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Daniel Avery
Drone Logic Joe Clay , October 7th, 2013 10:04

Post acid-house came the era of the superstar DJ. Insufferable human jukeboxes like Sasha and Oakenfold who rolled like international celebrities, jetting around the world, playing records and making pots of cash, while partying with the beautiful people. Fast forward 20 years, and while we may still live on a planet where David Guetta is treated like a rock star, entering the DJ booth with arms outstretched like Jesus as sponsored by L'Oréal to be deified for dropping a record, thankfully, these days the Guettas are the exception, not the norm.

The new breed of superstar DJ is someone like Londoner Daniel Avery – still jet-setting, yet unassuming and relatively anonymous, and possessed with an innate talent to work a dancefloor into a frenzy without the aid of an absurdly bespectacled talent show judge's lame "banger". It helps that Avery is a bit of a sort, with a handsome mug that you wouldn't kick out of bed for eating crisps, though lining up a sponsorship deal with a jeans company is hopefully low on his list of priorities. Like most of the new guard, Avery honed his craft behind the decks before stepping into the studio. "I was a DJ way before I even thought I might make my own music," he told Resident Advisor. Therefore, the long-time Fabric resident knows exactly what buttons to push now he is creating his own music and does it with considerable aplomb on his debut album, Drone Logic.

Drone Logic isn't just a straightforward club record. It stands alongside Holden's The Inheritors as one of the finest techno albums of the year, but where Holden wasn't so much deconstructing the form as grinding it into dust, Avery isn't fucking with the programme too much. It's still a head trip – a deep record that works brilliantly at home as well as in the club – but it's a more orthodox affair, albeit with a healthy smattering of sonic surprises. Opener 'Water Jump' sets out Avery's stall perfectly; a seemingly straightforward techno track with a twist in its tail. An insidious acid line weaves its way through body poppin' electro beats and an ethereal, looped vocal, before a sudden warped Green Velvet-esque voice intones the song's title and the beats go main room – a moment to knock the chemically altered off their stride on the dancefloor.

Avery clearly knows his history, frequently referencing dance music's heritage. The aforementioned 'Water Jump' could easily have come from the Chemical Brothers' 1997 classic Dig Your Own Hole. He has cited Underworld as an influence, and the title track is the extra-terrestrial distant cousin of the seminal 'Rez' by Romford's finest, with emotive, melodious acid lines and a deadpan female vocal authoritatively stating that "Noise flies high" – in Avery's capable hands it sure does. 'Need Electric' nods back to the psychedelic prog-techno of Guerilla Records. In the propulsive rhythms and uplifting melodies of 'New Energy (Live Through It)' there are echoes of Kraftwerk, but the best is saved to last and the crystalline grooves of 'Knowing We'll Be Here', which is prime Brown album-era Orbital; plaintive electronic music for the mind and body.

Despite these retro allusions, Avery is always pushing forwards, using guitar FX pedals in the studio to recreate the beautiful drones of My Bloody Valentine and Spacemen 3, and this is evident in the sudden bursts of woozy, distorted synths that adorn various tracks on the album, especially the progressive loops of 'Free Floating'. Also refreshing is Avery avoidance of gimmicky drops. 'All I Need' takes a sweet house synth line and sturdy 4/4 beats and builds to the point where you think that it might be heading towards a feverish climax, but instead it just tails off, drifting serenely to its conclusion.

Avery's aim with Drone Logic was to create a record with "a real dynamic" and he has succeeded. It sits together as a cohesive body of work rather than a fragmented collection of club moments. It's weird and warped enough to be categorised alongside the work of Holden and the Border Community mob, but also commercial enough to get major label A&Rs (if such a creature still exists) in a lather; not that Avery should consider jumping ship – Erol Alkan's Phantasy Sound is the perfect home for his music. Andrew Weatherall, the absolute antithesis of the original superstar DJ dinosaurs, is a big fan, tipping Avery as "One to Watch" in Time Out last year. And while no one is suggesting Lord Sabre's powers are waning (listen to his recent amazing remix of Jagwar Ma as evidence), Avery is shaping up nicely as the great man's heir apparent.