Duke Garwood, man. There’s something about that chap. I first heard of him back in 2010 when he supported Mark Lanegan at Glasgow’s Oran Mor. While it was difficult to make out what he was singing, his tunes were hypnotic. The Sand That Falls is his third album and, aside from the magnificent Black Pudding with Mark Lanegan, it’s the only album of his I own at this point in time (shame on me!).
It’s not an easy listen. It’s stark, but there’s a great deal of the ol’ Delta Blues about it. May I Rumble being a polite introduction of sorts. The guitar buzzes away. Rumbling. And so is he. The album builds on this. Eerie and earthy. Occupying the same space and as Tom Waits’ Bone Machine. Not that I’m comparing Garwood here to Tom Waits. I mean. Though I understand that I just did (hey, if it results in intrigue then it’s a good thing, right?). But I got the very same feeling when I listened to The Sand That Falls for the first time. It’s a canvas splashed with every colour in the grey scale. With a little bit of dark (dark) red. The almost black kind (somewhere around the #7B1706).
Strangely for a record this stark there’s a fairly magnificent groove. In fact, it’s the very same type of groove that’s in that famous bar scene in Fire Walk With Me. You know the one. Mellow Trucker Lady or Reap The Many Fruits could quite easily replace that grinding music. As side A comes to a close the Waits vibe remains, but slowly it gets a bit more sparse and random. Brilliant, though. It’s like Twin Peaks set in a transitional ol’ West.
Side Two kicks off with The Horror. There’s something unsettling about it. Again it has something of the Delta Blues. Only this time there’s a whole bunch of drunkeness (Ho Diddi). Garwood mumbles / sings during the Horror that “the horror in the Horror is that the story never ends” and he wasn’t kidding. It just so happens that it doesn’t end. We’re shot from one horror to the next! Not the slasher kind, but these tense capers. Something like Don’t Look Now or Rosemary’s Baby. In fact, the song Deep In The Outside is utterly terrifying. I think of Rob Zombie’s Lords of Salem. You know when they play the record by the Lords? Well, this is what I think of. Duke is the Lords. The song itself is all tribal and a complete opposite of Side A’s transitional ol’ West.
The title track (The Sand That Falls) brings the curtain down perfectly. A pretty incredible and suiting closer.
… and you know what, the record is almost seamless. The sound filling every bit of silence and moving every particle of dust in this old home (wait up! I didn’t mention that part did I? The album was recorded in an abandoned house).