vessels

There is a point in every post-rock-branded band’s life where they reach a fork in the road: go left and forever be set aside the anthemic guitar churn of Godspeed! You Black Emperor and Mogwai or head right and join the pulsating electronica of 65daysofstatic and Errors’.

Choose the latter and the temptation is to modify the loud-quiet-loud dynamics to Richter-scale levels in a hefty fusion of Ohms and (guitar) amps colliding on even bigger walls of sound. Thankfully, though, the reality is often a lot smarter than that. We heard it relatively recently on the patience and panorama of 65dos’ ‘Wild Light’ as their dabbles with more beat-heavy electronica struck a cinematic balance, and Vessels are on a similarly successful tangent.

Moving away from the overt post-rock foundations of second album ‘Helioscope’, the danceable dynamics and sonics on ‘Dilate’ resonate with focused heft and power. It’s still an album capable of cranking through the volume but the raw, simmering fury and bouts of punchy percussion has given way to sustained intensity.

Opener ‘Vertical’ is a prime example. Brilliantly insistent, it builds with trance-like purpose, weighed down by growling low frequencies that oscillate with dark, Monastic euphoria. It’s a compelling, untamed salvo that’s almost as if it had to be released to let the rest of ‘Dilate’ settle. Whatever the reasoning, you won’t hear many better openers this year.

Elsewhere, ‘Attica’ drops a depth charge of dissonance, its static anger carving through an electronic storm of noise before the busy percussion and Snow Fox’s hacked vocals slowly pull ‘On Monos’ into anthemic focus. It’s a breadth of style further evidenced by the swimming melodies of ‘Echo In’ and the deep, dub crawl of ‘As You Are’. Where the former is a gorgeous blend of off-beat percussion and a soft, soulful bloom of down-tempo electronica, the latter reinforces Vessels’ aptitude for smouldering, sultry vocals and subterranean rhythms.

At the back end, ‘Glass Lake’ starts by channeling the spirit of Four Tet’s ‘Rounds’ before growing into a swirling, celestial odyssey that sets up closer, ‘On Your Own Ten Toes’ to bring ‘Dilate’ to a fitting climax. A beautiful combination of beat-driven sensibility and deftness of arrangement, a stilted opening quickly gathers pace before clanging piano chords add weight to tumbling electronica that poignantly fades to black. An album of real poise, hopefully it’s a promise of things to come.

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