STA is now Ten Years Old

Basingstokes Alan MX

"The resulting musical exorcism is so determinedly and inventively off kilter that listening to all of it in one go is both exhilarating and unsettling."

ELECTRONIC indie popster Alan MX hails from Basingstoke, which I visited for a weekend back in the long, hot summer of 1984. Apart the fact it had loads of roundabouts, only two other features of this London satellite town have stayed with me; that it was blessed with an excellent Wimpy restaurant and that the public swimming pool was so deep the sixyear- old me almost drowned after jumping in at the "wrong" end. Apparently, Basingstoke's roundabouts have continued to breed at a worrying rate over the past two-and-a-half decades. As for the Wimpy and the pool, who knows? No doubt the former eventually became a Burger King just like its Belfast cousin on the corner of Donegall Place. In any case, it's doubtful that any of this "local colour" has had any effect on the music of Mr MX, whose debut album 'Warpsichord' is available now on the Smalltown America label. This collection of woozy indie pop has a real homebrew feel to it, with electric beats, keys and sampled string instruments merging into a swirling collage with multi-layered vocals. Alan's "bedroom Beatles" compositional style has already earned him comparisons to Of Montreal, Thom Yorke and Tom Vek, resulting in umpteen bloggers becoming worryingly moist and heavy of breath. However, despite such musical forerunners, with Warpsichord Alan MX has hit upon a sound that's his and his alone. These deliberately disorientating tunes are curiously moreish, like sweets that you can't stop eating even after they start to make you feel a bit sick. He earns his pop song stripes with the expert repetition and upbeat vibes of 'Chinese Whispers' and 'The Captain America Video', while 'Green Tea's' waking nightmare strumming is also instantly memorable ("chewing on a skateboard, dreaming about Kung Fu". On the other hand, it's hard to know what exactly to make of lusty dirges like 'Flesh Emergency' and 'Frank's Monster'. In the sleevenotes Alan declares the album to be "a love story, but with robots, zombies, monsters and dark rooms at every turn". He might be onto something there, as 'Warpsichord' feels like it's been pushed, pulled and possessed by some very personal demons. The resulting musical exorcism is so determinedly and inventively off kilter that listening to all of it in one go is both exhilarating and unsettling. Be warned, you may need a quiet lie down afterwards. You can get hold of the record now via your iTunes and actual real life music shops, or order direct from the organ grinders at www.smalltownamerica.co.uk. As for Alan himself, he's online at Myspace.com/alanmx. Alternatively, you could try stalking him around the roundabouts of Basingstoke and perhaps end up in one of his songs. The choice my friends, is yours.

- David Roy, The Irish News