Dollboy is the extravagantly bearded Oliver Cherer, formerly of Cooler, armed with a synthesizer alongside a host of more “traditional”, “folky” instruments. He has been performing under this moniker since the late 1990s and released two instrumental albums – including the superbly titled Casual Nudism – before braving the microphone on 2009’s A Beard Of Bees.
This latest release, Dollboy’s fifth, is off to a strong start, with ‘7 Again Or Dust’, a quirkily addictive slice of indie-pop and ‘Alice In Clearwater’ a marked contrast, a beautiful evocation of John Millais’ painting Ophelia, itself inspired by the death of the character in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
The latter is embellished by flautist Anne Garner, one of a host of guest artists along with Jack Hayter on banjo, drummer Andy Calvert and backing vocalist Janet McFarlane, as well as regular collaborator Alan Day.
‘Arctic Winter’ is another haunting stand-out, while others such as ‘The Ventriloquist’, ‘No Trubba!’ and ‘A Golden Age’ alternate between chilled-out bliss and bouncier, more immediately engaging sections.
While undoubtedly an odd beast, I expected the Ulu to offer more sights and sounds to captivate the attention rather than simply provide an engaging distraction – but an enjoyable one it is nonetheless.
Words: Tom White