Daniel Avery’s Drone Logic was one of 2013’s standout techno records, brought to life with the hunger of one who had come late to dance music (the Bournemouth-raised producer grew up in the indie-rock tribe). Its follow-up Song for Alpha arrives with Avery having established himself as a successful DJ on the global clubbing circuit. It is calmer and less attention-grabbing but no less high in quality.
“First Light” gets the album under way with a brief shimmer of electronic tones, like sunrise glinting off the eastern stretch of the Thames river where Avery’s studio is located, a converted shipping container on the Isle of Dogs. “Stereo L” marks a smooth acceleration of tempo into ambient techno, with a nice juxtaposition of tight percussive patterns, slowly tolling bass and a subtly phased electronic signal.
Where Drone Logic was like a mountain range, an exhilarating and jagged experience, here the shifts in dynamics are more thoughtfully applied. “Sensation” is intense minimal techno, beats reverberating as though off a concrete wall, while “Diminuendo” should really be called “Crescendo” with its sinister otherworldly sounds and snappy hi-hats. But these outbreaks of action are surrounded by more inward moments.
“Clear” is set to a fast beat but the acid-house synthesiser melody that jangles through it has a mantra-like effect. The electronic abstraction of “Citizen/Nowhere” is reminiscent of the Aphex Twin’s strange kind of introspection. “Quick Eternity” brings the album to an accomplished close with an involving combination of fast percussion and slow-moving drones. It synthesises techno with the indie bands that Avery listened to in his youth, the guitar feedback-obsessed likes of My Bloody Valentine and Spacemen 3. As though produced by a union of guitar effect pedals and computer, its oscillating tones are the sound of two wavelengths becoming one.