Friday, January 7, 2011
[press release] There’s much to be said for the significance of a name. A picture might well paint a thousand words, but chances are they’ll always be prefixed by whatever the artist has chosen to call their latest work. The same is true of albums, records, a bunch of tracks in a shuffle-ready sequence (hi, iPod users). And by calling their second studio long-player Helioscope (due out March 21st in the UK), Leeds-based five-piece Vessels have dropped a hint as to its content.
Recorded with Grammy-nominated producer John Congleton (Explosions in the Sky, This Will Destroy You, Modest Mouse) in the heat of the Texan summer, these nine tracks are the sun-scorched yin to the yang of the snow-capped peaks of Vessels’ debut of 2008, White Fields & Open Devices. Where its predecessor was a studied exercise in structure which played many a post-rock trump card, this collection sings with a newfound freeness and looseness. That’s not to say these arrangements are rough-of-edge, or shabby of design. Far from it: these motifs and melodies are cunningly crafted, burrowing deep into the synapses with little resistance; riffs and rhythms tap into some innate appreciation of music both intuitive and intellectual.
The build-and-break dynamics executed effortlessly on White Fields… are present, again – but complemented by a greater appreciation of technology, of the possibilities afforded by the modern recording process. Beats and loops aren’t restricted to the margins, instead as vital to the mix as anything deemed “organic”. It rocks, Helioscope, sure. But only those with two left feet and tinnitus couldn’t dance to many of its cuts, too. And that’s the point. While their debut was a feeler, a toe in the water, this is a dive into the deep end. Nothing off limits. All ideas welcomed. Happy accidents present and correct, not that anyone but those responsible for them would notice.
If its opening moments punish, fear not – for when the dazzling thunder of ‘Monoform’ and ‘The Trap’ has dissipated, the band looks to the clear skies and points towards the stars for ‘Recur’. Yes, those are vocals. No, Vessels aren’t a purely instrumental proposition. And you’re right, it works really rather well, doesn’t it? As Tom Evans and Lee Malcolm trade lyrics, guitars chime with a celestial resonance. ‘Art/Choke’ is the heaviest track to date by the band, with Martin Teff’s enormous bass tearing over Tim Mitchell’s cross-rhythms.
Guest Stuart Warwick’s (formerly known as Jacob’s Stories) haunting lead vocal on first single ‘Meatman, Piano Tuner, Prostitute’ takes the band closer to a composition which could be called mainstream – but with a title like that, it’s obvious that crossover isn’t the clearest vision in their crystal ball.
And they’re all the better for it, Vessels. Helioscope is an album that sings with singular tone, which imprints itself like bleached-out blurs on the retinas of those who can’t quit looking up. Rightly so – looking down is cold, dark, miserable. So what’s in a name? Here, heat and passion, as perfectly realized as the light that guides us all come every dawn.
Formed in 2005, Vessels are Peter Wright (guitar, vocals, keys, bass), Tim Mitchell (drums, beats), Martin Teff (guitar, bass), Lee J. Malcolm (guitar, vocals, drums, electronics) and Tom Evans (guitar, vocals, synths).
Vessels will tour much of 2011 throughout Europe, the UK and Ireland dates are below.
Sun 20 February - The Duchess, YORK (with Stuart Warwick)
Mon 21 February - The Captain’s Rest, GLASGOW (with Stuart Warwick)
Tue 22 February - The Lemon Tree, ABERDEEN (with Stuart Warwick & Debutant)
Wed 23 February - Hustlers, DUNDEE
Thu 24 February - Speakeasy, BELFAST (with Casper Rosa Midnight)
Fri 25 February - The Workman’s Club, DUBLIN, Ireland (with Stuart Warwick & Enemies)
Sat 26 February - The Quad, CORK, Ireland (with Stuart Warwick)
Mon 28 February - The Harley, SHEFFIELD (with Stuart Warwick and Emphemetry)
Tue 1 March - Academy 3, MANCHESTER (with Stuart Warwick)
Wed 2 March - The Borderline, LONDON (with Stuart Warwick)
Thu 3 March - Jam, BRIGHTON (with Stuart Warwick)
Fri 4 March - The Haymakers, CAMBRIDGE
Sat 5 March - British Wildlife Festival, Brudenell Social Club, LEEDS (with Kong & Three Trapped Tigers)
2. The Trap
4. Later Than You Think
5. Meatman, Piano Tuner, Prostitute
8. All Our Ends
9. Spun Infinite
The Leeds-based rock band have just released a stunning live rendition of 'The Trap' from Helioscope, so you can get an idea of what to expect live. See the video below.
The first single to be taken from the album, 'Meatman, Piano Tuner, Prostitute' was released in November and features the guest vocals of Stuart Warwick. You can see the beautiful video, directed by Kira Zhigalina, of the radio edit below. Warwick is accompanying the band on tour to perform the single and will also play his own material as support at most of the shows.
Hear the full version of 'Meatman' and get a free download of b-side 'Ornafives' at the band's website.
Posted by Dan Goldin at 7:15 PM