Alpha Trips and Hops Their Way Back to Live Shows
Though one of the major innovators of trip hop, Alpha has remained an insider's secret for those who know the best groups in the genre. Alpha has impressed enough big names in the music industry to earn the chance to work with superstars such as Coldplay, Robert Plant, Massive Attack, and even Madonna. Although the group has come and gone over the years, it is all set to bring its unique sound to new listeners and longtime fans.
Alpha's UK tour will include multiple shows scheduled in Glasgow, Scotland, where they'll play at the historic O2 ABC Glasgow on happening Sauchiehall Street. They will also play a concert series at the O2 Newcastle in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.
Alpha may be known for performing and making music, but that's not all they've been up to in the music industry. The group also founded their own record label, Don't Touch Recordings, which has released albums by The Heavy and Blueneck, among others.
The history of Alpha dates back to 1996, when Corin Dingley and Andy Jenks created what they first called Ariel. They were inspired by the two biggest names in trip hop, Massive Attack and Portishead, who were both from Bristol, England, the same city where Jenks and Dingley had been honing their skills in electronica. Wendy Stubbs and Hannah Collins were brought in to add their soulful, melancholy voices to the downtempo tracks. Alpha later signed with Mlankolic, the same label as their influencer Massive Attack. Jenks later left the band, and Stubbs became a full-time member, singing lyrics along with a number of other vocalists, including Helen White and Martin Barnhard.
Alpha's debut album was Come From Heaven in 1997, and it is still considered a classic that spans the realms of trip hop and downtempo. The duo used samples from compositions by Hal David and Burt Bacharach on several tracks, as well as a short recording of famed English poet Sylvia Plath reading her own words. Critics applauded Come From Heaven's blend of atmospheric electronica, orchestral samples, and soaring vocals. Five of the tracks on the album were later remixed and re-released on the EP Pepper the following year.
The second full-length album Alpha released on the Melankolic label was an even bigger hit than Come From Heaven. The 2001 sophomore effort, The Impossible Thrill, lived up to its bold title with 11 trance-and-smile-inducing tracks. This time, Alpha meshed together string instruments, synthetic elements, and a touch of acid jazz.
For their third album, the group switched to the Nettwerk Records label. The 2003 release of Stargazing both paid homage to their atmospheric roots on Come From Heaven and took the group in a new direction. Stargazing sounded less like Portishead or Massive Attack, and more like some of Alpha's other eclectic influences, including Nick Drake and John Barry. It also incorporated booming horns into the soothing, strange and seductive sounds that Alpha is known for. They brought in soul singer Kelvin Swaby to provide a powerful contrast to the other vocalists in the group.
Alpha concerts show that the music of electronica isn't something done solely in a studio. When you have Alpha tickets, the live vocals and mixing onstage will put you right into the process of creating the ethereal soundscapes of downtempo trip hop. Alpha puts the audience into a serene state, with fans grooving as Dingley, Stubbs, and other musicians perform compositions from their '90s classics through their newer work on albums such as Eleventh Trip.
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