SMOKE AND MIRRORS
If you are one of the rare breed of musical aficionados who are just as content sprawling about on a bear skin rug, clenching the stem of your evening Bordeaux and absorbing a crackling concerto from your antique gramophone as you are twirling glow sticks around a sweaty box-like room full of strangers, then dance music composer ALEX SMOKE will need no introduction.
The Scotsman has built up a reputation as one of the most ambitious artisans in the industry, well known for exploiting his classical background to meld modern day techno with emotive dance-floor symphonies. Smoke’s latest album Lux was a genre defying masterpiece of plenary unification, warm strings embracing dark beats, sharp synths cascading through soft snares, a complex mix of future sounds comprised of many late nights in the studio.
“It was a bit of an experiment in some ways as I wanted to try out a lot of new techniques and ideas, so there was a lot of technical learning going on at the time,” says Smoke. “It took so long to come out though, that by the time it was released I was already two projects ahead and the album felt a bit old to me. I'm still happy with it and that's ultimately what's important to me once I've got a bit of distance from a project.”
One of the new projects that Smoke is referring to is a leftfield film score for caliginous fairy tale Faust, an appropriate mantle for his famously murky electronica.
“It was the culmination of over a year's work and it was a very personal project, so having the premiere go well was very satisfying,” he says. “The main problem is working out how to get it around for people to see as it's not a straightforward process. I'm now working it into an album so I can get the music out there without having to show the film too. The actual writing of it was massively enjoyable for me as it was a proper challenge. Composing nearly two hours of music for a string quintet is a lot of work, but it's where I see my future really.”
The Scotsman will be showcasing a hard-drive full of new exclusive material from his upcoming album when he returns to Australia this month for a series of up front live shows, which if past performances are anything to go by, always include a few welcome surprises.
“Obviously things are grouped together so that I can roughly recreate existing tracks, but the best moments are invariably when things just go their own way on the spur of the moment,” he says. “The last trip was obviously dominated by the collapsed lung (which has) slowed me down a bit so I'll probably not be too mental. But I'll not be sitting in the corner with a sad face and a glass of orange juice either.”
Effigy presents Alex Smoke at Transit on Saturday August 27. Doors open at 8pm, and tickets are $14.70 through Moshtix.