Duke Garwood is a London-based multi-instrumentalist and recording artist whose expertise on a wide range of instruments has graced numerous albums by an eclectic range of musicians. While Garwood's own music is rooted in the blues, generating a dark and spectral sound full of late-night atmosphere on albums like 2009's The Sand That Falls and 2014's Heavy Love, working with other artists he's dipped his toes into everything from soul horns to moody electronics, and he's frequently collaborated with vocalist Mark Lanegan.
Born in 1969 in rural Kent, Garwood was given his first guitar at age two, but concentrated on piano until he was 17. His first job as a professional musician was playing guitar on the Orb's "Perpetual Dawn" (as Duke James) from their 1991 debut album Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld. He spent the rest of the decade working on his own skills as a guitarist and vocalist, playing gigs on a variety of instruments with other people, and working in studios. In the first years of the 21st century, he sang or played on recordings by Dusted (as Luke Garwood), Carolyn Hume, and Paul May, among others.
His first single, "Sweet Back" b/w "Blow Blossom," was issued on Loog Records in 2003, followed in 2005 by Holy Week, his debut long-player. These recordings established his reputation as a bluesman of uncommon variety.
Though Garwood was spending a lot of his time recording and playing in the Archie Bronson Outfit, he found time to cut his sophomore album in a barn in Kent. Emerald Palace was released by Butterfly in 2007. In 2008, he played a variety of horns on the Notorious Hi-Fi Killers' Which Side Are You On?; in fact, he was the horn section.
Garwood signed to Fire Records in that same year and released his third album, The Sand That Falls in June of 2009, prefaced a month earlier by the five-track He Was a Warlock EP. He worked with Alexander Tucker in 2011, playing horns and winds on the latter's Dorwytch album. That same year Garwood collaborated with artist Shezad Dawood on the New Dream Machine Project. The artist, inspired by Brion Gysin's original model and the recording Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka, enlisted Garwood and the Moroccan legends to collaborate in performance with a ten-foot-tall dream machine.
Garwood took the blues into more experimental terrain with his next album, 2011's Dreamboatsafari, though it remained rooted in the form. With the exception of drums and some bass, he played everything on the set and produced it. In 2012, he played a crucial role in the loose-knit dark jazz-ambient ensemble Land — which included Tucker and David Sylvian. Their album, Night Within, was issued by Important. That year also marked the beginning of Garwood's working relationship with Lanegan on the latter's Blues Funeral album, and marked his inaugural experience with the American desert, one that would prove highly influential in his own music.
The year 2014 was also notable, as Garwood entered the studio to begin writing and recording his next album. He enlisted a large number of guests including Queens of the Stone Age's Alain Johannes (who, in addition to playing on the recording, mixed it with Lanegan). Heavy Love was cut in both Los Angeles and London, and released by Heavenly in February of 2015. His follow-up, the moody Garden of Ashes, arrived in early 2017. Garwood and Lanegan released another collaborative effort in 2018, With Animals, which matched Lanegan's vocals with spare but evocative electronic backdrops created by Garwood. ~ Thom Jurek