Released last summer, ‘Phase IV’, the debut single by trip-hop supergroup The Last of the Fallen Angels, had more than a sense of perfect timing. Feeling like the ultimate soundtrack to a period of uncertainty and confusion, Phase IV was dark, menacing and highly artistic; the weight of its production and content sparking serious fan and industry attention and leading to many ‘what’s next’ conversations.
Well what’s next, as it happens, is debut album ‘Radio Babylon’, a downtempo masterpiece held together like an imaginary radio show. Nearly-Godesque in its style of matching a variety of electronic textures with a broad spectrum of collaborators, Radio Babylon pushes the darkness of Phase IV into new spaces including the Spirtualized, string laden, heartbreak beauty of ‘Ocean’ and the Blackstar esque feel of ‘Orpheus’.
Fronting the collective, chief Angel Conrad McQueen talks of the unit as being “a collaboration project where I work with singers and musicians from all around the world to produce music that is thought provoking, fun and experimental. A recent feature said I was the dark glue that holds it together and I quite liked that”.
Such glue includes original collaborator, and ‘Kisses’ architect Peter Hook, who helped turn the Angel’s from their conceived Phase IV phase into a full-blown art-project; “Peter Hook produced a single for me a few years ago and we kept in touch. After the success of the debut single, I was talking to Hooky about doing a Fallen Angels album in aid of Musicians Against Homelessness and he was really happy to get involved. He co-wrote and plays bass guitar on “Kisses” and with Hooky on board, I decided to approach some of my other musical heroes – Rowetta (Happy Mondays) and Brinsey Forde (Aswad) and other amazing singers and collaborators from New Jersey USA, Sweden, Ireland, Liverpool, Manchester and in the North East.”
Stacking up with music legend Simon Ellis on production duties (Spice Girls, Westlife, Britney Spears) the next step was to take the collective pieces and create a full album concept, something that was supported by the insertion of dj’s talking between songs (“So many DJs have supported me by playing my music, it was nice to ask them to record a few words and give the album a theme that runs through it. “You’re listening to Radio Babylon!”) and also the introduction of strong audio/visual music videos (“I definitely see LOTFA as a full audio-visual piece and had a clear idea of the look and sound of The Fallen Angels from its inception”.), two moves that brings out further strong artistry in the album.
Touring the album with a few live shows (“I’m very lucky to have the singers Mark Dickinson and Victoria Owsnett as regular collaborators and so that makes playing live much easier and more fun.) and generating some new ideas already for future projects, it’s clear that the angels might last for quite some time – the question though, still, being ‘what’s next’.
Radio Babylon is out 30th November – All sales will go to Musicians Against Homelessness.