Even in 2011, it's pretty much a given that any band either proclaiming or inadvertently earning an a affiliation with the term 'post-rock', will instantly conjure an association with either Explosions In The Sky, or Mogwai. Ok, so it's maybe not always the case and perhaps not ONLY those two bands, but it's not far off. However, any band worth their salt that wishes to scale similar heights will almost always try to fly their own flag.
If you want to keep things simple, Helioscope, the second album from Leeds quintet Vessels, should be filed in the post-rock section along with Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. If you want to be accurate, however, then there's some explaining to do. Vessels are fond of the stirring (and often unsubtle) dynamic shifts that the aforementioned groups pioneered, but their bombing runs aren't deployed in quite the same manner.
My dad once said to me, “There are two types of people in this world, those who like jazz and those who love it.” Initially bewildered, since I knew a handful of people that absolutely hated it, I eventually understood that my father was one of those people who appreciated the architecture of music and couldn’t fathom people who didn’t. Obviously Vessels would never be placed in a jazz category, but the band’s post-rock instrumental structure is comparable to jazz simply because you can’t exactly predict where it’s going, and some people have a hard time warming up to that concept. Thankfully, I’m not one of those people.
A band who remain a hugely promising proposition. Although technically impressive, and certainly more interesting than the legions of pale Explosions In The Sky clones currently saturating the post-rock genre, there’s always been something strangely clinical about Vessels and this, their second full-length, does little to alter that perception. Perhaps it’s the pristine production job, which buffs every layer to a disconcertingly perfect shine, or perhaps it’s just that, for all the structural twists that tracks like serpentine opener ‘Monoform’ take, this is essentially a rehash of the band’s debut record, but it’s difficult to escape the feeling that much of ‘Helioscope’ simply represents a detached exercise in studio trickery and rhythmic intricacy.
An immense, intense album from the Leeds five-piece. Mischa Pearlman 2011 Devised in the early 17th century, a helioscope allowed whoever was using it to stare – indirectly – right at the sun, by projecting an image of it through a telescope onto a white piece of paper suspended in a dark room. Some 300 years later, Leeds-based five-piece Vessels have created their very own aural version.