Boomkat Product Review:
R&S stray closer to the edge with Alex Smoke’s first album for the label adding inspiration from Alastair Crowley’s Thelema philosophy to his recent binds of techno and cyber-gothic pop music.
Picking up where the his eponymous Wraetlic album and the RS1403 12” left us on the edge of the ‘floor, Love Over Will explores a shadier, clammier underbelly of techno-pop, using, as he perfectly puts it, “the human voice [as] the ultimate transducer of emotion” in kin with a palette of gloomy atmospheres, synthetic and instrumental, and his patented, slippery tech rhythms slyding between almost recognisable patterns of electro, techno, hip hop; AmorpHouse, anyone?
At its best, Astar Mara feels like Arca’s mutant, deliquescent contours folding over Richard Youngs whilst the title cut is redolent of Lotic’s curdled arrangements, and Galdr could almost be G.H. with Richard Skelton, for some kinda comparison, but ultimately he’s forging a bold new path of his own, which may well not be aware of those artists but, it just sounds a bit like them to us.
We couldn’t say exactly how the Thelema influence plays out in the music but, if Finlay McKay’s pretty shocking cover image of a man in furious, masturbating flux is any measure, it’s there in Smoke’s willingness to transcend genre and follow his own path: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law…”