Alxndr London - 2023

The Quietus

Rarely pictured without his flat straw hat, Alxndr London cuts an enigmatic, quietly powerful figure out in the fringes of the British music scene (or, asone Youtube commenter put it: “this the dude Kendrick has to fight at the end of his training”). Self-described as an afrofuturist, the avant-garde artist’s sound nods to delicate neo-soul and lounge-y contemporary R&B while engaging in lithe, fragmentary experimental electronics, bringing to mind the more down-tempo, left-field end of Blood Orange, Moses Sumney or Kelela. 2023 – released, fittingly, on Gaika’s Spectacular Empire imprint - is full of a strange kind of meandering pop that’s at once slinky, squelchy and seductive.

But while the production is largely coy and softly propulsive, every now and again abrasion cuts through – a reminder that all is not as it seems. “Maybe I’ll get my soul broken / into a million, trillion pieces,” he sings over the skittering beat of ‘Broken Soul’, and it sounds almost anticipatory: this is a release that teems with silky vulnerability, but if it’s sexy it’s in a ‘carpe diem’ way. While it’s never full-on, in-your-face dissonant dystopia, it seems to constantly, quietly teeter on a point of no return – “It was never going to be fair”, he says on glitchy, lush ‘Jury, Judge, Executioner’, before his beautiful falsetto devastates with, “Fluffy golden parachute won’t open” on gentle closing track ‘The Right Amount of Everything’.

Mesmerising, refined, and ornate, in 2023 Alxndr London has created an immersive soundscape: but it’s the way that sadness, sex, faith and hope quietly run through that make his futuristic vision feel so striking. This doesn’t feel an idealised look forward, but rather an acceptance of his doubts – that even in beautiful aspiration, your wings might still end up being clipped.

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Mon Jul 09 07:38:59 GMT 2018