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Marshall Vincent - In No Particular Order (SA Recordings, 2021)

On his latest EP, Berlin based Alt-R'n'B musician Marshall Vincent continues on his quest for sonic and emotional understanding, with the music found within pulling us in all kinds of incredible directions.

Music speaks to listeners on many levels, depending on the amount of personality placed within it, or indeed the kind of feeling it conveys, but when intrigue in the blends and the progressions come to the forefront, the experience gets heightened to new realms of enjoyment. Intriguing music is a hard variable to quantify, but often its immediacy is found in how the tracks being presented look to unravel themselves, what kind of elements make up the sound and how these elements interact with one another, and of course what spectrum of moods is being presented to us. In an age where 'new' and 'exciting' have become harder to come by - due to the enormity of sounds, scenes and genres persisting in the contemporary era - but when music comes our way that draws a sense of unknown, then the artist behind it all becomes a reference point within the sea of endless music. Intrigue is then placed in their story, their sound, the moods and feelings that they look to convey, and the pursuit of their music remains strong and all encompassing, our breath baited as we anticipate their next move. It's often music that points to many differing threads, a sound that channels into differing audial experiences which reside within a variety of spheres, with an approach that emphasises dynamics and interchangeability. This kind of music making always signals to longevity, because the intricacies that are emphasised mean that we always find new things to fall in love with, to marvel over or indeed find something that pushes our own understandings of music forwards. From record to record, we see all these wonderful little morphologies take place which draw attention to their past sound but also to where it might evolve to, and this leaves us always excited for what might come next. It makes the music have an enormous amount of meaning, one which transcends from the physicality of the music and draws focus to the emotional essences of it all, from its core intents through to the narratives conveyed in lyricism, it all comes together expertly within an enriching musical structure. It's music to loose yourself within, not just with the heart but with the mind too, food for thought that covers us all over as we close our eyes and inhale slowly, before opening them once more to be greeted by a captivating scene where the narratives and the melodies interact with such genuineness. Intrigue is a powerful feeling, and when placed within the context of music, it acts almost as a binding agent, as we become very much involved with the music, from start to finish, floating along on a sea of excellence and purpose.

If there was ever an artist to convey a multitude of these ideals, then it would be Berlin based R'n'B musician Marshall Vincent, who's innovative take on the genre has seen him mix its core foundations with a plethora of differing styles and sounds, leaving behind a body of work that is as bold as it is inherently emotive. Vincent's music has a deeply personal feeling to it, one which is alluded to in the way in which his vocal lines sit just above the melodic sequences that run along underneath, and the way in which the instrumentation shifts from track to track and album to album points to his creative approach to making music. Each tune resides within the realms of R'n'B but always finds a wider scope in which to express things further, with elements of Alternative, Classical, Electronica and Downtempo seeping into the blends at every given opportunity, and it's this morphological approach which provides his music with a beautiful edge. Intrigue remains high as we flow from one release to the next, with Vincent's emotional outlay always pulling something special out the bag, as we are greeted with all manner of narratives and stories. It's this last part that makes his music particularly endearing, as we get the sense that Vincent wants to express every single facet of his own thoughts into the music that he crafts, with the stories which he conjures up speaking to us of relationships, past experiences, the world around us, and the multitude of treads that make up this little thing called life. It's music that appeals to all the senses, from the intrinsic depths residing in every melodic swell to the softly spoken yet emphatically delivered vocal performances. Vincent's conveyance of mood is pitch perfect, with the feelings that course through his veins on every track coming across to us on the same frequencies in which we might experience those emotions, and this can lead to some heart breaking performances but also ones that feel inherently uplifting. This conveyance is also found within the backing music, which swings from more stripped back spaces through to the fullness of ensemble inspired cuts that feel like they were recorded in a valley, and it's this application of scale that make his music feel intimate but also all encompassing at the same time. Music that speaks to the wider human experience but also on a one-to-one basis, a series of emotions that cross all of our minds but perhaps we couldn't quite put our finger on, a passive thought that means much more than we gave it credit for. Vincent's music evokes a reaction within you, a reaction of realisation that jumps right out of the record and into the depths of the consciousness, our eyes open to the fragility of the soul and the emotions that come from the relationships that make up our day to day lives. All of these feelings are translated superbly within his discography, with our selected highlights including the beautifully dynamic feels found on the 'Right Down' record, which was released in 2018; the swinging notions that make up the 'Lush' release, which came out in 2020; the incessantly deep notions that reside within the 'Desire' track, which also came out last year; and finally, the grand and groovy feels found on the 'FF0000' record, which also came out last year. In all, Vincent's music channels a spectrum of moods and feels from across the palette of human existence, from the passion right through to the subdued pains of being at one with oneself or being within the realms of others, and as you travel through his works you get a sense of an artist here being deeply aware of his energies. It's these energies that translate themselves so beautifully within his work, like mirrors and doors that exist within a room which all open and reflect into differing states of mind, all bound together within a musical structure that has always been incredibly engaging. Vincent remains fixated on finding new ways to intrigue listeners both with the words that he speaks but also the melodic sequences that accompany them, with the two sequences doing much to convey honesty, vulnerability and raw passion. You feel every beat, you hear every word, you hang on every bar flowing by, and as we remain cued in from start to finish you really get a sense that a world is being presented to you, one that feels alive and vibrant with all the colours and textures being found within relating to thoughts and emotions that Vincent has gone through, and that feeling keeps your eyes closed and your heart beating. It's music to make you feel alive and emotionally conscious, and we cannot recommend enough going back through his works, just so you can get one of the biggest emotional trips you're likely to ever experience.

my mania, my intensity, and my stress go into themselves, and they explode in these moments… sonic textures, movements, visual cues… all acting as tools to put me back together.

And with that we arrive at his latest effort, 'In No Particular Order', which arrives via SA Recordings. The quote above really emphasises a great deal the meaning behind much of Vincent's work, and it is a approach which permeates through enormously on this newest EP. The music presented is of course intuitively made, with the flows between differing sequences sparked off by tonal shifts that do much to keep the flow from one part to the next invigorating and fresh, as we float along atop a wave of human experiences and inner meanings. The backing tracks represent this invigorating approach, with the tones, textures and tempos shifting from track to track, as if they are telling a story of putting things back together, building from one stanza to the next with the purest of intentions. It's a record that grabs your attention right from the off, its passages pointing to the deepest corners of Vincent's mind, his world painted vividly as a sea of the colour wheel, as our eyes get directed to the various triangles that spin around the circle. Reflective, personal, infinite, it's a journey that takes in all the intricacies of the shared worlds we reside within, the connections we make or the spaces we find ourselves within, along with speaking gently on the personal journey that Vincent is finding himself on, with space provided for us to sit alongside him as he sits and sings. It's a beautiful, sombre yet positive traversal of the inner self, all expressed with the excellence that we associate with Vincent by this point, and on that note lets take a dive into this superb piece of music, and who knows, maybe you will find a little bit of yourself within the tones being expressed.....

Up first comes 'If I Was Your Lover', and this one begins with the kicks and snares to get us going. Vincent's voice chimes in soon after, accompanied with a deep bass line, and the two elements transpose one another beautifully, with his voice speaking clearly and elegantly above the sub foundations, and just like that we get our first flourish. With the second time of singing 'if I was your lover', the track explodes into life with additional pads, guitar and vocal lines, as the track expands both physically and emotionally, like the swells of the heart or the fluctuations that occur with our mind as we imagine. The track continues on adding new sequences into the mix, with the blends between the choruses and the verses something to behold, as Vincent commands the elements underneath him to rise up and speak as one, a unison that we feel deep inside, our inner self rising to the occasion as we ride alongside Vincent in his emotionally charged journey. Beautiful stuff. 'Radio Silence' arrives next, and this one begins with the key sweeps to get us going. The crescendos go through a few times before disappearing, and after a short quiet moment, the vocals and the bass come into view, this time Vincent's voice is less emphatic and more subdued, waiting patiently to invite us in, like a tentativeness which will reveal all at some point soon. His voice does however encourage a quiet but very effective density swell within the instrumentals, which grows into this incredible ensemble feel during the chorus, when the feelings of the track are really laid bare. Vincent talks about the cold shoulder he receives from a friend or a lover, and how this leaves him isolated within the hums and fuzz of the silence, but that silence is filled to the brim with his reaction, draping the world in colour and melody. This one will have you coming back time and time again.

'Saving Face' comes next, and this one begins with the singular note to get us going. This anchor point provides a basis for the pads, clicks and drums to come into view, and before long we are joined by Vincent's voice, which comes in a bit higher than the last one, as if he has something to say in person, and the message is loud and clear. Again the movements between the various sequences is masterfully done, as we swing from one structure to the next with a dazzling effectiveness, like we are being held up by the undercurrent of emotion. The track continues onwards in this trajectory, floating along as it swims around the soul, filling us up with a spectrum of vitality that spills over into another world entirely. 'Bella Noche' comes next, and this one begins with the guitar chords to get us going. Their simmering placement flickers through the blinds on a warm summer's day, and as we turn our heads we see Vincent looking out towards the light, with strings placing themselves within the backdrop as the vocals move along like writing in a book. The visual narrative that presents itself is jaw dropping, with these little key flourishes occurring in the backdrop that merge with Vincent's voice so effectively, as backing voices push the story right to the surface with guitar sweeps adding further to the mix. Vincent then goes off on a purely emotional tangent, his voice rising higher and higher as the backing lines of 'just be honest with me' cut right to the bone, as we feel the anguish and yet the hope converge in the most brilliant of ways. To wrap things up, we have 'Blue', and this one begins with a particularly intriguing blend of sounds to get things going. The muted guitar strings swim through the middle as distant synths move in and around the background, as strings wail on both sides of the pan, and with the stage set we see Vincent's voice come into view, which helps to bind it all together with purpose and grace. The rising feels found within the choruses, when Vincent's high tones mingle with the backing oohs and strings, is such an incredible blend of melodic elements, and showcases to us his vision of conveying emotion through a plethora of channels. It's a fitting end to a record that contains so much to celebrate and point out, and that only comes from the intriguing way that Vincent brings it all together. Power, grace and emotion mingled together within a force of nature kind of progression, and it all just leaves a powerful mark on the mind.

It can be sometimes tricky to display all the moods that are going on inside on a single EP, but for some musicians they remain highly capable of capturing all that they see and feel inside with such effortlessness that the music feels like it resides very much between two worlds. Marshall Vincent has been providing such vibrations for some time now, and on his latest piece of music, we feel his vision come to its absolute peak, with five tracks that convey moods on all levels. It's mesmerising to experience his music, with all facets of the composition interplaying with one another, as if they are a flock of birds in total unison, mirroring one another and free flowing in the winds, and this is exactly the kind of progression that Vincent captures so beautifully. The instrumentals flow like water, transitioning between a cascade and then to a trickle, moving between densities that mimic our own thoughts and feelings as his voice rides the crest of it all. Vincent talked about how the transitions in his tracks reflect his need to put himself back together again, and when you listen to the music with this in mind you really get a sense of the momentums and movements between differing structures, like when you turn a page in a gripping novella and the mood shifts, the climaxes peak and the intensity either flourishes or diminishes. To have such control over the listener as they glide through your music is such a gift, and Marshall Vincent has earned that captivation through his sheer brilliance. Intriguing would be putting it lightly, more like we will continue to revisit this record for a long time yet. Sublime, in every sense of the word.

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