Vessels third album, Dilate marked a sea change for the Leeds band, being the conclusion of the quintet's journey from melodic/discordant post rock (As per their 2008 début White Fields And Open Devices) and the evolved hybrid of psychedelia and minimalist programming (On its 2011 follow up, Helioscope).
At the time it was clear that the exercise had been a considered sequence of subtle integrations, the succumbing to of their passion for the flourishes of electronica gradually replacing the fragmented words and greater intricacies of their old world. This sounds like a recipe for alienating old fans, but in interview the band's Tim Mitchell and Tom Evans simply confessed that musically "The same reference points are there...but the goalposts have shifted".
Dilate wasn't a final destination then, nor is it now: die-hards however will still feel that sense of either elation or dread at the mechanized thump of opener Vertical's intro, much as they'll welcome or reject again the patchwork of drones and undulating rhythms which make up the track's pulsing main body.
Continue reading: Vessels - Dilate [Special Edition] Album Review
Aside from being the band's third full-length release, 'Dilate' marks Vessels tenth year since their inception. In these ten years as a band, Vessels have developed their style from a distinctly compelling brand of post-rock into wider, more electronic territory. In doing so, Vessel's fresh use of experimentation has bought them a small cult following. Their 2008 debut 'White Fields and Open Devices' displays the band's great knack for building sparse musical landscapes and pushing their songs into climaxes that manage to remain both heavy and successfully affecting, echoing some older post-rock bands like Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
Vessels use complex layers of sounds, borrowing heavily from the dissonant chords and irregular time sequences typical to math-rock. More recently though, and particularly on 'Dilate', the electronic layers to these complex songs have taken more of a central role. Members of the band are more likely to be seen twiddling with keyboards and synthesisers now than thrashing into each other with guitars. However, the songs themselves are no less insightful, nor are the sonic environments they evoke.
Opening track 'Vertical' builds gradually with warm bass and vocal samples reminiscent of acts like Burial and Four Tet. Slowly, layers of synth move between each other into a resonance of ambient noises, vast keyboard melodies push the track in and out of changing drum sections. 'Elliptic' seems to land somewhere closer to the band's earlier sound, soaring off and building back into something more cinematic and commanding. More now than before, Vessels focus on rhythm in their instrumentation, in doing so they push themselves into ground that is not necessarily limited to the boundaries of the profound and dramatic instrumental rock they have found themselves attributed with. Vessels wear influences from further afield than ever, even including African drums towards the track's end.
Continue reading: Vessels - Dilate Album Review
While post-rock hasn't really recovered from the backlash it's taken in recent years, most of its protagonists have moved on to better, sparser pastures in search of more fulfilling new horizons. Mogwai's 'Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will' heralded their most adventurous collection of recordings in a decade, and for Leeds five-piece Vessels 'Helioscope' represents a similar shape shift that has more in common with the recent works of people like Radiohead than any formulaic stop-start, low-fast templated band of THAT afflicted genre.
Continue reading: Vessels, Helioscope Album Review
Vessels return with a new album and single. Their album - titled 'Helioscope' - is set for release in February 2011 through Cuckundoo Records; but if you can't wait until then the band will release the first single Meatman, Piano Tuner, Prostitute on November 8th 2010.
To say that 'White Fields and Open Devices' is an eagerly anticipated release is something of an understatement. If the Leeds Society for Experimental and Progressive Rock Music produced a calendar, in which every month revealed the pale emaciated nude frame of one of the city's esteemed post-rock captains preserving his dignity with a Crimson Tide or early Genesis LP, if such a society existed, and if they made such a calendar, the release date for this album, whatever it is, would be marked upon it in nothing less than bold italics.
Continue reading: Vessels, White Fields and Open Devices Album Review