Alex Smoke - Lux (4 stars)

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Alex Smoke - Lux

(Hum+Haw)

The third album by Glasgow-based producer Alex Smoke after 2005’s Incommunicado and 2006’s Paradolia, this is the first he’s released on his own Hum+Haw, the offshoot label of his former home Soma. While Soma is well-established locally and internationally as an electronic music label of taste and pedigree, this record represents Hum+Haw’s biggest foray into the market yet. Could Smoke, fans might want to hear, be proclaimed as the new Slam?

Probably not, in all honesty, but then what Smoke (real name Alex Menzies) is doing is fairly far removed from the music of Soma’s founders. While they specialise in credible big room house anthems, Smoke’s work is more eclectic and hard to categorise, as if he’s blending the ethics behind Soma and Warp. This collection is well composed, forward thinking and fiercely listenable for those who enjoy leftfield electronic music, but its appeal on the dancefloor is surely to a niche audience.

There’s one potential floorfiller here, and that’s the dark and driving ‘Paracelsus’. Otherwise, these tracks are glitchy and otherworldy, for example the combinations of snapping rhythm, modulated electronics and vocals which have been distorted beyond understanding during ‘Platitudes’ and ‘Lux+’. This record is relentlessly artificial, from ‘Blingkered’s hypnotic machine crunch to the scurrying, string-overlaid futurism of ‘Northwoods’ and ‘Pilk’, but that’s a good thing. Here is music to be absorbed and enjoyed, to be played and replayed, and to fascinate rather than to bore. It’s the easy listening of this century, and that’s certainly meant as a compliment.

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