I had no idea that Atlantic Jaxx, the electronica label owned by UK house duo Basement Jaxx, occasionally puts out downtempo and ambient releases.
So it was a great surprise when this landed in my box, a fresh and astonishingly accomplished cinematic spacemusic album by the mysterious Aluben Noiro. Well not so mysterious now, because I did some digging and discovered Aluben Noiro is the alias of Jaxx in-house engineer and producer Duncan F. Brown and this is his debut.
He calls Levitate State a labour of love, and it shows. The music glows from within, with lovely harmonic drones and progressions forged with assorted synths, organ, piano and hovering choral textures. It has a subtle cosmic power that’s hard to articulate yet naggingly familiar, with echoes of the Serge synth masterpieces of classic West Coast ambient recordings by Michael Stearns and Kevin Braheny. Although it’s not derivative – surprisingly few UK artists are even familiar with the West Coast school – it does somehow tap into the same expansive vein of beatless, droning, quasi symphonic electronica. Duncan’s own personal tastes include Eno, Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada, but he says: “I made a conscious decision not to listen to anything or let anything directly influence me during the creation of Levitate State. It almost came out of my head as a stream of information or a feeling.”
In truth, the album’s publicity blurb would probably have led me to ignore the release if not for the Jaxx connection because it gives the impression that it’s generic relaxation music. It’s so much more. I hope it finds an audience among those who will actually listen and revel in its depths, specifically fans of spacemusic, psyambient and authentic new age. This deserves attention – bigly.