Vessel are weird; it must be part of the agreement they signed with Tri-Angle Records. While other acts on the celebrated electronic label are known for hip-hop (Clams Casino) or psychedelic Björk imitations (Ayshay), Sebastian Gainsborough produces corrupt, crackling techno, deviating occasionally into mutilated IDM. Order of Noise may be his cleverest release to date: impenetrable on first glance but revealing a beauty, like a Magic Eye for your ears. !
If Vessel’s gloomy sci-fi synthesizers and prickly beats are meant to disturb you, he adds a friendliness to his recordings that lets his album live up to its title: cohesive sounds made from junk; deceptively organised mayhem. ‘Silten’ opens with a bell telephone that turns into screeches, the beat going round like a shoe in a washing machine, while ‘Stillborn Dub’ borrows Burial’s ambience to create a ghostly, industrial lightshow. It’s a clash that occurs throughout the album: for every strange clang there’s an alluring melody which Gainsborough teases out, like the garbled techno built around the Batman Begins score on ‘Scarletta’.
Closer listening reveals that elements of Order of Noise are a lot less groundbreaking than they might appear. ‘Plane Curves’ and its fuzzy, ambient reverb could be any chillwave song from the last 12 months - despite the jarring drop into frantic techno. ‘Images of Bodies’ and its ominous bass recalls Ennio Morricone’s score for The Thing, while the squealing 8-bit recalls a fruit machine paying out. Gainsborough’s tactic on these lazier tracks is to mix in his own, less familiar components, which he does to perfection on ‘Lache’, adding slurping machinery and popcorn synths to dubstep. The various elements miraculously align and find a rhythm, like a jigsaw puzzle with a hidden message on the reverse.
It’s to Vessel’s credit that he can throw you off track so easily, constantly trying not to be pigeonholed as either a sound artist or techno producer. The way he moves from ‘Temples’ to ‘Court of Lions’ as the album concludes is a masterstroke - one a skit full of chirping birds, the other woozy organ and dance slabs; possibly the most accessible track on the album. Order of Noise shows how to balance the two extremes without committing to one single constant, and that anyone can make an original noise, but to make one that’s accessible takes skill.
8George Bass's Score