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 anyone’s 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 Smoke’s 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’, Smoke’s 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, ‘Don’t 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 genre’s into mindbending opus’s. 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 around.
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 devastating effect.
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 ‘Something’s 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 producer’s 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, “It’s 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 dj’s 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 live tour.