Alex Smoke

When Alex Smoke’s Love Over Will opens with a feel of an old horror movie soundtrack from a late Saturday night film, you know that no matter what transpires moving forward that you are about to be transported to a darker realm. “Fair is Foul” cracks the door of doom with some discordant keys and tension like a carnival slowly turning on you. The snappy vocoder trickery on “Dire Need,” like an industrial swing track, doesn’t ease any feelings of distress, but by the time “LossGain” comes around, you finally get to breathe a bit deeper through a brisk walk that Smoke is allowing you to go on.

It may seem like this diagnosis of the LP is a bit hurried, but I’d like to think we’re attempting to mirror the world Alex Smoke has created. Even more so, it’s a reflection of our perception of what he’s aiming for with this album. George Meredith’s “Dirge in the Woods” had the lines “Overhead, overhead; rushes life in a race; as the clouds, the clouds chase.” And those clouds loom heavy and grey upon us, and thus the atmosphere of this work is modeled within.

Smoke’s voice is like a choking whisper that pulls down branches and hanging impediments to clear a path on “Dust.” Unfortunately, you only get more entwined by the labyrinth. So deep is this LP that “All My Atoms” makes you wonder if you’re hearing the dirge to your own funeral. It’s Gregorian chants for the electronic scene.

What’s oddly admirable about Love Over Will is how tenacious he is throughout in sticking to the world of it all. I wouldn’t exactly call the LP a concept album, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel like one. There are approaching storms that you can do absolutely nothing about other than what for it to (hopefully) pass over with as minimal damage as possible. At times it seems like a reoccurring dream of a robotic, mechanized society, but most of the time you’re planted into a smoky, misty netherworld that you keep getting swallowed by.

Eventually, “Star at the Summit” leads to the realization that you aren’t getting out, and this universe, this grey matter, this hazily imperfect existence? You’re trapped in the mire of it all. A true requiem in “Fall Out” closes the album, but, in an interesting twist, you almost begin to see a light. Your surroundings may not improve, but you do have a chance to finally escape.

Alex Smoke’s Love Over Will is out January 22nd via R&S Records. You can pre-order it here. Joey Smith