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From punk to electronica, Alex Novak gives us a whistlestop tour across his musical career in this new compilation

Like some strange life-form from one of his beloved retro sci-fi films, Northampton’s Alex Novak is one of those rarefied artists who are constantly regenerating and shapeshifting. MERCURIAL 1978-2018 is the first compilation to pull together all the disparate strands of Alex’s career from the raw blast of original ‘77 punks, the ISAWS, to the futurist darkwave of The Venus Fly Trap.

Opening with 10 Tracks from Venus Trap including the addictive ‘Morphine’, the cinematic ‘Pulp Sister’, the insanely catchy ‘Moscow Menagerie’ and covers of Suicide’s ‘Rocket USA’ and The Cramps’ ‘Human Fly’. Travelling back to 1979 it’s the ISAWS with ‘Standens’ being propelled by a youthful enthusiasm. Indicative of how fast the zeitgeist shifted we arrive at the post-punk of Religious Overdose just 12 months later, who captured the desperation of the early ‘80s, especially 1982’s 12” ‘In This Century’. Alex next relocated to London for the busy rhythms of The Tempest and their two Anagram singles are presented here. Alex then hooked up with Martin Bowes’ Attrition, represented here by ‘Feel the Backlash’ a definite highlight from their Smiling, at the Hypogonder Club. The mid nineties that found Alex drawn into the electronic sphere: ‘Definitive Item’ by Nova State Conspiracy, The Den for ‘Vox Kunst’ and ‘You Remind Me...’ from Spore. It’s never easy cramming a four decade career into one 80 minute disc, especially with an artist as diverse as Alex Novak, but as a career overview Mercurial 1978-2018 does a damn fine job. It also makes a fine smorgasbord from which the interested can take a bite. Review by Peter Dennis

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