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Alias | Muted (Anticon)
A founding member of avant hip-hop label Anticon, collaborator with the likes of Sage Francis and Kid606, and author of rap on his debut album, 'The Other Side Of The Looking Glass', Alias here does a deft and rather beautiful about-face. Instantly apparent in the pitter-patter drum-collisions of opener Begin Again, Alias has closely studied the eerie atmospherics of Boards Of Canada, with sideways nods of appreciation to Eno, Aphex and a whole host of down-tempo electronics bearing a Berlin postcode.
On the aptly-entitled 'Muted', there are floods of aching synths, tiny cuts and scratches, sprinklings of piano, and a sensibility clearly inherited from hip-hop. Plus crucially, the tunes are tremendous. Sixes Last closely echoes DJ Shadow, Am I Cool Now? bears a funk twang, while I Would Like To Write A Song That... suffocates with sentiment. The real killer touch however comes when The Notwist's Markus Acher drops in with Unseen Sights, and a stunningly suicidal Marc Almond-esque turn. 'Muted' by choice perhaps, a record to set tongues wagging by any other alternative.

Ian Fletcher
CWAS #13 - Autumn 2003