“Daniel Avery has blown minds yet again” – ‘Song For Alpha’ reviewed

It’s been 5 years since the release of the impeccably outstanding ‘Drone Logic’. Every time you are taken back to the record you are constantly reminded of the genius that is Daniel Avery. Now, in 2018 he has returned with his second full-length album ‘Song For Alpha’, and right from the start, you realise that this genius has unfinished business to attend to. Do yourself a favour, if you’re not wearing headphones… go and grab some before listening to this record.

“Eyes closed as opposed to hands in the air. A light emerging from the darkness… the more time you spend with it the deeper you fall” is written in Avery’s Spotify bio. You have to agree with him. I know I did. The more you listen you are pulled into a world of distant soundscapes and otherworldly percussions and beats. The opening swells of ‘First Light’ open the record calmly and collectively. It immediately grabs your attention, as this swell rises and falls to nothing. You are thrown into ‘Stereo L’, a dark and infectious track, with a pulsating synth and atmospheric sounds that lure you closer to the heart of the record.

‘Projector’ is deep, dark and demands your attention. It’s thick kick and pulsing pace transform you’re conscious on any listen. It’s an infectious track with a dark mood that sets the tone for the entire record. Again we are treated to another one-minute long interlude-esque soundscape with ‘TBW17’, adding yet more sense and melodic interpretations to the record, that are carefully placed to further draw your attention.

‘Sensation’ is where the record really gets going. Panning across your headset from left to right, with a pounding and rock solid kick which blends the intelligent sounds together as they proceed to enter the track. At 7 minutes long, ‘Sensation’ is the first realisation of that club feel. It feels distant, and space, yet it’s pulsating energy is captivated by a rising synth that swallows the sound in an epic sweeping motion. ‘Citizen/Nowhere’ has a very Boards of Canada styled touch to its sound. The elegance of the opening soundscape, blended with a distorted beat creates an almost sci-fi sound of space and elegance.

As we fall deeper into Avery’s masterpiece we approach ‘Clear’, one of my personal favourite pieces from the record. It begs to be danced to. Sway, if you prefer that. It’s hypnotic and dangerous. The repeating synth and harmonising fuzz in the background builds an atmosphere of tension and abyss which echoes through your skull as you listen. ‘Diminuendo’ begs you to play it at full volume. If you close your eyes you can picture the scene of a dark, misty club. Strobes, wasted teenagers, smoke… this is the mood that Daniel Avery brings to the table with this track. It’s early morning, it’s raging on, and ‘Diminuendo’ creates a new lease of life in your disorderly body. It’s too infectious to stand still. If you haven’t sunk straight into Avery’s sound, ‘Diminuendo’ should have pulled you straight to the lowest deaths.

‘Days’ From Now’ is a complete contrast to the previous few tracks. We enter a much calmer realm of melodic and distorted xylophones and fuzz, as well as the increasing and vibrant sounds on ‘Embers’, which flutters into the fading night sky from the roaring, and the deadly middle third of the record. It is whats left of that fiery, and roaring energy which bursts from the previous tracks.

‘Slow Fade’ provides much more ambiance, yet the inflicting pulse of the track still makes for an intense and memorable listen. This track is somewhere between the clubs and raves, and the bedrooms and homes. It’s chilled, yet infectiously brilliant. ‘Glitter’ is truly infectious. Blending the soft and airy soundscapes of the interludes, with the pulsating club beats of tracks like ‘Diminuendo’, ‘Glitter’ re-designs the records sound and sets up for a glorifying climax with the beautiful 8 second spoken word passage that sounds to say “Come In”…

With that, we finish with ‘Quick Eternity’. an eight and a half minute long, epic album closer which entails everything that the album holds, and places it into one epic and constantly hard-hitting track. It’s energetic approach, tied in with the trancing synths that lurk through the background of the track, and the alienating pulses that gradually bring this track to a close complete the immersive experience of the album.

Once you hit the final few seconds, you’ll be looking for that loop button. You will re-immerse yourself time and time again and find that you just simply can’t get enough of this truly magnificent piece of art.

9.5/10

This is normally where id place a Spotify link or something to listen to the album in full… but this record deserves the most divine attention. So why don’t you just use your ears, but your eyes, and watch the record as well as listen? Take your time to immerse yourself with the brilliant visuals courtesy of ‘Flat-e’.

Words by Piran Aston (Twitter – @PiranAston_)

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