Things take a turn for the weird for the techno don.
Gaze out from Daniel Avery’s East London studio, based in a shipping container in Trinity Buoy Wharf, and looming landmarks of the city stare back. Directly across the Thames looms the O2 Arena. Off to the right huddle Canary Wharf ’s everexpanding army of skyscrapers, guardians of the finance district. On a good day, sunlight glimmers off the water, creating an idyllic barrier between the techno producer and his menacing neighbours. “It’s somewhere you can still take a breath in London,” Avery says of the isolated patch, where the electronic producer spent four years sporadically tinkering with his second album. “That’s why the record has pensive moments among the noise.” The shipping unit, stationed beside a Crossrail construction site, is a fittingly stark locale for Avery. He got his start emptying dancefloors with Nine Inch Nails albums in his native Bournemouth. By his early 20s, with Andrew Weatherall’s patronage, he was injecting Factory post-punk and New Order-fashioned new wave into luminous techno, scoring a residency at London club Fabric along the way. His profile crested with Drone Logic, a psych-tinged debut album that drew in club-heads and techno-phobes alike. Avery spent the Friday night at Glastonbury 2016 suspended in the fire-breathing Arcadia spider, tasked with obliterating Brexit blues after the vote rolled in that morning. Eighteen months on, he says that “there’s a lot of negative, hateful, fearful energy being thrown around.” He says clubs insulate against the “noise of the world.” “Electronic music’s about inclusiveness, international ideas, people coming together to find euphoric moments. This album is pushing towards that light in the darkness.” Rather than chase mindless hedonism, he’s veering further left-field. His studio is a lab of stacked synths fed through esoteric guitar pedals. He’s making ambient field recordings to add “a human soul” to the songs. The results are more introspective than his debut album, he says, and weirder too. Anything but “straightforward techno” for short attention spans. “I still believe there’s a desire – a need – to be absorbed,” he insists. “Music to get lost inside.” After Drone Logic upsized his dancefloors, you sense its follow-up is doing the same for Avery’s imagination.
“Electronic music is about people coming together to f ind euphoric moments.”
Wired for sound: Daniel Avery.