Bristol’s Seb Gainsborough’s dark electronic work as Vessel
skitters by on unexpected sound choices, though there’s not much shocking about the resulting material. Gainsborough’s music works out like a game of Three-card Monte, its eccentric blend of industrial grit, ethereal vocal samples, and dubstep sub-bass scuttling between the stations. At its best, Vessel’s debut LP for Tri-Angle, Order of Noise
makes you cock your head and wonder why you’d never heard that particular high-end squonk used in the place where a low-end splomp would usually go, the cards moving too fast to pick out the placement. At worst, Gainsborough’s reliance on the value of shifting cards seems to trump what the cards actually are, and the fact that those three cards aren’t ever leaving your sight.
As the simple pattern of clanging metallics, cooing female vocals, and sub-bass mysticism rolls across “Stillborn Dub”, Gainsborough fiddles with feedback and synth percussion, keeping things fluid, intriguing. The core of “Silten” is similarly shrouded in rainy darkness, wheezing white noise haunting the track’s plinking synths and shuffling percussion. The intermittent use of an unidentifiable scraping roar adds to the effective mystique.
Tracks like “Lache”, on the other hand, never get past the point of repetitious bubbling, the ping-ponging synths losing their novel appeal as each iteration stutters ahead. Each successive layer works like another shuffling of the cards, though things never quite get to the paranoid, claustrophobic heights that they’re aiming towards.
When the screeching ”Scarletta” filters between crackling feedback, simple percussion, and chopped vocal samples, it’s as if Gainsborough’s hands are back at quick work, the cards barely visible on the table. When slowed and spread out, the fact that there are just three cards on the table becomes immediately apparent. Sure, they’re pretty interesting cards, but watching a master flip them around is half the fun.
Essential Tracks: “Stillborn Dub”, “Silten”