In the late 2000s, a producer with the moniker Stopmakingme appeared in the scene, releasing some extraordinary remixes for tracks by the likes of Little Boots and Hercules and Love Affair. That is the origin of Daniel Avery, whose blend of house and techno was already revealing a richer underbelly than originally presented. This side of Avery was further exposed when he started producing music under his own name in 2012, and the release of his debut record Drone Logic.
In the full-length format, Avery began to find his own style and voice. And while for Drone Logic he still leaned heavily on his house and techno background, it was his investigations towards acid music and even dark ambient that separated him from the herd. In 2018, he returned with his sophomore release, Song for Alpha, a record that again combined the energy and direct approach of electronic music with a more laid back tone. Psych influences brought a hazy quality, while the ambient touch of the producer established a relaxed sound. Following now on his sophomore record, Avery releases a number of B-sides that didn’t make the final cut, as well as an array of impressive remixes, reinterpreting his original vision.
The B-sides follow many of the same patterns that the record introduced. Here Avery creates a nice combination of hectic movement with more gentle tones. “Under the Tallest Arch” displays this attribute as the powerful percussion meets with a wave of smooth synths, producing mesmerizing soundscapes. The dreamy tones also have their own space in moments like “Glass” establishing a hallucinatory ambiance. The verbose percussive themes found here compliment the otherwise subtle and melancholic synth work.
Avery diverges from this central theme of contradiction between an active and energetic rhythmic backbone and a relaxed and smooth synth orchestration. Such a moment is the dissonant and fiercely erratic approach he takes in “Hyper Detail”, which feels like the alter-ego of a track like “Clear” from the original record, in terms of its choice of piercing sounds and overall disorienting progression. On the other end, the producer travels to moments of pure ambient bliss, either through a subtler percussion in “AQPAN6102” or by reaching drone glory in the minimal “Memory Loop”. And then there are times when Avery is simply roaming free around other notions, be it the tribalistic elements investigated in “Radius” or the bizarre vocalizations of “Time Marked Its Irregular Pulse in Her Eyes”.
When it comes to the remixes, this record arrives with a wonderful diversity of styles. Actress takes “Slow Fade” and reduces the hypnotic quality, forcing the track to become more obtrusive and aggressive, letting a mysterious atmosphere set in. On the other hand, Four Tet adds a bit of IDM flare to “Quick Eternity”, switching the track from its ambient roots towards a fantastically layered off-kilter offering. Jon Hopkins resorts to a traditional electronic approach, taking “Glitter” and transforming it into a danceable anthem, with Giant Swan taking a similar approach to “Hyper Detail”, apply their post-club tactics to create a bombastic rendition. Then there are some moments of stunning transformation, with Surgeon mutating the ritualistic “Radius” into an aggressive and in-your-face overture, while Inga Mauer takes the opposite approach adding repetitive and upbeat ritualism to “Fever Dream”.
There are two things to take away from this release. Firstly, the quality of the B-sides is surprisingly close to the original material, and even though they might aesthetically not conform to the vibe of the full-length it is a solid move releasing them on their own. Secondly, this is an impressive collection of remixes and one that sees various re-interpretations of Avery’s work. So even though this might be a release focused more towards Avery’s fanbase, it has retained the producer’s standard.