Far from a New ‘Order’
One needn’t be a low-tech luddite to be a little confused by the process here: Order of Noise, the debut album by Vessel (pseudonym of artist Sebastian Gainsborough) is a piece of electronica that merits neither scorn nor praise. To be more specific, Order of Noise elicits a larger quandary at work in popular music these days—something of more consequence than anything on the album itself.
Explaining Vessel’s sound, the album’s press release takes pride in “using techno and house as a jumping off point” to shift the style into something more “unconvential and alien”—and yet one wonders what exactly is so foreign about the driving, “click, drag, copy, paste” rhythms of “Scarletta” and “Court of Lions.” Even someone with little to no experience in the genre is liable to recognize these cuts as paint-by-numbers material.
Does one feel the urge to dance while listening? Not particularly, as many of the arrangements here are uninspired at best, and likely available to anyone with enough patience to sift through a drop-down menu on a beats-making interface. “Silten” has an interesting hypnotic trance-style arrangement that balances bristling, electronic bongo lines against a drippy synthesizer flourish and looped bellowing grunt, but the intrigue loses the listener quickly. As the brain invariably controls the feet, one would guess that any disassociative shuffle you could muster to these tracks would become purely a test of endurance, rather than an act of genuine enjoyment. “Temples” is also an interesting subversion into something more open-ended, yet it’s unable to shake the specter of a series of happy accidents stemming from just noodling around enough.
Still, benefit of the doubt: With this unfair and perhaps thoroughly narrow-minded view of experimental, electronically orchestrated music, the question that can instead be broached is “How does this effort stand out?” A hard question for an artist of any kind to confront, no doubt, but especially so in instances such as this one, where mood and composition are king. How does a professional electronic artist separate him or herself from the hundreds of basement dwellers fiddling around with pirated copies of Pro Tools? More pointedly, what distinguishes the danceable synth pap of “Plane Curves” as the work of a talented composer rather than a savvy if somewhat bored teenager?
Bottom line: The tracks that do stand out fail to outrstrip the genres as claimed, and the tracks that do not stand out reek of lunch-break sketches—crucially and unfortunately in reference to the two tracks bookending the album, especially, which have a way of escaping nearly every reaction but passivity. And though perhaps nothing on Order of Noise deserves the egregious rant dealt in this review, the music simply refuses to put up any fight against bleeding into the growing mass it attempts to transcend.