Genre lines are to some extent a thing of the past, with artists free to move into any areas they fancy – take post-classical artists’ electronic work, say, or the way garage-rockers are taking inspiration from metal. Daniel Avery, ostensibly an electronic musician and renowned DJ, is doing the same with his excellent second album, Song For Alpha, drafting in a host of sophisticated ambient, drone and noise influences alongside the acidic techno he pursued on 2013’s Drone Logic.
That album, his debut, was long enough ago that Song For Alpha feels like a huge progression. Gone, or buried, are the vocals that peppered Drone Logic, replaced by ambient washes of hiss, field recordings and more subtle, pulsing beats. This is something of an experience, a long album to be immersed in: lengthy songs, such as the seven-and-a-half-minute techno of Sensation are often separated with shorter, beatless synth pieces, such as Days From Now, which recalls Eno’s work on 1992’s The Shutov Assembly.
The harder-hitting pieces are masterfully produced by Avery, resplendent with all manner of unidentified noises – at times, the sonic mulch is reminiscent of Boards Of Canada at their best. Stereo L channels vintage rave a la Orbital’s early work, but the 3D depth of the high-hats is a thing of wonder, the cymbals echoing like they’re placed in some otherworldly cavern; meanwhile, closer Quick Eternity is like My Bloody Valentine, GAS and Fuck Buttons jamming, and just as good as that sounds.
Ultimately, what makes Song For Alpha feel so special, however, and function as such a complete album, is the organic manner in which each track develops. Although the BPMs are far from sluggish, these pieces take time to unfold, growing from beats or synth arpeggios into perfect aural sculptures. It’s been worth the wait.