Five years on from his acclaimed debut album, Tom Vek is back.
The self-taught recording artistâs process and musical output is loaded with cryptic contradictions; his scrappy, chopped-up, beat rock sounds are housed in contrasting clean and precise artwork; this new eraâs trademark, the obsessively refined pair of British made Anglo American glasses, sit unworn on the cover of the focused new 12-track album. Even its title, Leisure Seizure, is an intriguing juxtaposition.
Vek spontaneously released his first album just as the digital age was dawning, guest starred on The O.C. and then disappeared. British-born, his references are rooted in American culture, ranging from mid 90s alt-rock, cable access TV shows and post-war fiction. Raised in south-west London, Vek originally trained in graphic design at Central Saint Martinâs. During this time he wrote and recorded his debut album, We Have Sound. The album was released on the cusp of the information age with social-networking sites such as MySpace enabling anyone to release their music into the public domain, and artists being able to document their every thought and move. Just as everyone began registering online, Vek successfully created a mysterious persona. After a five-year disconnection, the artist returns with Leisure Seizure, released 6th June 2011 on Island Records.
Following the justification of his debut albumâs reception, Vek wanted to fulfil the idea of a âmulti-faceted individualâ and remain in complete control of his creative output. An artist with a unique and singular vision, Vek has a systematic way of working. The second albumâs creation was two-fold: a 3 year set-up period followed by a 2 year stretch of musical output. A process encapsulated up in the albumâs title, Leisure Seizure. Pragmatic and enthusiastic about the âmechanicsâ of making music, Vek found a suitable studio space in east London, and set up PALLET Recording Studio (which also took on a double life, shaping the sound of underground Dalston as the venue for his friend Rory Atwellâs productions). Vek procured new equipment â including the customised, concisely equipped mixing desk, lushly yet ironically presented in the albumâs sleeve notes â and taught himself new production skills. With a framework in place, he was ready to begin recording â a phase he describes as âunashamed creativityâ. Any scrutiny beyond this point would mean the all-important cryptic nature of the Tom Vek brand would be missing.
The first single, A Chore (released 18 April 2011) is accompanied by a concept video, which acknowledges the artistâs five-year absence. Having been out of the public eye for so long, Vek takes the role of presenter of T.V. Island, a self-imagined American cable show that references Glenn OâBrienâs cult TV Party and BBCâs Desert Island Discs. Whereas guests on the BBC radio show are asked to imagine themselves stranded on a metaphorical island for an hour, Vek acknowledges his long absence it its entirety. Characteristically wry, sarcastic and mischievous, the song and video are a fitting analogy â five years on, the perfect desert island isnât the place one first imagined.
Vekâs debut album was spontaneous â in both its release and its sound. Leisure Seizure is a distinct development; a more controlled, consistent and elaborated version of the unique, raw sound of We Have Sound that intrigued and captivated its audience. The formula remains the same: Vek begins with an unusual noise or recording and develops the track from there, with the final process an objective and sensitive co-production from Tom Rixton and Liam Howe. Equally engaging, Leisure Seizure typifies Vekâs self-coined beat rock. Music that is engaging with an emphasis on groove and cryptic angular statements. A sound that doesnât slot into or borrow from current nor nostalgic musical movements. Working as a solo, multi-instrumentalist means there is never any obligation to use an instrument that isnât absolutely necessary.
Five years on, the mystery ends. Satisfied and excited about the release of his second album, Vek is looking forward to a period of open experimentation, collaboration and starting with one of his own (A Chore re-edit) producing remixes for the first time.
Leisure Seizure 2011