Monday, May 14, 2012
Until 24 hours ago I wasn't even aware of Alt-J's existence, now, I'm convinced that the Leeds outfit's possess in their debut release, One Awesome Wave, one of this year's more interesting listens.
Packaged in an elaborate, origami-styled sleeve, their album grabbed my attention as soon as it arrived on my desk. Emblazoned with photography contributed by a space program, and sleek minimalist liner notes, it telegraphed something interesting about the band even as it revealed little detail about them.
Before even listening, further research actually portrays them as disappearing at the wrong end of pretentiousness. For starters, their band-name is actually derived from the computer inputs on a Mac to achieve their real name, an unpronounceable symbol: ∆
Then there's the matter of the band's formation, the four members meeting while completing Fine Arts degrees who bonded over a love of hallucinogens, Tudor-era composers and perhaps recognising kindred spirits in equally eccentrically named fellows like Gwilym and Gus Unger-Hamilton.
Work past their arty conceits however, and you'll be rewarded by the rich, textured ideas that lie beneath.
With naught but a single EP to their credit, they claimed the attention of UK Press including Q Magazine, who made their cut 'Breezeblocks' their 'Track of the Day.' As well as attention from taste-making electro maestro Tom Vek, who remixed the track.
One Awesome Wave is the band's first full-length, and a solid introduction to their genre-bending tunes. Making full use of UK's propensity for claustrophobic beats in the garage/post-dubstep mould, yet not disembarking from more traditional, albeit rhythmic, approaches to piano and guitar. All mixed together in what the quartet has labelled 'folk-step.'
In a lineage that could be traced through the tertiary favoured Foals through to the sophisticated music of Wild Beasts, Alt-J prove they aren't necessarily too smart for their own good.
ALT-J ∆ - Breezeblocks by Pias France ALT-J - Tessellate by Pias France