Alt-J | An Awesome Wave | Album Review

Article Contributed by Kevin Adams | Published on Monday, December 24, 2012

An Awesome Wave, the debut release by British quartet, ∆ (pronounced Alt-J) is instantly a highly prized band by fans and critics. Perhaps “instantly” isn’t the right word to describe An Awesome Wave. Alt-J was formed back in 2007. The four members met at Leeds University: Gwil Sainsbury (guitarist/bassist), Joe Newman (guitar/vocals), Gus Unger-Hamilton (keyboards) and Thom Green (drums).   An Awesome Wave was actually five years in the making, recently released by Infectious Music on September 2012* (US). “Alt-J” is the keystroke for the Greek letter delta or ∆ which science and mathematics use to describe change, as the notation of derivatives and differentials.

Alt-J is an “art rock” band who dabbles in experimental pop with an indie bent. An Awesome Wave sounds like collaboration between Radiohead and Mumford and Sons. Which is by all means a compliment to the music of Alt-J, who is the winner of this year’s Barclaycard Mercury Prize. The album is erudite and references popular films and literature. For example, “Breezeblocks” is based on Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, with corresponding lyrics to Sendak’s line, 'Oh, please don't go—we'll eat you up—we love you so!'

An Awesome Wave offers the geometrically melodic electronica, “Tessellate” (official video). With the video, again Alt-J references art, this time Italian Renaissance artist Raphael’s “The School of Athens.” It’s fair to say Alt-J implores elements similar to the Imagism of Ezra Pound, who wrote under a pseudonym in the March 1913 issue of Poetry, Pound's note opened with a definition of an image, "that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time." Perhaps “instantly” is the right word to describe An Awesome Wave, reason behind their music and the image ∆.

Looking ahead, “An Awesome Wave” Tour will be in Denver at the Bluebird Theater on April 3rd, or find Alt-J on tour.

*released, May 2012 in Europe