Daniel Avery

Song for Alpha

(Phantasy)

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.

★★★★☆

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