Published Apr 03, 2018London-based DJ/producer Daniel Avery has followed up his much-lauded debut (2013's Drone Logic) with Song For Alpha, another robust foray into hypnotic, ambient techno that makes good on the promise of the teaser Slow Fade EP, released in early 2018. It's a focused and meticulously paced album that may veer into repetitiveness for some, but those who give themselves over to its shimmering grooves will find the investment worthwhile.
Avery is essentially working in two complementary modes here, with the album tastefully divided into driving, floor-filling tracks, as well as some seriously cavernous ambient techno that, with the right headphones, will envelope your mind completely. Aphex Twin once described his Selected Ambient Works Vol. II as evoking the experience of standing in a power station on acid, and some of these tracks have a similarly overwhelming aura.
The previously available "Slow Fade" is a good mid-paced example of this, and the aptly titled "Sensation" evokes the same massiveness at a quicker pace, like traveling through a galaxy-blurring wormhole — even if you're actually just taking the subway to work. Centerpiece tracks "Clear" and "Diminuendo" seem a little more earthbound and club-ready, but they're definitely still built to elevate.
There aren't a lot of obvious peaks and valleys on Song For Alpha, so there are few memorably huge moments, but Avery knows how to pique ears more subtly — dropping the beat at the perfect time, for instance, or having multiple elements suddenly reach the critical mass they'd been building to without you noticing, until you do. It's a cerebral style that takes a certain willingness to go along with, but if you do you'll come away with an enhanced notion of what contemporary techno has to offer. (Phantasy/Mute)