Album Review

Order of Noise

Order of Noise

by Vessel

Tri-Angle Records
7 / 10
21st December, 2012

Reviewed by Martyn Pepperell

Order of Noise, the debut album from Bristol based electronic music producer/DJ Vessel (government name: Sebastian Gainsborough) is a rich, visceral experience. Concerned with textures and experiences, Order Of Noise finds him working from a techno and house rooted blueprint, and instead of following the course, subverting these normally pristine, chrome plated structures with fuzzed out noise music impulses; and a low end heft which pays explicit homage to Vessel's Bristol roots.

With these superficially conflicted, yet actually historically well matched impulses in place, Vessel rolls out a twelve song sequence. It's an experience which while divorced from the traditional folk/rock based lyrical songwriting/storytelling, through making use of noises as cinematic cues, tells a series of short stories as physically tactile aural experiences. For example, on 'Silten', alarm bell tones ring out into hefty drum thumps matched with manipulated vocal stabs. Underscored by the odd handclap roll and monstrous sound effects, the song breaks into bubbling starkissed melody while huge fog horns rise and fall lower in the mix. Leading into a cascade of exploding snares, the song closes out in an expansive industrial shape, occasionally collapsing into jazz informed shapes and sparse melodic sections, essentially creating the effect of travel under the cover of dark; though a dystopian, somewhat alien environment.

Following songs like 'Lache' and 'Aries' have a similar effect, stepping a touch sideways to create respective journeys through sewer tunnels and empty witching hour city streets, with textures generating environment and rhythm powering the journey. On 'Scarletta' the eighth song on the record, distorted electronics competes with kick drum heavy patterns and ghostly synth wails, creating a sense of what initially seems like claustrophobia, but is actually agoraphobia: fear of the outdoors, open spaces, and what could be lurking beyond the edges of the city.

The qualities expressed in 'Scarletta' are an excellent example of the genius of Vessel, which comes down to his ability to take existing ideas/motifs and repeatedly flip them until they become something else, while still retaining an ever present ghost of their former selves. This quality also broadcasts loud and clear on 'Plane Curves', where Vessel folds vocoder and Middle Eastern steel bell melody into his foggy soundworld. In the process Vessel takes signifiers which in late 2012 should feel very played out and dated, somehow successfully presenting them in a manner where they feel fresh and unaffected.

The same can be said for many other elements used across Order Of Noise, be they laser noises, footwork/juke style drum programming, outdoor field recordings or arpeggiated synth melodies. At crux, Vessel's true victory on Order of Noise is continuously illuminating countless divergent facets of modern electronic music under fresh light (or even fresh darkness), letting us listen to simple things we've heard many times over with fresh ears. During these moments leaving us stunned in incoming headlights, he takes advantage of the element of surprise to simultaneously reconfigure his soundworld. Toiling away like the dead suit wearing aliens known as The Strangers in Alex Proyas' neo-noir sci-fi film Dark City, Vessel creates the soundtrack to his own ever shifting cityscape of endless night. It's a sonic visage which while appearing to be chaos theory chance music, is actually a tightly wound, well honed machine, every part interlocking in sequence.

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