The music of multi-instrumentalist Don Andrews is alive. It literally breathes and accelerates at a breathtaking pace. On his latest effort, Space and Alienation, Andrews forces the listener to pay attention. No coercion is needed. Calling himself Spirojazz, Andrews crafts hypnotic, thought provoking, and daydreaming instrumentals that inspire various interpretations.
If the title of the album hints at the otherworldly landscapes conjured by ‘70s progressive rock, the payoff is certainly there. Space and Alienation is awash in celestial synthesizers and ghostly atmospherics. However, Andrews isn’t afraid to cut loose with a hooky groove. There is soul beneath the icy keyboards and a huge affection for jazz-fusion, disco, and electronic music. Imagine Keith Emerson collaborating with Radiohead. Just as intriguing are the possible concepts behind these wordless compositions; Spirojazz ventures into dark territory, awakening the mind with creative possibilities.
The enigmatic “Alien Abduction 3001” exemplifies the overall style of the record. Its twitchy rhythms are both ominous and funky as Andrews walks across the balancing beam of light and darkness. It’s as if he is conveying the fear and excitement of the person being taken into another plane of existence. The two parts of “Passing Through” reveal what Andrews is toying with here, a theme of moving on. “Alien Abduction 3001” is focused on physical travel while “Passing Through,” obviously about death, concentrates on spiritual relocation.
Nevertheless, even those who do not feel the need to solve the album’s puzzles have much sonically to savor. The sweetly tuneful synth-pop of “Metro Blues” and the unguarded romanticism of “Mary (And Love’s Lost)” already make this an indelible listen.