Album Appreciation: Energy is Forever by UKAEA

I am a bit late to the party on this one… actually I am over a year late… I am so late, in fact, that there seem to have been at least four vinyl pressings of this album thus far… perhaps underlining that it has been something of a word-of-mouth grower. However, it is also somewhat ironic that I am late to acknowledge the presence of this LP given that it has been hailed as something of a standard-bearer for ’New Weird Britain’… a ’movement’ that I take as being an antidote to ’grey gammon Britain’…

But there is another reason why I am late to write about this album… and that is because it is so intense and nuanced that I felt that I could only really do it any justice after repeat listens… which is perhaps an element of the ‘New Weird Britain’ movement more generally, and why it exists in such stark relief to the superficial populism that stalks this land.

In actuality I am not a big fan of corralling diverse creative expressions into a single entity, but I think that in this case we are at least talking about something which is in and of itself different and novel, perhaps in some cases wilfully so… although from what I understand from the processes that led to the creation of this record… its emergence was somewhat more organic.

UKAEA is the project of Dan Jones… but it is far from the work of one person… as the list of collaborators in the press notes testifies:

Contributors join from London (Charly Blackburn, Sly & The Family Drone, Conny Prantera, Lydia Morgan, Agathe Max, Torn Relics, Marion and the New River Studios collective), Birmingham (Amdeep Sanghera), Nottingham (Aja Ireland), Sheffield (Deyar Yasin), Southend (John Hannon) and even Dan’s dad contributes bee sounds and photography from Wales.

With such a diverse group of people getting involved it is to Jones’s credit that he managed to achieve what is an extremely fine balance between delivering something that feels coherent all the way through, while containing so many different elements to it. To this end he gives the people he is working with a significant amount of freedom to express themselves, whilst corralling these into something that is really quite impressive…

…to the extent that to single any individual contribution out here would be to somehow denigrate the others. Instead, what I will say, is that this album represents the sort of Britain that I would want to live in… one where we allow freedom of expression… one that is inclusive (and the international and inclusive approach to the music here is broad and noticeable)… one that is diverse with tracks that are soft and melodic, zoned-out and chilled, and hard and heavy; with elements of dance/ rock/ noise and well and of rhythms from across the globe… there are traditional instruments/ synths/ drones/ beats/ samples, you name it, which are all melted together in a universalist crucible and are ultimately formed into something which actually stands for something… I think it is an incredible achievement and one which is clearly far beyond the sum of its parts.

‘Energy is Forever’ was released by Hominid Sounds, and you can still buy in from them here.



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