Life is a series of interconnected events. Everything happens for a reason, in the sense that one thing happens then another thing happens as a result. An album is a manifestation of this - it has a beginning, a middle and an end and is generally sequenced to give a sense of journey from one place to another via a series of other points or tracks as it were.
As Andrew Paul Regan sings on The Signal and The Noise album highlight ‘Omniscient Narrator’ he wants to “cling to the illusion of free will”. Despite acknowledging the ebb and flow of continuous arising experience, the chorus of power pop hymn to a broken family ‘Mistakes Our Parents Made’ boldly claims ”we are more than just strands of DNA”.
The Signal and The Noise is an album full of contradictions both musically and philosophically. It raises a lot of interesting questions and offers only contradictory answers; it seems to me that the underlying sense that ties these songs is a paradox.
A paradox which is overwhelming when one contemplates the unfathomable hugeness of the universe and our microscopic, seeming irrelevance in the face of the nothingness - ”If we had never been would the universe be seen or be rocks floating forever from indifference to indifference, no potential....”.
Album closer ‘In Potential’ moves through a series of musical moods, from pulsing kraut esque electronica to post-Radiohead piano ballad,and ending on an apocalyptic wall of noise salvo that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Atari Teenage Riot record.
Musically reflecting Regan’s frustration with the elusive REAL NATURE OF EVERYTHING that, throughout the album, was forever eluding his furtive grasping in the ether of the human experience. As Olivier Messiaen wrote in his score as direction for one of the movements of his masterpiece ‘Quartet For The End of Time’ “The abyss is Time with its sadness, its weariness” and while Messaien was coming at things from a Catholic background, Regan is in a similar philosophical area of contemplation, the seeming eternalness of impermanence.
Despite failing to solve this whole LIFE, THE UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING business (he admits himself in ‘Infinite Babies’ that “A lifetime is too short to figure out what life on earth is supposed to be about”) Regan has still managed to produce an album of tremendously acute social satire with a rich, varied musical palette that swings from the Autechre-esque electronica backings of ‘The Easy Road’ to Magnetic Fields-influenced swing electro pop of ‘Omniscient Creator’ and the heavy post kraut electro pulse of ‘One Time Pad’. The Signal and The Noise is a fascinating collision of musical worlds.
The Signal and The Noise’s title refers to the notion of the live signal of a musical instrument and the accompanying noise or static (which is at least partly the echoes of the big bang) and how, as the digital information age ever expands, our own personal signal just contributes to the noise and makes it ever harder to find the truth of LIFE THE UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING. Another manifestation of the paradox of life - the harder you try to understand something rationally,the further away from THE BIG TRUTH you get - ”every single voice is both the signal and the noise and from the chaos the cacophony is born”.
8Sebastian Reynolds's Score