Colin Lloyd-Tucker ‎– Still Calm Melancholy Air Brush Hush

Samphire Records ‎– sam011
CDr, Album


1 Still 5:40
2 Calm 8:04
3 Melancholy 5:54
4 Air 8:17
5 Brush 7:40
6 Hush 8:43


Recorded January - March 2012
Recorded and mixed at Samphire Sound Studio
creators of Vibrasonic Stereo Sound
Additional recording - Jazz Workshop, UK


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November 30, 2013

Still Calm Melancholy Air Brush Hush
Monastic mutterings, bursting lungs, sterile places, animal hair and space cadets …
must be a new Colin Lloyd Tucker album
Colin Lloyd Tucker’s work in the electronic music field is well documented.
From his début album Toybox (1982) with all it’s analogue trickery and his early work with Matt Johnson in
The Gadgets (1981-3) that continued a quirky, minimalist approach through to the ethereal, pastoral beauty of his
Deux Fille project with Simon Turner (1986) and the huge soundscapes to be found on the Skyscraping album
with Paddy Bush (1995).
The formation of his own Samphire record label in 2006 saw the release of Fear Of Flying, a sprawling and
diverse collection that mixed his sonic adventures with more traditional elements, a pattern that was to continue
on the follow up The Desire Path, although the latter was perhaps more focused and contained less purely
electronic material.
2011’s excellent Inner Nutshell once again drew on all his experience in both electronic and traditional music
making to great effect.
This year CLT offers Still Calm Melancholy Air Brush Hush.
Here we have six new pieces of music with the emphasis firmly on atmosphere, although not at the expense of
melody and song craft.
CLT presents his songs in a painterly fashion; a vast canvas allows the music to breath. Instrumental sections are
allowed to grow organically (all the tracks are long) and there is a compelling sense of ‘performance’ in his vocal
approach. You get the feeling that these are live voice recordings with little or no studio editing. Indeed, on the
second half of this album his voice appears stripped of all studio sweetening such as reverb bringing a warmth
and humanity to the ‘machine’ music.
Don’t get me wrong, this is no ‘plinky plonky’ Kraftwerk affair, nor is it the ‘dustbin lid slamming’ of the
musical industrialists. At times it is closer to Brian Eno’s melodic approach and of course, Deux Filles, both of
whom used guitars and pianos, although rarely left them untreated.
A mantle clock on a lazy afternoon
The shortest track here is the opener Still. A treated piano chimes strident chords, each chime allowed to decay
into silence. There is the metronomic tick of percussion, like a mantle clock on a lazy afternoon. Monastical
voices join the piano in chiming out “Still…Still…” and later “Still yearning, still wanting, still waiting….” The
feeling is of someone resigned to frustration, void of hope yet accepting of the situation.
Next, as if in reply to this dilemma comes Calm.
Calm begins with true ‘ambient music’. The silences are deafening. Gentle droplets of sound kiss the listener
before the full embrace of warm organ and steady drums signals the start of the vocal section of the song. “Stay
calm and carry on” urges Colin as much to himself as to the listener. The voice, bathed in echo soars and seems
to search for impossible notes “The pressure is on, still it increases, Try to stay calm... don’t go to pieces….” The
word ‘pieces’ turns into a shout as it is held for a lung bursting length, leaving us in no doubt that we are dealing
with a tormented soul barley in control of his emotions.
Melancholy is the only track here that does not include an extended scene-setting introduction, crashing straight
in with a slow funk of drums, percussion and bass. Strange keyboard sounds whistle and whirl while Colin croons
and croaks, his voice sounding like it is coming from a nineteen forties radio. In fact take away the backing and
replace with a big band and this song could well have come from that era. Maggi Ronson’s multi-tracked bridge
vocals add to that feeling. The albums lyrical theme continues “Unobtainable dream…like fishing for the watermoon…”
and again you wonder if Colin is addressing himself when he sings “What am I to do…with melancholy
Unusual, even by his own kaleidoscopic standards
A musical wind heralds the start of Air and builds into a foreboding sea of sounds including massed deep voices.
Like the dark sky before a storm…but no, the clouds part and the sound of an early drum machine, like the one
used on Toxbox provides a light rhythm. We are coming into the light after the darkness of the proceeding
Brian Neil’s Spanish guitar spins and twirls as if caught on the breeze, its playfulness exaggerated by the
occasional Doppler effect that sends its pitch and time spinning, but never out of control. “Are you still
breathing…?” We are coming round with the aid of fresh air. “Spreading your legs in the open air…open wide”
teases the voice and then reassures “Try not to be afraid…blow me away I’m only air”
As you will have gathered by now this album makes no attempt at being radio-friendly. It’s funereal pace
combined with the songs length and construction would cause most programme planners to run a mile, but you
wouldn’t expect CLT to be bothered by such matters.
That said, Brush is unusual even by his own kaleidoscopic standards. It places the listener in a sterile place,
impossibly clean and white. A blank canvas or an empty gallery. When the rhythm finally emerges it is strange
and hesitant. Like an artists first strokes.
CLT sings/speaks a list of animals including horse, badger, sable etc. before asking if he can borrow some of their
hair in order to make a brush. This he intends to use to paint a portrait of them all.
The addition of bowed electric guitars adds a merry-go-round feel to the proceedings resulting in a stunningly
unique yet extremely likeable piece of music.
Finally we come to Hush. This track stands tall and proud. A huge, thumping slab of music. “We love you” repeat
Ronson’s vocals at the start before being quietened by CLT’s rejoinder of “Hussshhhh”.
The songs protagonists are a family who live their lives on a spaceship on an infinite journey across space. The
children are ‘space cadets’ whose time is spent exploring dark stars and black holes much as their earthbound
counterparts might check out the woods. “’Near a dark star avoid strangers’ say the exoplanet rangers and be
back inside the capsule when Mama calls”. Full of space age bleeps and hums the mesmerising music builds and
the splashes of auto-harp will remind some of an earlier CLT space-song called UFO Report No.1. The refrain of
“We are space cadets, we love you…yes we do” is both funny and touching.
So, as the album closes with a space age lullaby I think about summing it all up for you in a nice concise ‘in a
nutshell’ kind of way...
Being ‘architectural’ in its nature and construction perhaps I should imagine the best possible environment for
this music. A party or wedding reception would be wildly inappropriate. No, best heard at home, maybe at the end
of a long day with or without relaxation aids or on a Sunday morning with the curtains still drawn.
Ethereal, timeless…beautiful.
The The’s Matt Johnson recently described CLT as a ‘monument of English music’ and after thirty five years of
innovative, challenging, and highly individual creations it is hard to argue. Never stale, his work is as fresh as a
daisy. Although we can morn his lack of commercial success it is perhaps that that we have to thank for his
boundless quest for new musical and sonic pastures, free from commercial considerations. How many musicians
have come and gone over those thirty five years?, so many enjoying a brief spell in the limelight before retreating
into middle-age and becoming bland versions of their younger selves.
Listening to Still Calm Melancholy Air Brush Hush one is constantly reminded of CLT’s musical journey to
date. The splashes of Toybox style psychedelia, the ambience of Deux Filles, the playful and sometimes very
dark lyrics are all here and yet somehow CLT has found yet another musical form in which to present his muse.
The fact that the album’s title is also its track-listing reinforces the notion that this is really just one continuous
piece of music, so close your eyes and enjoy.