say that some sort of cycle is completed.After spending two decades honing his musical style, delivery and stage craft, Garwoods 1st album Holy Week came out to great critical acclaim last year. Q magazine described it as making Will Oldham sound like Engelbert Humperdinck! His follow up, Emerald Palace sees him define his own unique blend of blues, psychedelia, folk and avant-garde rhythms to even greater effect.It was recorded in a log cabin on the wooded slopes of Box Hill over 2 scorching days and nights in the mid-summer of 2005. Garwood and his long time drummer/percussionist-Paul May laid down some 40 tracks with the help of Simon Tong (The Verve, The Good The Bad and the Queen) on the controls. Eighteen were finally chosen for this release.
Duke Garwood: Emerald Palace
Release Date: 5th March 2007
Cat NO: BRCD2
Label: Butterfly Recordings
Distribution: ADA Warners
BUTTERFLY RECORDINGS release their first album, showcasing the label ‘WHAT THE FOLK’ (Butterfly Acoustic Recordings Vol.1). On sale from 12 Feb 2007.