But even though Alex and the Grizzly is as elegant and immaculately produced as you'd expect, the name "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" does give a clue to the protean nature of the album. Nothing here is prone to sudden gut-wrenching transformations, yet almost every track ends up far away from where it began. "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" is a prime example, tribal chanting and Krautrock drums building up to a stentorian spoken interlude before giving way to cavernous beats and shards of guitar. "Lovin" begins as a somber ballad sung by Barck, before a female foil turns it into a duet, and the rhythms quicken into gliding house, while the epic "Soweto Symphony" goes from ragged guitars through a string-soaked central section reminiscent of 4 Hero circa "Two Pages" before ending as rumbling techno and cascades of drums.
Indeed, those shifting tides swell from the outset with the rolling waves that begin "Pictures of the Sea," which introduces both Barck's vocals and the subtly changing gears that are the album's main leitmotifs. To be honest, even though this is the first time we've heard his vocals on record, Barck's timorous baritone is hardly a revelation that he's been hiding his light under a bushel. Nonetheless, it's deployed sparingly and effectively, winding like a whisper throughout the album and setting the overall mournful tone. "The Barking Grizzle" might nod towards Prommer's house-orientated Voom: Voom project with Peter Kruder, but Alex and the Grizzly is more in the lineage of overlooked pleasures like Will Saul's The Space Between and Presence's All Systems Gone; albums that contemplate electronic music's deeper shades of blue. Prommer and Barck aren't displaying two radically different sides to their personalities on Alex and the Grizzly. It's more a case of great minds thinking alike.