the tide’s return: luke vollar on alec cheer

November 19, 2015 at 1:39 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Alec Cheer – Low Summer Sunlight On Water (vinyl LP, Macrowhisker, *MW* 3, edition of 161 or download)

Cheer – Street Wondering Memory Recall (CD-r, apollolaan recordings, edition of 150 of download from Macrowhisker)

Cheer – Partick Car Lights (CD-r, Benbecula Records – Minerals Series, BEN545)

Cheer – Autumn (download, Macrowhisker, *MW* 8)

low summerstreet wonderingautumn

Alec Cheer is a Glasgow based gent who moves in circles of the drone/free/psych community, at one point slinging bass in the sadly defunct higher minded rockers Pyramidion. Alongside his solo work he produces beautiful photography, artwork and animation – just quietly getting on with it.

It was on a break to the South Ayrshire coast to celebrate a good friend’s imminent wedding that I asked Alec to part with some goods.  I’d been aware that he did these things but had only heard snippets (and a lot of praise). He graciously posted me some items post-stag-do which, to my slight embarrassment, I am finally sitting down with several months later.

Given the nature of Alec’s music it is unsurprising that I should find myself wistfully reflecting on an idyllic weekend with some fine company in the beautiful Scottish countryside celebrating the arc into adulthood of marriage, love, friendship. While I chuckled at the hi-jinx reflected in my own shoddy photos I found myself with a lump in my throat when, after the hangovers had subsided, Alec forwarded his pictures on: simple moments at the tail end of the summer captured in a disarmingly modest yet radiant hue. ‘What if life is little more than a collection of moments?’ I thought, ‘most forgettable, a few magical, all lost forever.’

Low Summer Sunlight On Water is mostly piano played in a spare, primitive fashion save for the odd recording of feet crunching along a beach. I may have mentioned before that I love the piano and this ticks all the right boxes.  Phrases and patterns are nagged obsessively, emerging from a dusty nostalgic yearning.  As some of it is recorded in a library in Glasgow (a big, old one) it is easy to imagine Alec at the keys, lost in his own world.

Street Wondering Memory Recall is composed using cyclical acoustic guitar patterns, slow drones and blurred field recordings.  The slowly rotating orbs of the final track, ‘Inertia Through Chaos’, soften steel strings into clouds of white feathers falling from above in infinite slow motion. It sounds like coming home.

Like a crazed dope fiend I immediately slap on the next disc: Partick Car Lights. With sounds this openly lush I might struggle to look Alec in the eye without blushing. His heart is big and he’s not afraid to tell you that it will all be OK in the end. At the wrong/right moment you could find yourself crying like a baby to this. I have all the time in the world for the chilly alien landscapes described in these pages however the abundance of warmth in this music could thaw the chillies right out of you.  In these over saturated and cynical times of sound in abundance it is easy to forget the raw power of music when positive emotions are invested effectively.

Cheer nudges niggling pressure points with radiant heat before gently guiding you to an armchair by an open fire.  Pressing a generous slug of single malt whiskey into your hand, he suggests an early night and a bracing stroll at daybreak. The album slows way down towards the end: humming loops that dance like the setting sun over the tide’s inevitable return.

Alec also has a digital only album available on his Bandcamp site – Macrowhisker – called Autumn. Apparently inspired by his large collection of reverb and delay units, it has his acoustic guitar central to it with the effects expanding the sound to the aphotic zones of porpoise love rituals. A kind of Arthur Russell feel of day dream contentment is added to Alec’s big, open and joyful guitar styling.  It’s somewhat appropriate that I should enjoy this whilst gazing out of the window at the autumnal North Yorkshire landscape.


Alec Cheer


apollolaan recordings

Benbecula Records (Editor’s note: label shut down in 2009 so you’ll have to be resourceful…)

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