STA is now Ten Years Old

Warpsichord Is Infectious

"His infectious electro-pop has arrived and is poised to spread like a computer virus dragging unsuspecting internet surfers kicking and screaming into his world."

'Warpsichord' is the debut album from London-based electronic-experimental musician Alan MX, released on the Smalltown America label. The terms electronic and experimental have become almost a bad word in the music industry as of late. Anyone who isn't an art installation like Lady GaGa need not apply and "ground-breaking" one-hit-wonders eventually disappear into obscurity, however, every once in a while, a persistent artist will rip their way through the grey clouds of musical obscurity and produce something truly unique. Alan MX is one of those rare artists. Recorded in his bedroom, the album somehow stands up against others and stands out. It is not polished by any means but that adds to its charm. Alan MX's talent is outstanding as, rather than merely playing with ready-made electro-pop sound bites in the hopes of creating music, he has become somewhat of an electronic conductor as he takes orchestral sounds and warps them in order to create new sounds, hence the album title. For anyone who doesn't look beyond the obvious, the album may be vaguely confusing, and I will admit that when I first stuck it into my car stereo my face did contort into a 'what the fuck' expression, but the catchiness overtook me and within 20 minutes myself and the other half were complaining that we couldn't get Hawkeye out of our heads. There is a very evident clash between the grandness of ambition and the intimacy of the bedroom setting but, after a few listens you get the feeling that everything Alan MX does is intentional. Warpsichord has been generally well-received, but became a breakout hit on GayDar Radio, and rightly so.

With Alan MX there is no hiding behind the mask of sexual ambiguity which has become so popular. There is a refreshing honesty about the album, especially in tracks like 'Captain America Video', where the speaker is torn between a woman and his own sexuality, as evidenced in his attraction to the Captain America character. Alan MX's staple seems to be contradiction and the serious, almost sombre tone of the instrumentation is verbally attacked by the bursting energy of the lyrics and melody; "I know I'm gay but I'?d make an exception". The sexual honesty is evident here as well as in other tracks like the somewhat sleazy and yet beautifully composed 'Flesh Emergency' which is a furious and unapologetic track. Alan MX himself has said; "When I think about it, most music is an expression of love. Or songs, anyway. The most common subject of a song is love or lust. If someone was to renounce or ignore their sexuality as a musician, I think it limits their accessibility". For the most part, he has succeeded in creating this accessibility with his audience without feeling the necessity to challenge his artistic integrity. His infectious electro-pop has arrived and is poised to spread like a computer virus dragging unsuspecting internet surfers kicking and screaming into his world The first half of the album is very fast-paced and energetic, with the aggressive percussion and tongue-in-cheek expression of Lady GaGa, but this energy seems to fade with the song 'Green Tea', which laments bodily anxieties. Here the album seems to incorporate more of the strangeness of Bjork and the melancholy melodic blurriness of Peter Gabriel. This lyrical insecurity is seen mostly in the track 'Strange Bird, which is an incredibly anxious song with beautiful instrumentation. Some have lamented this change in tone in the album, personally I have felt that with the amount of experimentation with sound and lyric happening on the album, the change of pace is definitely necessary and whilst I could sing 'Captain America Video' to myself all day, the change in pace of the second half of the album is a welcome change. It means that the album can be easily listened to on repeat on long car journeys without me being yelled at to change it to something else. With this artist, there is always something new to be found in each song. Alan MX has created his own special brand of strangeness where genres are played with, but never settled upon. Me? I happen to love the strangeness so I choose to go quietly and not make a fuss.

Drop-d Rating: 7.5/10.

'Warpsichord' is available from the Smalltown America Online Store, all major retailers and download sites. More information can be found using the links below.

- Ciara O'Brien, Drop-d.ie