Deemed “the next Radiohead”, British alt-prog rock band Alt-J are set to release their third studio album, RELAXER, this Friday – it can’t come soon enough. The trio has come a long way since the Mac keyboard shortcut inspiration from their ‘Breezeblocks’ days, now venturing into almost entirely new sonic territory with RELAXER, featuring their highly acclaimed single ‘3WW’ and even a cover of ‘House of the Rising Sun’.
The album art is screenshot from the 1988 Playstation game, LSD: Dream Emulator, a surrealistic exploration video game based on a dream journal from one of the developing artists. The player participates in a surreal open environment exploration with suddenly changing dreamscapes. ‘3WW’ also featured several screenshots and it’s not difficult to tell why.
RELAXER is a blend of experimental textures, ambient and layered vocals, stylistically peculiar percussion, and is nothing less than an enthralling and mystical masterpiece. With woozy and meditative beats and Newman’s smoke-like Kid A vocals, the album is oddly familiar whilst being stunningly innovative.
Whilst it is electric in composition, Alt-J never fails to defy expectations. Singles ‘3WW’, ‘In Cold Blood’, and ‘Adeline’ have already been released and will feature on the album. From these tracks alone, we know that we can expect more mysterious lyrics (Three Worn Words: “I love you”), female vocals (Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell), and much more intensity in their arrangements.
“What we always try to achieve is to make music that we like, that we find interesting,” said keyboardist Unger-Hamilton, “We’re always conscious of not trying to sound too ‘Alt-J’ even though I don’t think there’s much danger of that because we don’t really have a particular sound.”
“Relaxer is really just an expression of where we are at the moment. We take things on a song-by-song basis. We don’t make albums. We write songs and we put those songs together on to albums is the harsh, slightly boring, but true reality of it.”
The band is not just electric in sound, but in the two years since their last critically acclaimed sophomore record, This Is All Yours, Unger-Hamilton has opened a café in East London, percussionist Green released a solo electronic album, and vocalist Newman was featured on a Clams Casino track with Lil B.
Between June and September, Alt-J will be headlining festivals including Lollapalooza, INmusic, Panorama, Popaganda, and Outside Lands, and are touring New Zealand and Australia in December.
“We have become more confident in what we’re doing, who we are and what we do. On your first two albums you almost can’t believe that you’re a band doing this for real. That’s sunk in now.”
Find out more and play Alt-J’s version of LSD: Dream Emulator here.