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Alexander Tucker

Portal

(ATP; US: 1 Jul 2008; UK: 9 Jul 2008)

Initially, Portal has a mysterious organic quality oddly similar to the oblique sections of Wishbone Ash’s Argus. Tucker has obvious production talent, a plaintive voice (in small doses) and an appreciation of drone. He creates blissed-out and abrasive instrumental passages from shifting layers of guitar, loops, and strings. The opening tracks, “Poltergeists Grazing” and “Veins to the Sky” are clever and uplifting. Indeed, so are any two other tracks from Portal. Trouble is, by redoing a couple of ideas over the course of 8 pieces, Tucker ends up with a work lacking variety, shade, and dynamic contrast; something like the Beta Band at their most tedious. Long before the end I was praying that the next song would not rehash an earlier theme. 


Too much repetition renders the vocals predictable as well. The instrumental “Energy for Dead Plants” with its bleaker feel comes as a welcome break. The promo blurb warns of the dangers of tenuous comparisons to other artists and then proceeds to make ludicrous over-reaching claims that don’t deserve repeating. Tucker has worked with Stephen O’Malley of SunnO)), and with Jackie-O Motherfucker. Portal has positives but ultimately it is a frustratingly narrow solo work.

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