An Entire Sonic Universe To Explore
First Light is the debut release of Daniel Kessler (of Interpol fame), and his side project Big Noble. The other half of this duo, Joseph Fraioli, is listed as a sound designer, a title which could be pretentious posturing if the work wasn’t so incredible. Together, their work feels like a latter day Fripp / Eno, combining sonic textures – both synthetic and organic – with improvised guitars and a fair helping of effects.
This record is ambient in the way pioneering electronic artists of the Berlin School (think Ashra or Cosmic Jokers) is ambient; not in the way audio wallpaper makes the rounds on Spotify is ambient. There’s even what seems to be a nod to Kraftwerk’s “Numbers” in the opening to their track, “Atlantic Din.” It’s atmospheric, engaging, subtle, engrossing, deep, contemplative, and, ultimately, just damn good.
The opening track, “Ocean Picture,” is a perfect gateway into this album’s musical world. It acts cinematically on the listener’s imagination. Starting with subtle ocean waves, the rolling of water gives way to monolithic mechanical crashes and roars, pierced by a droning synthesizer. The crashes give way to thunder and the synth gives way to a laconic piano. The threshold has been crossed; we’re now in Big Nobel’s hands. From here on in, the listener is treated to a series of sonic vignettes, each one feeling like a revelation, a new world, a new environment, a new adventure to explore.
While it is entirely possible to turn on this record and let it run in the background, and letting its feelers and tendrils probe into your unconscious, there is enough detail and depth here to warrant an uninterrupted, undisturbed listening session. It is incredibly hard to pick out top tracks for this record. Each offering is incredibly strong and well polished. It is best to find a forty-minute long block to turn off the mind, turn off all connections to the outside world and fully experience this piece of art.