ALPHA Come From Heaven (Melankolic)

Alpha are a Bristol duo, signed to Massive Attack's label and their support band of choice on the first of the Massive's two British tours last year. So, take a wild stab in the dark guess who Alpha sound like on this, their 1997 debut album... Strangely, Alpha sound a lot less like the Massive than they rightly should given the array of close links between the two bands, and the root of the differences is discernible as much through the list of samples used as via any other method. Where the Massive's fine last opus sampled The Cure and The Velvet Underground, amongst others, Alpha's record boxes are crammed with the likes of, er, Percy Faith, Burt Bacharach, Michael Legrand, Ronnie Carol, the late, great Dusty Springfield, Bobbie Gentry, Herb Alpert, Sylvia Plath (?!).

So, appropriately, "Come From Heaven" is four sides of sleepy, slow moving music, a bit like the last Portishead album without the beats or Robert Wyatt's "Rock Bottom" with big budget string arrangements. Although not a lot happens it does so in such a restful and charming way that you tend to just float with it, rather in the same manner as with labelmate Craig Armstrong's debut album. The record's twin peaks are "Sometime Later" and "Somewhere Not Here", essentially the same song but sung by guest vocalists Martin Barnard and Wendy Stubbs respectively. Not for everyone, but if you gravitate to the quieter end of the Bristol axis Alpha may be your perfect late night line-up.