"Writer, electronic music producer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist and serial collaborator Alex Dunford has, after a long and tortuous gestation period, finally released a masterful album of exquisite, reverberant melancholy, full of keen, persistent melodies and darkly sculpted, piano-driven soundscapes under the name of Al_X.
With the aid of co-writers and vocalists (Jeff Jepson, Dom Veron, Kate Smith), themselves coming from worlds more akin to folk/blues/jazz/other, the album brings together vintage drum machines and synths, toy instruments, strings and string loops, acoustic guitars, Reverbs, Delays, and miscellaneous tools from Alex's menagerie of gear into a seamless and cinematic whole. The album is reminiscent of Brian Eno, Sigur Ros, Depeche Mode, Radiohead and Recoil. With these influences in mind, Alex takes us on journey through his tastes, his mind, and his favorite instruments in this collection of cinematic pieces and soundscape driven songs".
The record kicks off appropriate enough with Intro, a nice ambient upswell to start the album. Then he launches into it with Here Before the centerpiece of which is a female vocalist, who has a high-pitched girly voice, like Alison Shaw from The Cranes. The music grows until it achieves a nice density, with layers of synths almost swamping her voice, before fading out to an outro of strings. Very lovely.
Bloom takes some mid-tempoed beats and the fast tremoloed guitar from a Lights Out Asia record, and adds in layers of strings and keyboards. There is one point that is gorgeous -- the guitars are whirring so fast they create a faint ambient blur and Dunford adds in a tinkling keyboard bit. Very nice. The general Tortoise-ness carries on in our fourth track, Lose You, which features our second vocalist. I think. It is another female voice, but she sounds a little higher pitched and more human as opposed to that Alison Shaw little girl/pixie squeal. Under this, there are some spacey electro sounds, a deep bass beat, and loud strings. This song gets loud and fun, like Tortoise remixed by late era Underworld.
Overall, i have to say that i enjoy most of this record. It gets a little dull in the middle, and i do wish for some kind of liner notes to explain what the heck was happening with the vocals. However, if you like electro pop, then this is a pretty fine choice.
Sea of Tranquility
AL_X is multi instrumentalist Alex Dunford, from the city of Liverpool England, hometown to many a famous artist. The music AL_X makes on his selftitled debut album can be categorized under Electronic music, influenced by famous electronc bands as we have like Sigur Ros, Depeche Mode and the like.
The music is a combined effort of great synth tones with nasty twists & turns as we also hear drum machines, music loops etc. All the music is composed, produced and all instrumentation played by AleX Dunford.
A bundle of nicely composed soundscapes is brought to the listener and I must say it is really really entertaining to listen to this music. It has an enlightning feel to it, and truly is able to cheer you up when you are having trouble enjoying yourself.
A Nasty Suprise
Fluttery Records is a most appropriate label for one-man-band AL_X, Alex Dunford. On February 10, the writer, producer and all-around instrumentalist from Liverpool released his first LP, and it is certainly fluttery. The self-titled album has a unique ambiance that flutters through your head, droops your eyelids lower, and floats you almost to serenity.
On the surface, “AL_X” is an experimental electronic album; Dunford uses plenty of synthesized sounds and drum machines along with strings and a piano. The tracks vary from heavily industrial, tech tunes to overproduced sonatas.
The tracks that sick to either of those extremes, though worth listening too, are not the strength of “AL_X.” The beauty of the album comes from slowly meshing the harmonies of digitalism with orchestral strings and piano. This is most apparent in the first four tracks.
The song “Intro” would fit seamlessly to the soundtrack of a psychologically thrilling movie – just at the final plot twist. It rises in intensity as the wandering ambiance builds up with more and more layers of repetition.
The third track, “Bloom,” is for the movie’s happy ending. It is the loveliest track we’ve heard this year, and is the highlight of “AL_X.” It is led in by a new wave hum akin to the sounds of M83. It rises and falls throughout the track, much like the whir of Sigur Ros’s “Takk.”
Once Dunford starts adding to the groundwork of “Bloom,” it results in a digital sonata. Bells chime in, piano chords strike, and orchestral strings shout. Dunford scratches a beat around the harmonies making a song you can both groove and cry to at the same time.
The closing track, “Hymn for Moya / If There is a Light,” is as weak a closer as there is. There is a haunting hymn with piano atop that doesn’t go anywhere. It is more of a rambling song that could have been condensed and used as a dividing track on the album.
But that’s what “L.A.G.,” a two-minute piano solo, already does; in the fifth slot, it divides the memorable songs from the forgettable songs.
The latter half of “AL_X” does have two bright spots. The glitch-tune “What is to be Done” and the humbler “Roadkill” are enjoyable.