Alex Smoke – Love Over Will

A singular, typically individual return...

Following on from a near two-year break which has been free of outings on R&S Records, Alex Smoke AKA Alex Menzies has since revived his relationship with the esteemed Belgian imprint in time for his next LP venture.

A self-professed purveyor of music that’s never been short of labels such as ‘moody’ and ‘minimal’, the Scottish veteran producer’s latest outing in ‘Love Over Will’, continues to crystallise on these descriptors. Topping up his discography with a further thirteen brooding productions that draw on influences spanning The Law of Thelema to his own unique interest in installation art; Menzies focuses his efforts into honing in this thought-provoking, signature sound, characterised by its use of intermittent vocal snatches and wistful sonic accompaniments to great effect.

Upon listening to the nascent LP in its entirety, the words of Menzies himself from a 2013 interview are called to mind; “I never really thought of myself as part of this whole party scene anyway, as for me electronic music is so much more than just music to get wasted to”. Nowhere is this credo more evident in ‘Love Over Will’ than in its leading track ‘Fair Is Foul’, where Smoke’s trademark, enigmatic vocals breeze their way in throughout the duration of the track to serve as a focal point against a glistening backdrop of slow-rising synths – the weight of emotion plain for all to see with lyrics like “there’s nothing left for us to know”.

As fans of the Glaswegian producer will know only too well, the solemnity of Menzies’ work as Alex Smoke has always proved itself to be multi-faceted; transcending the sphere of electronic music to incorporate the multi-instrumentalist’s penchant for classical instruments. Fast forward to 2016 and this truth remains intact, as Smoke dexterously employs a duo of cellos on ‘Galdr’ – creating something of a funereal presence along the way, before it boils over into a disorientating flurry of clicks and stabs. In addition to this, reminders of Menzies’ choirboy past are littered across the LP wherever traces of his vocals lie, but it’s with ‘Astar Mara’ in which something of a celestial dimension is taken on as a result of the producer-cum-vocalist’s reverberating tones that guide us for the one minute and 55 seconds that follow.

Those who may want to approach ‘Love Over Will’ with the club in mind ought to turn their attention elsewhere, as the seasoned producer once again opts for intensely personal, more leftfield compositions – each one a clear labour of love. Exceptions to the rule are to be had though, and calls for the dancefloor can undeniably be heard within the instrumentals behind tracks such as ‘Manacles’ and ‘All My Atoms’; but, once again, Smoke rejects this pressure in favour of simply doing what he wants to do. Long may he continue to do so.


Words: Sofia Leadbetter

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