Album of the Day: The Utopia Strong, “The Utopia Strong”
By Dean Van Nguyen · September 19, 2019 Merch for this release:
Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)

Steve Davis has enjoyed the most interested career rebirth since Mickey Rourke decided he wanted to punch flesh and bone for a living. Anyone familiar with the sport of snooker will know it’s not hyperbolic to declare Davis one of the greatest players of all time, a six-time world champion who established his own era of domination in the 1980s, when snooker was a staple of British TV. So imagine the bemusement surrounding the native Londoner’s rebirth as a club DJ in recent years; instead of making trick shots, Davis spins records as one “DJ Thundermuscle”—at festivals like Glastonbury, natch. And this was a man once dubbed snooker’s Mr. Dull because of his methodical play? What a time to be alive.

Now, joined by multi-instrumentalist and co-DJ Kavus Torabi, as well as Michael J. York of Teleplasmiste, Davis has formed The Utopia Strong. The group’s self-titled debut record is an electronic wonderland, touching on 16-bit scores, sci-fi cinema, and stoned philosophy (how else to describe song titles like “Do You Believe in Two Gods?”). The neo-noir synths of “Swimmer” ostensibly pull influence from Vangelis. And, like the genre god, The Utopia Strong adroitly use synthetic instrumentation to form deeply humane sound patterns: “Konta Chorus” builds and blossoms like a rush of excitement that’s about to burst out of your chest. Elsewhere, the 10-minute flagship single “Brainsurgeons 3” is a captivating mix of bleeps and blips cut with tangled electric guitars that winds to a dramatic conclusion. Taken all together, the album is a poised suite of expert electronic arranging, made by a 62-year-old who seemingly achieved everything he wanted in life; who makes music for the passion of it while having fun with both sides of his persona. That’s pretty cool.

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