Incommunicado

by: Alex Smoke

On the merits of his drum programming alone, Glasgow-based techno producer Alex Smoke makes excellent techno for both listening and moving. His light and wiggly drum patterns are matched up against bubbling bloops and melodic bleeps -- and this is the sort of stuff that has driven listeners into the arms of classic Detroit techno composers like Carl Craig and new-school minimal romantics like Ricardo Villalobos. But what really sets this debut apart is the profound melancholy Smoke adds to the mix, whether through a mournful string line ("Lost in Sound") or a distant echoing robot whisper ("No Consequences"). "Don't See the Point" takes an elliptical buzzing and slowly evolves it to a multi-note melody counterpointed against more distant vocals and curling synth notes, while "Brian's Lung" bridges the gap between playful rave stabs and the jumping microhouse clip-clop familiar to fans of Akufen and the like. This sort of pan-generational rave technique (hard to believe there are now multiple techno generations) is equally evident in the tranced-out synths and galloping beat of "Chica Wappa [Mejor Edit]." At any given point sounding like the best in classic European electronica and contemporary minimalism, Alex Smoke has made an album difficult to date, and equally difficult to turn off. ~ Joshua Glazer

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