Queen of Golden Dogs -the third album from Vessel- was conceived, developed and rendered into life over eighteen months of solitude in rural Wales. In essence, it is an exploration of living a life devoted to uncertainty, curiosity and change.
Influenced by a range of writers, the painter Remedios Varo, and a new love, the album is a marked departure from Vessel's previous work. The world of QoGD is saturated with colour; oscillating between grief, bombast and fierce joy, this is music shot through with both sincerity and irreverence.
Whilst traces of his sonic signature remain, there is much changed since Vessel's second album, Punish, Honey. An infatuation with chamber music brought about in collaboration with his violinist lover, and a voice given by singer Olivia Chaney leave strong impressions, providing landmarks in a world that is essentially about the joys of difference.
'Fantasma', a prologue of sorts, careens from bent cello to blunt force percussion and billowing synthesisers, dispersing into the harmonically restless lament of 'Good Animal', providing the album with the first of it’s many purposefully uncomfortable segues. Ideas of transformation are regularly explored internally within individual pieces, as well as across the album as a whole, dominated by unpredictable shifts in tone. The probing string swells of 'Argo' give way to throbbing bass and slippery rhythms, which twist briefly into an almost pop leaning chorus before a barrage of fuzzy drums lead to one of the albums most straightforwardly techno moments. The layered voices of 'Torno-me eles e nau-eu' offer the most overt example of Vessel’s move towards classical forms. Using chromaticism, dissonance and sweetness, he explores a space that seemingly refuses to resolve, although eventually revealing itself as an extended reflection of album centrepiece, 'Paplu'.
I wanted to make this work to realise experiences that I thought I had already had. Quite quickly I realised that I was reaching too far; and because I wanted so much more I had to give more. I often think that the writing was mutual. - Vessel
‘Punish, Honey’ the follow up to Vessel’s critically acclaimed debut album ‘Order of Noise’ finds the always unpredictable Bristol based producer continuing to challenge himself and listeners alike. Wishing to move away from working with archetypal electronic sounds, with ‘Punish, Honey’ Vessel sought to create something that felt more organic even if the sounds themselves didn’t always feel inherently organic. That lessening interest in electronic sounds was concurrent with a burgeoning interest in natural sounds, in particular, how the physical body has a direct effect on the nature of the sound, whether it be harsh or pure, messy, violent, seductive, or strange. Using sheets of metal as percussion, sawing up bikes to make flutes and creating harmonic guitars all by his own hand, Vessel created his own set of crude instrumentation exclusively for this record. Combined with an interest in notions of national identity, Vessel asking himself the question ‘What does ‘Englishness’ in music really mean?’ ‘Punish, Honey’ is an uncompromising and dizzying experience. Traversing the queasy glam stomp pf ‘Red Sex’, the chugging, cinematic soundscapes of ‘Anima’ and the medieval industrial tones of ‘Euoi’, ‘Punish, Honey’ is the by-product of an artist striving to create his own unique lane.
In the past, trying to pin down Vessel's constantly evolving sound has never been an easy task and with the release of his debut album it's become a whole lot harder. In the past 12 months, Vessel, AKA 22-year-old Sebastian Gainsborough, has been introducing people to his sound via a series of 12" releases on a number of forward thinking underground labels with each release confounding the expectations of those trying to get a grasp on what exactly he was doing. Order of Noise is the culmination of his first exploratory steps as an artist, and the album Tri Angle Records believed Vessel was building up to. It signals the arrival of an innovative and intensely unique, young, electronic producer who has developed a sound that still has the potential to confuse and confound, but one that is now identifiable as being very much his own.
Using techno and house as a jumping off point, Vessel manages to twist these things into something unconventional and alien, often creating music that sounds as if it's rhythmically out of control when in fact it's all tightly controlled chaos. It's a testament to Vessel's talent how he manages to rein all his ideas and sound in with so much thoughtful precision.