Vapour Night is the musical, shoegaze, post-rock and ambient music project of Ali Murray, a singer-songwriter from Scotland, that also has another (rather dreamy, ambient, folk-like affair) musical project under his own name – you can check that out here. Today though, we’re going to be focusing on his self-titled, Vapour Night release from last year. Louder Than War have described this release by saying: ‘The sound skilfully treads a fine line between distortion and haunting melodies which are particularly evocative of these short days’. I don’t often quote other sources in my reviews, but in this case, I find the reference to be true to a certain extent.
Vapour Night’s self-titled does move between moments of extreme distortion and sound, to some rather gorgeous melodies, like on the second track, The Pulse: this song has some contrasting electronic drums and some very well-produced guitar. The song has this really neat and clean guitar line that get’s more and more tense as the song goes on, until there’s this massive explosion of distortion and noise at the end. I think it’s times like this where I think Vapour Night is at it’s most brave and powerful – the loud and cut-throat is what makes this release stand out. Even the track Knowing It’s The End sounds vibrant with it’s great use of chords, although the bass and vocals are rather forgettable. The tracks Wings Ablaze and Cruel Weather, also sound incredibly loud and bold with their masses of distortion thrown on.
That’s not to say the clean and slower moments are bad, but they can feel a bit more lifeless than these Goliath tracks of distortion. I’d say the main offenders are Below Zero (although I did like the synth on this track a lot, it just needed something else) and until the guest vocals come in, the track, Night Flower. I felt a little bit lost by the instrumental at the end of Night Flower as well, it was like I could have got a lot more from the track if the instrumental at the end was just trimmed down.
Thankfully, Vapour Night manages to hold interests for the rest of the album as the other clean tracks are gripping, like the gorgeous guitar and vocals of Natali. Natali very much feels like the token acoustic track, but enough is going on, especially towards the end to keep my ears interested with it’s bittersweet sound of pretty guitars and quietly sobbing strings. I also really liked the track, Until We Fall Away, which feels like an incredibly chill neo-lounge track – the guitar here is just wonderful.
This is something that deserves touching down on – the use of guitar tone on this album is great. On tracks like Knowing It’s The End, Until We Fall Away, Natali and The Pulse all have amazing sounding guitars. However, with these fantastic sounding guitars comes another gripe about the sound – the vocals can at times sound stale from time to time, the drums too. Thankfully, it doesn’t happen to often and Murray really pulls it out of the bag, vocally, on the later moments of Wings Ablaze, The Pulse and Natali. Otherwise, the drums and the bass are mostly forgotten on this release, which is a shame, since I think it could really buff out some of the songs on here.
I did like this album and it is worth a listen for the incredible atmosphere that Murray is capable of conceiving in tracks like Until We Fall Away and Cruel Weather (opposite ends of the sonds spectrum too). If you’re into experimental post-rock, shoegaze music that dances a very thin line between sounds, then this album is for you. It’s brave, at times and it sounds consistently strong through the guitar.