Steve Davis Interesting Alternative: Steve's Hot Picks

You’re no doubt aware that this column is at odds with many articles contained within Prog. Many thanks to Jerry Ewing and Jo Kendall for initially coming up with the idea and then running with my ‘alternative’ selections!

Our weekly radio show on Phoenix FM is of a similar ilk. The ultimate reward for doing such an eclectic show is that occasionally a listener will discover an artist or seam of music that they would otherwise have missed. It’s tough picking our year’s big hitters, especially when it’s impossible to audition everything, but here’s a snapshot of “The best of what I’ve heard in 2015”.

Surprise! Magma feature twice. Firstly with their latest epic Slag Tanz, a piece they have rolled out in recent live performances and, as is the norm with Magma, has finally been crafted into a studio version. The other release is their 12-CD box set of live performances Kohnzert Zünd, including previously unreleased material. The other ‘shoo in’ was the little known but astonishing band Voice Coils and their latest EP Heaven’s Sense available via Bandcamp. It’s tough to categorise so just buy it!

My most played album of 2015 was from Ukrainian DJ and musician, Mikhaylo Vityuk, under the name Vakula. He has produced a wonderful double album called A Voyage To Arcturus and while Discogs considers it “Deep House, Downtempo, Experimental”, it’s far more accessible to prog fans than those genres, containing great guitar riffs with hints of Krautrock buzzing about. So there!

My latest Zeuhl discovery comes from the Soleil Zeuhl label, where the French band Vak deliver their excellent debut CD, Aedividea. As you would expect, it’s full of great bass lines and is complimented by beautiful female vocals. Perhaps my best find of 2015 comes from the pen of Joseph C. Phillips Jr. under the name Numinous. His latest jazzy, orchestrally, Zappary thingy is entitled Changing Same. Check out 19 for an inroad to this wonderful composer! In a similar vein, take a listen to Italian band Breznev Fun Club and their second album Il Misantropo Felice on the AltrOck label.

The album that has grown on me most is Den Europæiske Spejlbue by Danish artist Frisk Frugt. Should you buy this album blind (or I suppose deaf!) I guarantee that you will hate it. However, with my usual “reserve judgement until you wade through it three times” proviso, then just maybe it will crawl under your skin and become a valued acquisition.

Please, investigate the electronic genius of Oneohtrix Point Never’s latest Garden Of Delete, the jazzy Floating Points debut Elaenia and our two part ‘best of 2015’, which you can find here.