Where Punish, Honey had Vessel twisting the sounds of 90s rave music into strange and brutal shapes, on Queen of Golden Dogs he's turned his sights to chamber music. To create its uncompromising mixture of mashed up cellos, violins, and pianos, Vessel spend 18 months alone in Wales where he was able to explore the whole gamut of human emotion.
Vinyl LP £19.99 TRI046LP-C1
Golden orange coloured vinyl LP on Tri Angle.
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It’s been four years since we last got an album from Vessel. Sebastian Gainsborough could quite easily have worked in a similar mode to previous albums ‘Order Of Noise’ and ‘Punish, Honey’, and I’m pretty sure he’d still have made a great album. If you’re familiar with his work, then erase what you think you know about Vessel and those Tri Angle albums, because in the four years that have elapsed since his last LP he’s clearly not content in rehashing any winning formula. You can tell he’s really evolved as an artist in that interim, opened the curtains and let some light into his sound. Apparently created over a period of eighteen months in isolation in rural Wales, it’s a meticulously constructed and intricately produced album exploding with colour, depth and emotion. Some of the musical styles he incorporates into his electronic music sound almost baroque, classical or even medieval - something that on paper you would imagine wouldn’t work…. sounds like it would be some hideous abomination, that if someone described to me, I’d probably projectile vomit in their face. But the execution and incorporation of these disparate influences is masterful. It’s like salted caramel - who’d have thought these two things combined could be so delicious?
‘Fantasma (For Jasmine)’ opens with dramatic strings and unfolds into a joyous carnival of what sounds like aliens playing alien bagpipes over AFX style drums. The spectral ‘Good Animal (For Hannah)’ seems to eerily hover somewhere just out of grasp. ‘Argo (For Maggie)’ begins with cinematic strings and proceeds to explode into a glorious starburst of colour, with traces of the ecstatic energy of Lorenzo Senni’s trance re-visions lurking in there. The drums switch from a tribal groove to thumping techno and back while multiple melodies seem to overlap as they interact with each other in a way that’s dense but never messy. ‘Zahir (For Eleanor)’ is like some mutant soul/folk ballad from another space and time. ‘Arcanum (For Christalla)’ is like some sort of ceremonial harpsichord piece discovered in a reverse time capsule. ‘Glory Glory (For Tippi)’ brings back the ecstatic energy - imagine the ballroom scenes from Kubrick’s ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ kicked off into a rave with dancers in elaborate period outfits and strange spooky masks all getting down to twanging basslines, crashing drums, fizzing synths and deconstructed trance motifs. ‘Torno-me Eles E Nau-e (For Remedios)’ uses gorgeous female vocal harmonies to elicit what sounds like a sacred devotional song or prayer. Then ‘Paplu (Love That Moves the Sun)’ seems to take most of the elements heard scattered through previous tracks and combines them into an upbeat psychedelic party slayer that twists and turns with a jubilant bassline, lush melodies, infectious claps and so on. It zips and bounces all over the place like a child that’s gobbled ten packs of Skittles - exploding with intense euphoria and optimism.
The way Queen of Golden Dogs takes so many styles and joins them together into something so cohesive is just wonderful. One of the most original albums I’ve heard in some time, and fresher than a lemon scented wet wipe.
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