Steve Davis' Interesting Alternative

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Intelligent music for intelligent minds.

If asked to put pen to paper and choose your personal top 10 from last year, what comes rising to the top of the pile? Should you listen to your music exclusively online or via iTunes then perhaps it would be interesting to see if your perceived favourites correspond to your play count.

I wonder how many readers are aware of the name William D Drake. His music is not by definition prog, but let’s be honest, very little of the stuff I highlight in this column is!

His latest album Revere Reach is a peach and is my top album of 2015. It’s a magical journey of wonderfully crafted songs that I’m relentlessly spinning on my turntable. No noodly riffs or drum solos for this album, only beautiful melodies that I find myself humming for the rest of the day. These are earworms that I’m delighted to welcome into my subconscious time and time again.

As usual, I implore you to buy this (the vinyl version, of course!) and play it three times. On your first audition, I reckon you’ll go, “Really? Album of the year?” On second airing, it’ll be, “Actually, some tracks are quiet nice.” Third time round and you’ll be smitten with the best of British subtlety. I defy anyone not to be swept away by_ In Converse_. If you’re not a happy bunny by Easter, I promise I’ll buy the LP from you – as long as your stylus wasn’t bought from Poundland.

It was a tough call for top spot as many different genres were competing for my lugholes’ attention, and obviously it’s difficult to judge relative quality when dealing with different styles of music. My recent penchant for electronica may have added to the problem. Techno is as all-encompassing a genre as prog is, and within it lie a myriad of styles – ambient, glitch and left field, to name but three. I love the IDM subgenre. The ‘I’ stands for Intelligent, which begs the question: is there another subgenre called ‘Unintelligent Dance Music’? If so, are the artists happy with their creative lives?

Regardless of the subgenres these two artists fall into, I’ve been blown away by the incredible Holly Herndon album Platform, and the recent release by mouse-manipulator extraordinaire Daniel Lopatin. His latest Oneohtrix Point Never album Garden Of Delete is astounding. Call me old-fashioned but for me, these two geniuses are as creatively brilliant in the modern era as Gentle Giant or Stravinsky were in theirs.

My other three essential albums from last year are: Rêve Général’s Howl, Guapo’s Obscure Knowledge and Vakula’s A Voyage To Arcturus.

Catch Steve’s Interesting Alternative Radio Show every Monday 10pm-midnight at www.Phoenixfm.com