Magi Records - 2004 - 58 minutes

'Made From Sand' starts strongly with 'Round Here', 'Addicted' and 'Indian Sky' all early tracks, each one a highlight. Alphastates' ability to incorporate electronic music seamlessly into a mix that will please most ears makes them real contenders.

There is little to trouble the skip button over the first half of the album and, although the hooks are harder to find as the album progresses, the sounds are never less than compelling.

Catherine Dowling is unquestionably the focal point of this group, her breathy vocals giving even the weaker tracks a sense of purpose. Sounding like Beth Gibbons on more than one occasion, comparisons to Portishead are complimentary and justified. The numerous musical influences that inform the music of Alphastates, although wide-ranging, never dilute what is a clearly defined and unique sound.

On the best tunes nothing sounds accidental, the focussed and deliberate way this music is put together being as noteworthy as the songs themselves. An occasional tendency to be overly stylish strangles a good tune, but for the most part all of the post-production flourishes work well.

With a debut of complex and accomplished compositions, Alphastates will continue to add to an audience that takes their music as seriously as they do.

Ray Donoghue

Tracklisting: Round Here - Sometimes - Addicted - Indian Sky - Last Day Of Summer - Top Of The World (Belvidere) - What You Are - Good Stuff - Kiss Me - Hide - Angel Kiss - Smiles And Lies