Glaswegian based artist Alex Smoke recently released his second album, 'Paradolia' on Soma Records.
Paradolia is defined as the human ability to creatively perceive coherent
images in randomness. This is an unusual word by anyones standard but then
Alex Menzies (aka Mr Smoke) is an artist very far from the usual. A
Rorschach test this is not, more a sonic experiment that explores the
parameters of Alex Smokes potent psyche.
Alex remarks on its significance I guess the album is the pattern and the
tracks the randomness as I didn't have a plan to tie everything together. I
also think it describes really well the appeal of music that at first sounds
random but makes sense as a whole.
It is almost twelve months since Soma unleashed Incommunicado, Smokes
masterful debut. Lauded by critics upon its release in March 2005 it
portrayed his instinctive maturity in constructing emotional, deep grooves
with intricate production techniques. Incommunicado enveloped a myriad of
influences including dub, electro, grime and minimal techno. One of the
album highlights, Dont See The Point demonstrated his desire to
incorporate his own vocals in innovative ways, while voicing his
frustrations at the current political climate. This pivotal release
augmented the fact that his music was not confined to the dancefloor and
could not be pigeonholed by genre.
With Paradolia he has taken this blueprint and pushed the boundaries for a
composition that is swollen with ingenuity and experimentation. The
development of his unique sound is clear to hear, crafting a beguiling
symmetry of melancholy and melody. The result is an a listening experience
that is more cohesive and inspirational than his debut outing.
As he reflects, I guess I'm happier with my production now. The other big
difference is that Incommunicado covered 4 years, whereas this album is
entirely within a year so it probably hangs together better.
Like its predecessor, Alex has once again interpreted styles of music that
make an impact on him. With Paradolia he has gone a step further, welding
disparate genres into mindbending opuss. The most ambitious track on the
album is Prima Materia. Here he unites his two early influences of
classical music (he is classically trained in the cello and piano) and early
house to detonate a symphonic explosion that sounds like nothing else
He includes his own vocals on Never Want To See You Again, Make My Day
and Anima, each of which utilises bamboozling production techniques to
With an intrinsic understanding of how to rock the dancefloor, he has
created the magnificent Meany, the first track to be released as a single
(twelve inch version comes with a Matt John remix). This live-set staple is
a twisted technoid cut of stuttering disorder that will erupt in the club.
Another album seducer is the majestic Snider, a shimmering techno groove
that nods to the minimal sound and his love of classic Detroit. Album
opener Persona is prime example of the deep and pulsing Alex Smoke sound
that we know and love.
The personal nature of his music is evident throughout, on tracks like the
reflective A Moment To Myself, the emotional Somethings Gone and the
fragile beauty of Left Drift his wistful sound resonates. With the
razor-edge beats of We Like It Insipid he draws attention to his dislike
of certain aspects of the world around us. The title refers to the lowest
common denominator tastes of the world as a whole, from Macdonalds to the
Daily Mail to every other fucking flacid appendage of modern society. His
social conscience remains intact.
2005 has been the year which has witnessed this young producers rapid
ascent through the ranks of the techno elite. Since the release of
Incommunicado he has been booked to play the clubs and festivals of the
UK, Europe and beyond. Alex reflects, Its all been slightly surreal,
because everything has happened so fast, but it's obviously been brilliant.
The main thing that I've found hard to get used to is not seeing so much of
my friends at the weekends so next year I'm taking more time off.
His coveted releases on Berlin label Vakant have cemented his club
credentials and found their way into boxes and laptops of innovative djs
everywhere. Not content with a slew of killer twelves, Alex Smoke remixes
have constantly been in demand, recently renovating Mylo, Alex Under and
Vector Lovers. 2006 is already shaping up to be another monumental one for
Alex Smoke with the release of Paradolia and subsequent UK and European