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Alex Rex announces new poetry/drone record

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In his review of the last Alex Rex studio album ‘Paradise‘, Thomas Blake described Neilson as one of the most distinctive and continuously excellent songwriters around, but also one of the most restless. He adds: “His working practice embraces contradiction. He wears his influences proudly, and yet he is an experimentalist at heart, always willing to push boundaries.” Adding weight to that statement is his new album ‘Mouthful Of Earth’, a record of poems that finds him returning to his experimental roots.

Due for release on July 1st via Neolithic Recordings, the poems on ‘Mouthful of Earth’ are described as cutting and oft heart-wrenching stanzas.

They are set to music largely from underground legends Alastair Galbraith, Richard Youngs and Alex’s cult experimental drone record Belsayer Time (originally released on Time Lag Records in 2006. This is the first time that this music has ever been made available digitally). And for one track, Alex reunites with ex-Trembling Bells mucker Lavinia Blackwall for some free-form experimental jazz, reminiscent of the more psychedelically unhinged moments of Cammell/Roeg’s Performance soundtrack.

To quote Stuart Maconie’s sleeve notes for the record, “One of the first things I learned about Alex’s musical imagination and modus operandi was a joy in collaboration, and Mouthful Of Earth continues in a tradition that has seen him work with many kindred spirits across many genres; Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Current 93, Jandek, Kan Mikami, Shirley Collins, Six Organs of Admittance, Josephine Foster and Baby Dee. The list is disparate and stellar, the results are always interesting and alive”.

Today sees the release of ‘Wastwater’, the first cut to be shared from the album. On the track, Alex says “Wastwater is a love letter written in light. It was inspired by the uncanny valleys of the Lake District. I heard the mountains singing it as one vast, orgasmic ‘YES’”.

Continuing in the spirit of collaboration, Mouthful of Earth’s words and music are accompanied by a book of drawings by Kent-based visual artist, musician and art psychotherapist, Benjamin Prosser (@benjaminprosser). These are not so much literal illustrations as reactions. The combination of poems and visuals works a suite of haunted vignettes, dense with bleak humour and hallucinatory images. “The phantom hand of a lover pressed over the mouth of your mother / the whole gurning universe / the collapsed farmhouse of my mouth”

Mouthful of Earth is both visceral and corporeal, flecked with blood, sweat and beers. Or as Alex puts it “a continuous project of describing the human spirit pushed to the point of crisis”. It finds beauty in scarring and peace in torment. It’s both an assault and a balm of sorts. Life, says Neilson “is not a golden arc / It’s a bent aerial / connected to a vast and terrible machine/operated by a child”. But listen hard and you will also hear beauty… “The song of yourself, roaring like a cloud, explicable only by light”.

With sleeve notes by BBC Radio presenter and author Stuart Maconie, Mouthful of Earth is released on limited edition vinyl (300 copies only) and digitally via Neolithic Recordings on July 1st. Those pre-ordering the record on Bandcamp will receive an exclusive download of Alex’s take on the Denise Riley poem The Problem With Suicide. Reminiscent of his early work with Trembling Bells, and again featuring Lavinia Blackwall on vox, the track is a red herring; a nod towards a lighter shade of darkness.

Pre-Order here:

Tour dates

14th April – The Glad Cafe, Glasgow (w/ Dan Haywood)16th April – Storey Auditorium, Lancaster (w/ Dan Haywood)17th April – The Triangle, Shipley (w/ Dan Haywood)18th April – Kitchen Garden Cafe, Birmingham (w/ Jacken Elswyth)19th April – Prince Albert, Stroud (w/ Jacken Elswyth, Boss Morris, & Adam Horowitz)20th April – Bom-Bane’s, Brighton (w/ Jacken Elswyth)21st April – Paper Dress, London (w/ Jacken Elswyth & Green Seagull)22nd April – Bishop’s House, Sheffield (w/ Dan Haywood)

23rd June – Nan Moor’s, Todmorden24th June – The Tree House, Frome25th June – Glastonbury Festival26th June – Leigh Folk Festival17th July – Doune The Rabbit Hole Festival

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