Welcome to the wonderful world of Alex Smoke, the young producer from Glasgow whose potent album, ‘Incommunicado’ is about to be released on Soma Records.
This is Alex Smoke’s eagerly awaited debut and what a masterpiece it is. Already a name to watch in the underground electronic circuit he is on the cusp of getting the recognition he deserves.
Alex Smoke is part of a generation of producers who are blurring the boundaries between minimal, techno and electronica. This music still may live on the dancefloor but it occupies so much more. Drawing from a myriad of influences including dub, electro, grime, latin and experimental pop, Alex Smoke has concocted a deeply emotive artist album that is mysterious, melancholic and inspiring.
Alex comments “I just want it to be musically fulfilling, irrespective of the what genre the listener is usually in to.”
Alex has always been immersed in music and in his youth sang in the Durham Cathedral Choir for four years, he is also an accomplished cellist and pianist and received a musical scholarship in his teens. It was four years ago that he turned his talent to all things electronic and ‘Incommunicado’ is a culmination of this work.
He tells us, “Music's my first love so it just made sense to give it a try when the opportunity came with my first computer. I realised you didn't need anything else except imagination and some simple software.”
Signed to Soma in 2004, he first came to prominence with his two remixes of Funk D’Void’s ‘Way Up High’, later came his twisted re-rub of Envoy’s ‘Move On’ and his debut Soma release ‘Chica Wappa’ He has already gained a fantastic reputation from these and his ‘Simple Things’ twelve on cool German label Vakant.
The album is very personal to Alex and he has also designed all the artwork, the title ‘Incommunicado’ is relevant to him on a number of levels.
As he says “It's a combination of influences really; the notion that somehow, even with all the advances in the world and the pace of technology, we're becoming worse at communicating with each other, more selfish and less in touch with the world as a whole. The other reason is more personal, and just relates to me being quite distant sometimes, and wanting to live on a hill in a shed or something!” This theme ripples throughout the album – and there is a real edge of introspection and emotion, shimmering machine music with a soul. Spine-tingling strings are evident all the way through ‘Incommunicado’ and tracks like album opener ‘6am’, ‘OK’ and ‘Passing Through’ are both stunning and poignant. He also makes several vocal contributions that are a world apart from his chorist background, ‘Don’t See The Point’ is deep and glitchy minimal techno with a pertinent social commentary.
Alex says, “It’s a song about my frustrations at the current political climate. The wrong that's perpetrated in our names and often with our blessing is almost beyond belief.”
He uses also uses his warped vocals to great effect on ‘No Consequence’ and the wonky ‘Ditto’.
‘Chica Wappa’ was his astonishing debut in 2004 and was widely regarded as one of the tracks of the year, here Alex has tweaked it for an exclusive album ‘Mejor Edit’.
He informs us that “Chica Wappa’ is undoubtedly the most optimistic track I'll ever write…my music will never be this upbeat again!”
Another album standout is the menacing ‘Brian’s Lung’, an ingenious slice of jackin’ neo-rave, hoover techno - 2005 wild style, while his intriguing experimental side is perfectly displayed on tracks like ‘Recess’, ‘Coda & Clang’ and the demented sonic dub of ‘Jah Future’.
With ‘Incommunicado’ Alex Smoke has defined his own unique sound, which respectfully nods to DSP pioneers like Matthew Dear, Villalobos, Luciano and Lawrence, who he regards as very influential. This is an accomplished debut from a talent who is going to shine in 2005.