Vessels - Dilate - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Vessels - Dilate

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:7.5 Release Date:2015-03-24

Leeds quintet Vessels occupy a space somewhere between post-rock and electronic, having moved away from the former over the years, and Dilate finds them firmly in the realm of the technological, with generally good results, outside of a handful of minor missteps.

The album opens with 'Vertical', and it's hard to know what to expect, as it initially sounds like an out-of-balance washing machine. Soon, however, it finds its groove, pulsing and throbbing along in classic four-on-the-floor fashion and establishing what becomes a recurring theme for the album: solid, thumping beats that are reminiscent of fellow English band Underworld.

'Vertical' transitions smoothly into the second track, 'Elliptic', a blissed-out joyride across an ever-changing ocean of synth melodies and bass notes that sound as if they're being pulled out of organ. It gets more assertive halfway through, but ends on a somewhat odd note, switching to a purely percussive finish that seems a bit out of place.

'Echo In' glides a playful, jewel-like melody over a fun, propulsive beat and throws in some spacey sound-effects here and there. Sadly, it is the shortest track on the album, leaving the listener wanting more. It's followed up by the relatively somber, plodding 'As You Are', featuring vocals by guest singer Isolde, whose rich voice seems misused and isn't enough to spice up the song's blandness.

The album picks up steam again with 'Attica', whose heavy synths sound like they're echoing across a virtual landscape, before some noticeably traditional drums pop in and push them into the background. The synths then slowly reassert themselves amid a variety of melodious bleeps, squelches, and percussion, and drive the finale of what becomes a fairly epic tune.

'On Monos' has a muted, pressed rhythm, as though it were passing through a wad of cotton, with lots of deep bass and beats gently bumping along, resulting in something that could fit comfortably on a Washed Out album, albeit with female vocals provided by Snow Fox, who does a fine job, floating like a cloud above the rest of the song, giving it a soft, almost emotional-techno flavor. 'Glass Lake', meanwhile, is a wiry reprise of 'Elliptic', with many of the same elements, although it drops the beat and goes semi-ambient (think crickets piloting tiny UFOs) before rebuilding itself with a new structure and then drifting off.

'On Your Own Ten Toes' is a nice way to wrap up the album, bringing back influences from a number of previous tracks and tying them all together, then throwing it all aside and ending with lots of droning pads and thick bass. With Dilate, Vessels haven't gone all the way to the dancefloor. Instead, they've stopped halfway to the chillout room, creating an album that's pleasant and varied enough to stand up to multiple listens.

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