In some ways, holding off from reviewing Cyber Tooth, Alan Davey's latest solo offering, has been a good thing. I know that Alan feels this record to be his strongest solo release to date, whereas for me it has been something of a grower as opposed to the immediate WOW factor of Eclectic Devils, its most recent predecessor. I started off somewhat nonplussed on this album, or more probably not understanding the change in direction that Alan has taken with here, but have enjoyed it more each time I've come back to it. So I'm that at point where I'm finding it a much stronger, more cohesive album than, for instance, Human on the Outside, even if I still want to mark it lower than Eclectic Devils which, in any case, contains the majestic 'Encounter', probably the best track on any Davey solo LP, and the hugely impressive 'Angel Down' with Simon House's guest appearance – so it's a damned hard act to follow.
Cyber Tooth has been on sale for quite a few months now, so I suspect that blog regulars will either have it already or at least know something of the concept of this one but for those needing to catch up on all things in Alan's world – and by gosh this is a driven musician with such a lot of range and so many projects on the juggle to demonstrate that – this, in his own words, is about a computer virus that "eats PC flesh but can't eat Apples... yet."
It's a fairly dark album in texture and in tone – and heavily into its instrumental sequences. Davey's bass lines and keyboards have rarely sounded so brooding, and on tracks such as 'Harmonic Orgone', the whole instrumentation – Davey plays everything on this record – is introspective and moody in a way that we've probably never heard from him before. In that respect, we're getting an unexpected record here, one of maturity and considered experimentation that doesn't rely on what the artist has done before but looks for new avenues and pathways to expand the range of music being played. It's as though Gunslinger has absorbed the full-on rocker within Davey's musical personae and this solo album – much like the path he took with Bridget Wishart on their Djinn collaboration but in a less pronounced way – has been the conduit for a different style and approach.