Beyond the Wizard’s Sleeve is a duo comprising London-based DJ Erol Alkan and Richard Norris, record producer musician and engineer. They certainly have an impressive back catalogue. Alkan started DJing in 90s indie London nightclubs and was responsible for the club Trash which became the most influential club of its time. He turned towards dance music in 2001 and by 2003 was voted Best Breakthrough DJ by Muzik Mag and the Mixmag 2006 DJ of the Year award. He has since remixed tracks for many artists including Klaxons, The Chemical Brothers, Tame Impala and Hot Chip. He is also considered a pioneer of the “mash-up” whereby two records are mixed together quite ingeniously.
Richard Norris was part of electronic dance group The Grid best known for Swamp Thing. He wrote for NME in the 80s and went on to complete remixes for Tame Impala, Cherry Ghost and many more. As Beyond the Wizard’s Sleeve they released four EPs between 2005 and 2007. They have remixed Tracey Thorn and Goldfrapp to name a few. The Soft Bounce is their debut album.
Delicious Light starts slowly like a film score then builds to a dreamy synth pop landscape. Then it gently fades away. It’s almost like prog rock meeting an electronic wave. Iron Age brilliantly encapsulates Hawkwind/metal riffs with a guitar and synth beat that Beck would be proud of (think New Pollution). It’s funkily electronic with guitar splashes here and there. Psychedelic and trippy.
I adore Creation (their second single off the album). It’s very Stereolab inspired like a piece of French cinema with its lush female vocals (Jane Weaver and Hannah Peel) and I’m sure there’s a moog in there responsible for this level of grooviness.
Door to Tomorrow contrasts completely with a the vocal of Euros Childs (from Welsh band, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci) and orchestrated, Beatle-esque sound. It brings to mind Pink Floyd, Syd Barratt era (probably the references to a girl called Emily). Diagram Girl is electronic pop again (more reminiscent of the 80s) and is dreamlike and melancholic. This was their first single off the album.
Black Crow wouldn’t be out of place as a James Bond theme with its dramatic female vocal. Apparently this drew inspiration from an old 70s Lynsey de Paul song Sugar Me. Tomorrow Forever is like a walk across the moon, you can feel the rich vastness and infinity of space. The Soft Bounce is edgy and quirky with a strong percussion beat and more 80s electronic pop. It’s experimental in its tempo that changes often.
Finally First is like being enveloped in a wall of more 60s soundtracks it’s so psychedelic laced. Triumph is short but has sweet female harmonies and finally in Third Mynd a male voice talks us through what sounds like an acid trip rounding the whole album off nicely.
With highlights of Finally First, Iron Age and Creation, this is an inspired combination of a mixture of sounds including as said before, synthesised 80s pop mixed up with tantalising 60s psychedelia, it’s almost like its own “mash-up” but this combination never sounds old: it is fresh and inventive and a notable debut album.