It may have propelled him into the big league but ‘Oi Oi Oi’, Boys Noize’s debut album, was ultimately a flawed beast; thuggishly exciting but all too often opting to beat listeners into submission rather than win over by persuasion.
Still, any suggestion that Alex Ridha was a one trick pony were scotched by remixes such as his mix of Feist’s My Moon My Man, which managed to be both a dancefloor bomb without needing to turn everything up to 11 to make it’s point, showing there was more to Boys Noize than just head thrash electro for neon boot boys. His new album carries on in this positive direction and, as the name suggests, ‘Power’ demonstrates he’s learnt that brute strength needs control if it is to be truly effective. Variety and invention allows the music to get into the listeners head rather than bludgeoning it with monolithic overdriven techno.
Not that ‘Power’ has Ridha auditioning for a headline slot at the Big Chill, but bookended as it is by opener Gax’s scene setting crystalline arpeggiated synths and the ambient (well as close as you’re likely to hear on BNR) coda of Heart Attack, it’s clear the iron fist has been sheathed in a velvet glove and is all the better for it. In between these two moments of relative calm, fans of earlier Boys Noize releases will still find plenty of speaker-shredding bass and the kind of distressed synths that have sound engineers the world over casting worried glances in the DJ’s direction. From the ecstatic carousel ride of Jeffer, the orchestral elegance of Sweet Light, and the acidic bounce of Drummer there’s a lighter touch on display here.
With this newfound sense for melody you get the feeling that Ridha’s aiming for hands rather than fists in the air and on the whole he’s pulled it off. While it may not reach quite the same heights, or be as consistent a set as Vitalic’s recent ‘Flashmob’ (but then few techno albums this year will), it more than builds upon the foundations of his debut and should keep Ridha at the top of the maximal techno pack for some time to come.