British electronic producer Daniel Avery has always been, and remains, a keen student of club culture: his last album was a love letter to house and techno, and this influence still lives on to an extent in Song For Alpha.
However, the overall tone of the latter is more introspective and Avery seems to be drawing on slightly more obscure, experimental sources. The looping 303 riff and 808 kickdrums of Stereo L bring to mind Richie Hawtin in his early ’90s work as F.U.S.E. or Plastikman.
The mysterious Days From Now is a dead ringer for Boards Of Canada, and the lingering synth pads throughout belong on an Artificial Intelligence compilation. This album is self-consciously retro, as well as self-consciously lo-fi – most tracks are draped in a subtle layer of analog static, an endearing quirk.
The interlude tracks here tend to be beatless ambient vignettes, while the uptempo numbers are minimal and nocturnal. The housey highlight Sensation, for example, contrasts percussive syncopation with a colossal drone that powers through the track every now and then like a passing freight train.
The more intense and inappropriately named Diminuendo temporarily succumbs to a similar sound before ratcheting back to pounding techno, while closing track Quick Eternity utilises it for a gentler effect.
Daniel Avery has a specific set of tools in his arsenal and these are sometimes spread a bit thin, but Song For Alpha is still a worthy follow-up to 2013’s Drone Logic and an enjoyable listen.