Release Date: Apr 6, 2018
Record label: Mute
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock
Song for Alpha reflects this liminal existence, drifting between contemplative textures more Eno than acid house, and the pummelling thumps that he's been lubricating dance floors with for years. Avery's been on the move musically, too. Whilst Drone Logic was overflowing with gurgling acid, that sound had all but evaporated upon the release of his 2016 DJ-Kicks mix.
Reading and listening to Daniel Avery interviews, the alignments between his character and music are striking. Personally, he comes across as academically cognisant of electronic music, knowingly possessing a craftsman's proficiency and a populist's ear. Outwardly extroverted but actually shy. This could just as easily be applied to any of his releases in isolation; certainly to Avery's breakthrough 2013 debut album Drone Logic, which exposed him to a larger, more ravenous mainstream audience than his smattering of 2012 EPs.
In the five years since its release, Daniel Avery's debut 'Drone Logic' has become a cult classic, one of the most celebrated British techno albums of the 21st Century. On long-awaited follow-up 'Song For Alpha' - an album the producer and DJ has said is made for "eyes closed as opposed to hands in the air" - he explores the spaces around the throbbing beats of 'Drone Logic'. From the sparkling, starry 'Stereo L' to the incessant, unrelenting lynchpin 'Diminuendo', it turns out there's just as much wonder to be found here, and sits gorgeously alongside 'Drone Logic' as a documentation of the other side of the clubbing experience.
Daniel Avery's astounding 2013 full-length Drone Logic tested the boundaries of what could be considered club music, adding shoegaze-like distortion and IDM experimentation to a heady mix of propulsive techno and electro, earning heaps of comparisons to electronic music's most celebrated acts during the '90s without directly aping them. Long-awaited follow-up Song for Alpha goes even further left-field, with the artist chiefly inspired by the more reflective moments of the clubgoing experience, resulting in another album which blurs the line between home listening and DJ ammo. There's no shortage of steady, hypnotic beats here, but this album seems more abstract and hazy compared to the electro-influenced club singles included on Drone Logic.
Song For Alpha, with its contemplative moods and nods to ambient greats, recalls another recent album by a not-exactly-dance producer. Huerco S.'s fuzzy LP as Pendant seemed to chart his ongoing retreat from the club space. Daniel Avery is a different kind of artist--his debut album, 2013's Drone Logic, was a straight-up dance record of the sort that Huerco S.
In coming to do this review, I had one of those really nasty colds you get when you've sat on an aeroplane for a little bit too long, and the recycled air has gone round and around, throwing germs at you until your face feels like it's about to explode. Anyway, before I sat down with Song for Alpha, I'd actually been listening to a bunch of Boards of Canada albums, as that was the only music that seemed to be able to make me feel a little less horrible, and as it turns out, I'm pretty sure Daniel Avery has done the same thing, as when 'First Light', the ambient little intro which kicks off the album comes on, I mistook it for a long lost Boards of Canada tune in my half-asleep state and just assumed my iTunes had just kept on playing their stuff at me. It's no bad thing to be perfectly honest, and it sets up a record very much indebted to the early Warp stalwarts.
Let's cut to the chase: this album is going to be a game-changer for UK-born, Berlin-based DJ/producer George Fitzgerald. While his previous LP was led by the timeless single 'Full Circle' with Boxed In, the album as a whole was somehow less than the sum of its parts. But that's not the case here. In rock terms, the leap here is not unlike the one Radiohead made between 'Pablo Honey' and 'The Bends': the music is more emotive, the confidence sharper, the production bolder.
With the release of his debut LP 'Drone Logic' in 2013, Daniel Avery established himself as a creature of the night. Full of eerie, gloaming synths, acid bass and incisive rhythm, 'Drone Logic' was a record formulated in and aimed at the dancefloor. After five years of touring though, his latest album, 'Song For Alpha', inhabits a more liminal space.