Ocean Noise is a much quieter project than its predecessor, Paal. Four years have passed since Christophe Mevel (Pan & Me) stepped out from the shadow of The Dale Cooper Quartet & The Dictaphones, and in that time he’s deepened his sonic palette.
The new album does include an occasional explosion of noise, although listeners will have to be patient. This album seems to dwell more on the ocean floor than on its surface, which means its timbres are more subdued. Crackles emerge like brine shrimp, beginning with the very first track; and they never stray far from the sound field. The vibraphone and strings of this opening salvo serve as a gentle overture, dark as the bottom of the sea.
As the album progresses, we begin to hear more synth and ambient washes, sluggish as the tide but remaining in clear, slow motion. Mevel’s intention is to draw the listener into an unhurried mindset, the antithesis of modern thought. Recorded near the sea, Ocean Noise seeks to echo its more placid facets, and in so doing, attach the sea without to the sea within. The water within our bodies calls out to the deep; the deep responds with tender recognition.
When the strings return to the surface on “Nickel empire”, the project takes on a more melancholic timbre. The slow rise in volume grabs the attention like a life preserver bobbing in the waves. Toward the end of the song, something or somebody stirs. The rustles continue through “Fahrenheit” – the album is meant as a continuous listen – and wedge their way into the foreground in the final triptych. In these pieces, we hear the traces of the debut’s drones, now given new context. It’s a gentle payoff, but a realistic one, like the light flash of insight that provides meaning to the day. (Richard Allen)