Archer Prewitt, guitarist for the Sea and Cake and formerly of the Coctails, has released three albums and an EP under his own name. Recorded in Chicago by Jeremy Lemos and Mark Greenberg at Semaphore Recordings and Mayfair, respectively, Wilderness is Prewitt's fourth full-length release. Most of the vocals were recorded at Prewitt's home and the album was mixed by Ken Sluiter. Prewitt's band consists of Mark Greenberg (bass, vibes, mellotron, stylophone, bells, piano, organ), Max Crawford (piano, mellotron, synthesizer, organ, trumpet) and Chris Manfrin (drums). Joining the core are special guests Susan Vøelz (violin), Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello), Richard Parenti (saxophone), Nick Broste (trombone) and Ken Champion (pedal steel).
Prewitt's guitar work is integral to the sound of his other band, The Sea and Cake, as it is for his solo work. However, here on his own, Prewitt manages to find an entirely different tone and timbre. Compared to his previous releases, the songs on Wilderness are primarily spare with more focused and refined arrangements. These leaner settings highlight Archer's vocals and more personal lyrics. "O, KY" addresses the loss of Prewitt's father, "No More" and "Way Of The Sun" reveal bleak post-9/11 melancholy, "Go Away" seems like a swan song, and a number of the others continue with Prewitt's love affair with love affairs - the good and the bad.
The nymph-like siren gazing from the cover of Wilderness is a pencil drawing by Archer. He describes her as being an incorruptible innocent; an omniscient "child of nature". This fantastical female ties in with the idea present in many of his lyrics, championing love above all else, even in life's darkest time.
Prewitt's art does not end there; in fact, he is quite an accomplished visual artist. The third issue of his Sof Boy comic was released in July by Drawn & Quarterly. The character has been licensed in Japan by Press Pop Gallery where they make Sof Boy dolls, rings, carry-bags and other assorted collector's items. In addition to his comic work, Archer is a regular illustrator for the Chicago Reader and various periodicals. He has been included in the most recent McSweeney's comic collection, edited by Chris Ware, and is part of the traveling comics show, "Raw, Boiled and Cooked". Prewitt has had two gallery exhibitions of his original drawings and prints in the last year, and has a two- man show opening in Chicago this November with poster artist Jay Ryan. Archer Prewitt's well-crafted and self-produced songs will stand the test of time. Wilderness is an album that gains appreciation with repeated listening.