The Utopia Strong is a new group comprised of Kavus Torabi (Gong, The Monsoon Bassoon), Michael J. York (Coil) and snooker player-turned-DJ/musician Steve Davis. When together they make potent, heady music, and on their eponymous debut LP they arrange the various elements of their sound into an impressive full-length.
One of the styles that The Utopia Strong frequently lock into here comes over like a proggier version of what Primal Scream were doing on Screamadelica. Across the record we find giddy synths cross-bred with motorik rhythms, Krautrock techniques and progressive techno tropes. Tracks like ‘Swimmer’ use their rhythmic drive as a way of increasing the exuberant, blissful feeling given off by the electronics - the ultimate effect is like Jon Hopkins if he really let his hair down. Elsewhere album centrepiece ‘Brainsurgeons 3’ goes as deep on the Spacemen 3 allusion in the title suggests, blossoming from an orchestrated techno opening into a Can-esque euphoria.
There are also moments on The Utopia Strong where the band really let their freak flag fly. ‘Pickman’s Model’, for instance, is the sort of droning reverie that wouldn’t sound out of place in the soundtrack to 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the way ‘Moonchild’ ends the record with some reversed choral sounds is trippy to say the least. Indeed, the album is bookended by two intriguing pieces of neo-psych - the lilting opener ‘Emerald Tablet’ could pass for an early Panda Bear instrumental.
Kavus Torabi, Steve Davis and Michael J. York invite you to open your third eye when listening to their first LP as The Utopia Strong.