In Alpha Zones, the new sophomore effort from AA Wallace, brings to mind a favourable, if controversial, comparison to Falco, had he been raised in rural Nova Scotia, and composed all of his music in his bedroom. It seems an unkind thing to say, but let’s remember the 80’s were some time ago. They seemed a great idea at the time. A few decades of perspective have shown they’ve actually given us much to be thankful for. Strip away the shoulder-pads of time, and reimagine what synth pop might have become had it not been engulfed in big haired theatrics.
A more complete picture might be to suggest that a drum machine swallowed a television. Which isn’t entirely accurate: there’s a man inside that machine, or vice versa, but it’s also entirely possible that drummers Arthur Doyle and Josh Pothier are poorly disguised cyborgs. But to the point, In Alpha Zones opens with “Previously”, the album’s own brief rumbling recap sequence. Perhaps pointing back to its bedroom disco predecessor, but just as easily bringing to mind The Twilight Zone, it bursts in on “Perdeverence” with it’s TGIF guitar riff, sampled claps, and a dreamy chorus backed by Vogue Dots’ Babette Hayward. It thrives on a diet of syndicated TV and New Coke.
In Alpha Zones digs far enough into the TV metaphor as to sample some of Star Trek’s bleeps and bloops on the very sexy “Secret Name”, while “Success” is presumably the album’s bleak commentary on the hit show Dynasty, “S-U-C-C-E-S-S that’s the way that we spell death”. The track “After These” seems to draw inspiration from the opening scenes of A Clockwork Orange, and at some point on the album it sounds like it’s sampling a wet fan belt from my ’95 Dodge Caravan, which simultaneously evokes nostalgia and panic. Unique, and undoubtedly catchy.
Dark, fast paced, and dancy, In Alpha Zones is what would happen if an animatronic Teddy Ruxpin became the sentient embodiment of Tony Montana’s cloned psyche who has decided to force his way into a club and taken over as DJ for the night. Nobody gets away without trying Teddy’s brown-brown.
For more information visit xxx.aawallace.com