Reading and listening to Daniel Avery interviews, the alignments between his character and music are striking. Personally, he comes across as academically cognisant of electronic music, knowingly possessing a craftsman’s proficiency and a populist’s ear. Outwardly extroverted but actually shy. This could just as easily be applied to any of his releases in isolation; certainly to Avery’s breakthrough 2013 debut album Drone Logic, which exposed him to a larger, more ravenous mainstream audience than his smattering of 2012 EPs. Bombastic but internally reflective. Authenticity is a dirty word in music criticism, but with Avery there is a genuine mirroring between art and artist; so when Avery commented to Mixmag that “the newer work is far more concerned with the extremes of light and dark,” it’s an indexing of Song for Alpha to seriously attend.

Great techno is discomfiting and discombobulating; it defers you to your basest impulses, pied pipering you to its primeval drum. It shudders your bone marrow and transplants your heartbeat, demonic possession by modular synth. Drone Logic never surprised or unsettled the form like the design of a mad genius, but then again, it didn’t try to. It became great techno’s exception to the rule by toying with said impulses, its ebbs and contours entirely familiar without diluting their pleasure. It was an example of unpretentious artistry and nominative determinism, a spotless, robotically gratifying dirge of gulping pads and acidic squawks that arguably stands as the poster-record for modular techno. If you want to wean someone off EDM diarrhoea, Drone Logic is your tailor-made primer.

Only occasionally does Avery revert to straight-edge modular techno on Song For Alpha; the swallowing miasma of ‘Diminuendo’ recalls the bleakest, mankiest of tunnel raves, and ‘Sensation’ is a single-mindedly swirling stomper. These aren’t even necessarily the extreme darks Avery is referring to. It’s not a techno album, at least not one so simplistically defined, and once you grow to appreciate it for what it is, you lose interest in what it could have been.

Much of the record aspires for atmospherics, with Avery explicitly invoking Aphex Twin’s ambient side-hustles alongside ambient deities like William Basinski and of course Brian Eno, and so it’s more redolent of the rave’s twilight aftermath, the Uber home as the city smudges by in purples and oranges. ‘Stereo L’, for instance, is meticulously unreal, as convincing a case for music’s transcendental properties as Eno’s ‘The Big Ship’.

However, tracks like ‘Slow Fade’ and ‘Projector’ are agitated enough to illuminate that Song For Alpha isn’t as elementary as an ambient record featuring techno intervals. The discord between calming white noise drones and murky, low-tempo beats which constitute swathes of Song For Alpha creates an intoxicating effect, the “psychedelica” and “music which transports you to another place” Avery has recurrently stressed as his desired consequence. The inventive smokiness of the production never sacrifices melody or hooks, so that cumulatively it’s a wearied and intransigent beauty, nonconformist but gimmick-free. The dark and light not as conflicting binaries but as the blended shroud which descends on us late at night and early in the morning.

It’s in this dissonance that Song For Alpha is at its most affecting, and at its most genuinely inspired; illustrated persuasively by the groans of distorted synths on ‘Citizen/Nowhere’ languidly duelling with its brittle drum machines. This liminal headspace – discerning something spiritual and orgiastic in the sweat and filth – is not-quite-dance music as inebriation in which you, indeed, not so much flit between the extremes of light and dark as co-exist within them.

Song for Alpha isn’t the revolutionary, pulping, “techno techno techno”-techno behemoth that consolidates Avery’s status as the champion of the Reebok short-back-and-sides masses; it, and Avery, evidently strive to be more than that. It’s a thoughtful, considered progression by one of the UK’s most thoughtful, considerate producers. As ever with the man, the art imitates the artist.