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Cork, Ireland
An Irish based alternative music blog. Music news, gigs, live reviews, album reviews... You'll find them here. If you want anything featured or removed, please shout. I hope you'll discover something new to love on this little experiment of mine. Currently editing the Music Section of the UCC Express and contributing to Motley magazine on campus, as well as writing for PopCultureMonster and 4FortyFour. Always looking for new projects so please get in touch if interested. Thanks for reading.

Friday, January 7, 2011

What the hell happened to... Tom Vek?

Come one, come all to the first posting of the grand ole year that is 2011. I have been slow off the marks but that's the joys of being a student...

This is going to be the first of what I'm hoping will become a rather regular feature where I track the progress of an act that seemed to have it all going right, only to slide out of view. The regularity will depend upon how many of these acts I can find so if there's anyone you're interested in, please comment below and we can hopefully get around to it all!!

First up, the London-born multi-instrumentalist Thomas Timothy Vernon-Kell: that's Tom Vek to you and I.

In 2005, Vek burst onto the scene with a furious release, We Have Sound. The album incorporated the best of the Rapture (the staccato guitars), LCD Soundsystem (hints of electronica) and even a nod towards Beck. Hailed as one of the best new sounds of the time, support for the album has since abated from even the most hardened Vek fan.

However, the dedicated core fan base has not given up hope. Cryptic messages in April last year suggested that Vek was contemplating retirement from music altogether, only to change tone altogether and indicate that a new album was due for release in June of last year.

Obviously, no such album arrived. In fact, the last remnants of Vek's work that we have are an appearance on the OC and the soundtrack for Grand Theft Auto IV, though the track on the latter was an older b-side, not a new track as is often misperceived.

So - what the hell happened to Tom Vek? And, perhaps even more importantly, why should we care?

Well, unfortunately, I cannot answer the former. We are led to believe that Vek is labouring away under the pressures of following up an immense debut. His life performances often fell flat and his style evolved so much during the period of recording and the immediate term thereafter (as well as numerous shifts between his signing to Tummy Touch in 2001 and his first major single release in 2004) that consistency was a noted difficulty. Writer's block was allegedly behind the bogus claim of retirement, and we have nothing to indicate that this has been resolved.

All major indications are that Vek is a true perfectionist, a genuine artist as such. He worked tirelessly on the debut, rarely settling on a pattern or a sound - it had to be perfect. Is this the problem now? After the highs of C-C (You Set The Fire In Me), I Ain't Saying My Goodbyes and Nothing But Green Lights, is Vek dismissing the demos he is putting together now for the long-awaited sequel?

Who knows? Vek is notoriously difficult to get hold of, while Island Records have all but kept shtum. He is working on a follow up, we have been told over and over. Lord only knows when it may see the light though.

Until then, all we have are the remains of the phenomenal, and often forgotten, debut. In the 5, now nearly 6, years since its release, We Have Sound caused quite a stir, only to be left to fall by the wayside. Contemporaries continued the work ethic and have been remembered more fondly because of it. Yet, the tracks now sound as fresh and vibrant as ever.

In the years since Vek's debut, the dance-indie genre has swarmed. Hot Chip kicked the door in, LCD Soundsystem showed that it could be conducted with artist guile and craft and the pretenders (Metronomy, Cut Copy and damn close to every second band who puts an album out these days!) managed to dent the credibility of the work done by the likes of Vek and the aforementioned duo. Should the genre be examined in depth in the future, We Have Sound is sure to show up as an early peak.

With any luck, though, the fabled second release may drop sooner rather than later. At the moment, we're in Stone Roses territory. Five years between albums? Not ideal, but not the worst... Vek could well delve into Avalanches and Dr. Dre territory (Ten plus years...) before long.

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