Boys Noize, aka Alex Ridha, certainly isn’t endearing himself to those of us tasked with reviewing his latest effort. Listening to the advance version of Power is an altogether frustrating experience; each track is peppered with digitised voices reminding the listener that what they’re hearing is a promo copy and that it’s ‘good stuff.’ The tactic may dissuade piracy but it’s also a nuisance that makes it mightily difficult for anyone with honorable intentions not to give up and smash the CD against a wall. But luckily for you, dear reader, State is made of sterner stuff.
Ridha’s previous release, Oi Oi Oi, bristled with hard and fast slabs of electro and spawned dancefloor favourites in the forms of ‘& Down’ and ‘Let’s Buy Happiness’. In contrast, Power has been conceived with a decidedly more minimalistic approach and reveals itself at a slower pace than its predecessor. The opening track, ‘Gax’, is an airy, beguiling piece with an underlying French influence, which isn’t surprising when considering that Boys Noize once released tracks on the French-based KitsunÃ© Music label. Beyond that, though, the album is built upon the distinct Germanic textures that have come to define Ridha’s work. ‘Kontact Me’ and ‘Transmission’ are faithful examples, strewn as they are with robotic vocals and gritty, primal synthesizers that call to mind the proto-electronic machinations of Kraftwerk.
But just because Power is bereft of brazen, pounding tunes does not mean to say it doesn’t contain some potential club classics-in-waiting. ‘Jeffer’ is an infectiously danceable track with a subtle ’90s retro vibe that worms it’s way firmly inside the listener’s skull, whilst ‘Sweet Light’ provides further proof of Ridha’s uncanny ability to compose magnificently catchy, forward-thinking dance music. On the flipside, there are also instances of unblemished calm. Album-closer ‘Heart Attack’ is a masterpiece of chilled-out electronica that calls to mind legendary exponents of the art, Boards of Canada.
The album is not without the odd hiccup, however, which are found chiefly around the record’s mid-point. ‘Nerve’ is a slow, listless number that never quite gets underway and, likewise, ‘Trooper’ is another track that doesn’t find its feet. In the overall scheme of things, though, they are but minor mishaps in what is a consistent, well-rounded collection.
If Oi Oi Oi was the album that first brought Boys Noize to prominence, then Power is the record that will allow Alex Ridha to move beyond the shadows of contemporary artists such as Justice and Erol Alkan to establish himself as a fully-fledged trendsetter, not only in his chosen genres of electro and techno, but throughout dance music in general. It may not be the album that most fans have been expecting but Ridha has certainly masterminded an LP that’s progressive, captivating and, furthermore, incredibly mature in its conception.