Between The Buried and Me’s Tommy Rogers is a man of eclectic taste, possessive of a wide sphere of influence, and no stranger to unpredictable musical experimentation. His first foray in the solo world, Pulse, was a diverse collection of audio pleasures, and sonic joys.
You probably could have accused it of being unfocused, as it’s rammed to the brim with obvious influences, and the music didn’t quite feel like it had found it’s own style yet. However, there was something deliciously exciting about Pulse, a sort of childish glee, which made you feel like the music was supposed to be enjoyed and shared by anyone who cared to listen.
Most ‘solo’ efforts prove to be little more than vanity projects, but Thomas Giles is a man with passion and respect for his craft, and an obvious love of music. Much to my great pleasure, Modern Noise proves to be a solid development on his first solo effort, as he branches his sound out into a more focused and unique musical narrative.
It begins with the almost soothing and undoubtedly space age ‘Wise And Silent’, a solid track of chilled electronica, and mellifluous flows. The album maintains this initial robotic air in the second track, with a futuristic and absorbing sound present throughout much of the album, and as such the record certainly lives up to its title. It continues to build pace throughout these early moments, ‘Siphon The Bad Blood’ possessive of a pounding chorus, thumping drums, and a perhaps a touch of the greatly industrial Nine Inch Nails.
Each track continues in an increasingly diverse vein, from the downright bizarre ‘Blueberry Queen’, to the relaxed progressive air of tracks like ‘I Appear Disappear’, which bounces along into some catchy rock and roll, before winding down with a long and meandering Floydian guitar solo. Carefully placed interludes break up the action, with each section of the album displaying an eclectic mix of 80’s style synth-prog, bounding rock and roll, and relaxing musical textures.
Rogers’s vocals still portray the soft and satisfying vocal tones BTBAM fans will be familiar with, but what is prevalent here for me, is the album never feels like an extension of his primary audio output, but a total extension of the self, and of his individual musical passion and design. Too often solo albums simply become a ‘light’ version of the artists primary group, but here Rogers sets himself apart from his band, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he picks up a whole new set of fans along the way.
There’s little negative that can be said here, except perhaps that the end of the album starts to trail off a little bit, and whilst each track has its powerful moments, often you can let it sink into the background and take no real notice. Oftentimes, and for many people, this is considered fine. However to do this here would perhaps be a waste, as several areas possess many layers and levels, and to let that slip by would almost discredit the work itself. It is a release that certainly deserves more focus and attention than you may initially realise.
The title track closes the album, summing up every aspect of the record, and just when you think it’ll end on a quiet note, it storms back in to recapture your attention, and deliver one final blow before fizzling out into polyphonic electronic rumblings.
Rogers maintains his ever present sphere of musical influence and intellect in all of his music, and Modern Noise is no different. Something here sets the album apart however; it’s focused, fresh, and dominates its own musical style. If Pulse to me was just a tribute to Tommy Rogers’s influences, then Modern Noise is a true expression of what those influences have given him; a drive to create unique and diverse art, and a collection of musical soundscapes that prove to be truly special.
Modern Noise is at times beautiful, outlandish, and fresh. It is unique, and greatly enjoyable, and after that last note hits, there’s nothing else to be done but immediately go back for more.