Fascinated by the expansive possibilities of sound design, Daniel Avery is a master of impressionistic and transcendental explorations, with a distinct and brutal sound attuned for the dancefloor
Daniel Avery’s second album – ‘Song for Alpha’, the brilliantly absorbing and visionary follow up to 2013’s flawless ‘Drone Logic’ – was inspired largely by his transient life spent between nightclubs, flights, the passenger seats of cars and hotel rooms, cementing a worldwide reputation as one of the defining techno DJs of the decade. Unlike the cynicism caused by such travels on countless rock ‘n’ roll antecedents, Avery’s take on the musical world is hugely positive. “Electronic music is unique in that, whilst it has an immediate effect on the body, the culture surrounding it has the ability to run deep into your life. When I’m in a club, I want to give myself up to music. Witnessing a DJ create an atmosphere from the ground up takes patience and effort from everyone involved present but when the pivotal moments hit, your watch stops ticking. As a DJ, those are the moments I search for and they are the moments that have continued to shape me as a producer.”
The road first began to noticeably influence Avery’s music on 2016’s supremely deft DJ-Kicks compilation – a record that was conceived as a “linear yet expansive trip; a mix concerned with the idea of taking a collective breath and allowing records their own space. Music in which to get lost.” While ‘Drone Logic’ was mainly created for and honed by countless DJ gigs, ‘Song for Alpha’ revels in exploring different spaces. As Avery’s surroundings have changed, so has the sound of the new recordings. Here, the booming sound of the big room is brilliantly countered by the music of the small hours. While the record pivots around a handful of huge dancefloor tracks, they sound odder, sparser than before. These may be club records, but they’re made for dusty, dark rooms, not clinical white spaces.
With newfound energy and time to develop, Avery’s sonic vocabulary has expanded: uplifting ambient lullabies sit perfectly next to mesmeric techno assault. William Basinski, Warp’s Artificial Intelligence, Brian Eno plus his own recent excursions with synth specialist Alessandro Cortini all serve as touchstones for a record that sees Avery take his signature psychedelic-electronic sound to new dimensions, a sound that plays to the head as much as the body. “I’ve become increasingly interested in those moments in a club when the outside world becomes little more than an inconsequential thought at the back of your skull. Eyes closed as opposed to hands in the air. The more time you spend with this idea the deeper you fall.”