Alex "The Alligator" Lukashevsky Prints of Darkness

Alex 'The Alligator' Lukashevsky Prints of Darkness
Canada's best-kept musical secret (even after Owen Pallett issued an entire EP covering his songs), Alex Lukashevsky steps out from behind his Deep Dark United banner with the most song-focused album of his career. In lieu of his usual pack of experimental jazz virtuosos as back up for his playful, creative compositions, the songs on Prints of Darkness are supported by a more theatrical ensemble of bowed bass, flute, violin and trumpet. Lukashevsky's expressive, smoky voice is still central to the pieces, his clever wordplay and jazzy melodies guiding the complex musical arrangements. Sonic twitches of whirring, sputtering noises still find their way into the proceedings, especially in dramatic mid-album track "The Eye" and near title-track "Prince of Darkness," but such usages have never felt more seamlessly integrated into the music as a whole. A new version of "Princess of Darkness" (originally recorded for DDU's Look At/Look Out live disc) closes the too-brief album, eventually disintegrating into a home recording of Lukashevsky playing the song while a bunch of kids shout about the CBC. Prints of Darkness is a brilliant collection of songs as intimate as they are vast. This is another gem in the crown of Toronto's shadow-dwelling songwriting king. (Independent)