To try and cohesively pinpoint all of (Sandy) Alex G’s musical touchstones is to feel as if you’re playing out the role of some poor detective in a dated crime drama, stood before an investigation board, desperately trying to unravel clues to a conspiracy.
'House Of Sugar' - Alex Giannascoli’s ninth album and third for Domino Records - is the sound of a subconscious truly run riot. A thirteen-track sprawl of pitch-shifted caricatured vocals, shattering industrial outbursts and alt-country inflections; it’s also arguably, the most surreal and refined example of his talents yet.
Amassing a cult following early on, Giannascoli’s DIY oddities reached a much wider audience with the release of 2015’s 'Beach Music' and 2017’s 'Rocket', with guest spots on Frank Ocean’s 'Blonde' and 'Endless' only bolstering his rep further.
The melancholic strain of Alex’s early work, which has drawn countless comparisons to Sparklehorse and Elliott Smith over the years, still remains. Pervading feelings of nostalgia and saudade, bleed into contrasting states of despair and optimism throughout. In the broken light of ‘Hope’ he sings, “Yeah Fentanyl took a few lives from our life” recalling the overdose of his former flatmate. But rather than being stylistically indebted to these artists, with 'House Of Sugar' his experimental vision places him pride of place alongside lo-fi’s finest.
Each intricately layered song here boasts more calories than you’ll often enjoy across entire albums. From the queasy harmonies of ‘Walkaway’, to the brooding electronica of ‘Project 2’ (complete with some Oneohtrix Point Never overspill) via ‘Southern Sky’s glistening vistas, like the Casino gamblers of SugarHouse it’s hard to resist that habitual tug back.
Through turns wholly strange and ambiguous, it’s often unclear where the breadcrumb trail of 'House Of Sugar' is leading us, but it’s a mind-bending trip worth taking nonetheless.
Words: David Weir
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