When I heard that Steve Wells (ex{Fur Patrol}) was releasing his debut soloalbum I had no idea what to expect, but I know it wasn’t this! For a musicianwho made his name as guitarist in a multi-platinum band, there are waymore keyboards here than one would expect, and the production makes thisalbum sound huge. I kept imagining I was down at Lake Tekapo, feelinginsignificant while looking up at the stars, and then when I read the pressrelease, I realised it was inspired by the dramatic landscapes of Steve’sAfrican childhood (having grown up in Zambia). “I recall the 8 months or so of hot and dry. Then thewind would change, and we could smell the rain in the air. Looking out over the plains, we would seethe thunderheads coming our way. It was so exciting. When the storm hit, us kids would run wild inthe rain.”But what makes this album so interesting is that through the 11 songs we are taken on multiplejourneys, and we never know where it is going to lead. The multi-tracked staccato guitars on Dreamsof an Angel are percussive and very African in nature, while Not What You Want is a grungey mix ofrock and electronica delivered in a manner which one can imagine being utilised by Robert Smith asit combines tunefulness and discord in a wonderfully messy whole.Contrast that to W1S which may be keyboard led, but the riffs behind it are massive and one can just“see” this being played by a metal act at Wacken, while Waste My Time features Lucy Day (Lumoy)who brings an ethereal beauty to a song which is way more sombre and restrained. Steve has a greatunderstanding of pace and balance, so the album moves through different styles, all of which havedeliberately been placed to create contrast between what has gone before and what comes next. Toplay this on shuffle (which should be outlawed) would be nothing short of criminal as one of thedelights is the way we move through the album, a real voyage of discovery. The material varies inlength from just over one minute to six, and the huge soundscapes always have purpose andmeaning; there is an intent which can often be missing from that type of music and one can easilyimagine this being used in a cinematic context as it is hugely expressive. Well worth investigation.

by Kev Rowland