Release Date: Mar 3, 2015
Record label: Bias
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
There’s a lot to be said for taking one’s time over things that one truly believes in. Many an artist has emerged from the studio after what, to fans, has seemed an eternity, only to deliver their most convincing effort to date. Many listeners to the last Vessels release – 2013’s Elliptic EP – will have become supremely confident that the long-awaited full-length follow-up to 2011’s Helioscope would be a triumph.
On Dilate, Vessels show off their flair for different kinds of musical peaks, whether they're dance music's ecstatic highs or post-rock's majestic climaxes. Bridging the gap between these styles is nothing new for the band, but they do it more seamlessly than ever before. On songs such as the nearly nine-minute-long "Elliptic," an aptly named journey through a gently orbiting melody and percussion that morphs from electronic to live drums, Dilate traces wide-ranging arcs that are subtly propulsive, suggesting a less showy Fuck Buttons.
With the release of the Elliptic EP in 2013, Leeds five-piece Vessels gave their fans a long-awaited glimpse into the direction they would be heading in for their third album. Moving away from the guitars that were present on their earlier records, the EP suggested that the band would be focusing largely on electronics. It also appeared to strip back some of the many layers of sound that graced their last record, 2011’s Helioscope.
However eclectic their output to date, very few fans of Leeds’ Vessels could probably have seen this album coming. Hinted at by their set at 2013’s inaugural ArcTanGent Festival where there was only a single guitar on stage, the band were deliberately making a statement - going to the new adopted home of post-rock and refusing to play any of their older, post-rock material, debuting instead a lean techno-inflected electronic pulse. Kraftwerk with a teenhood of playing in math bands and listening to Massive Attack on headphones after dark, their new direction was a surprise at first.
You may remember Vessels as an up-and-coming bunch of lads with a penchant for the post-rock genre. They’ve been away a while, and in that time the post-rock pretensions have faded, replaced with a newfound focus on electronic doohickery. Helioscope, released way back in 2011, has become one of my favourite records to sink into, but Dilate is an altogether altered beast.
When Leeds quintet Vessels released the Elliptic EP in the closing overs of 2013, the shift in musical direction was obvious. Gone were the guitar explorations that owed more than a passing nod to the combustible extremities of Explosions In The Sky, and in their place were electronic textures that were a sure sign of what was to come. The gap between the release of that EP, punctuated by the download-only single, On Monos, and the arrival of Dilate would suggest that the band were either dipping their toes into new waters, working hard on expanding that sound, or hampered by budgetary constraints.