Vessels: Elliptic EP (Cuckundoo Records)
Ltd. edition hand-stamped 12” / DL
Leeds post-rockers Vessels return with an EP in support of live dates, Simon Tucker likes what he hears.
This is Vessels’ first release since their 2012 cover of James Holden’s remix of Nathan Fake’s The Sky Was Pink and it’s been worth the wait. Over the years the band has steadily introduced more and more electronic instrumentation into the mix and this release sees them fully embrace the rhythms and dynamics of dance music whilst still maintaining their live band sound.
Title track Elliptic is eight-plus minutes of delicious DFA House. A solid rhythm anchors the track as ethereal vocals enter and disappear repeatedly in the background. Repetitive keyboard notes add a slightly mournful feel to proceedings, like a cool breeze leading into a trance-like breakdown before the band bursts back in to take us up and up to the tribal rhythms of the outro.
The truly wonderful aspect of this track is Tim Mitchell’s drums. The band could easily have gone all electric and created a decent tune, but at the expense of capturing a band playing together live in the studio. Producer Richard Formby (Spectrum, Wild Beasts, Darkstar) has managed to keep all aspects of this new sound without it overpowering. A fine balancing act indeed and one pulled off with aplomb
On the flip side of the 12” we get a cover version of Modeselektor’s Blue Clouds which is the opening track to the German duo’s third album Monkeytown (Monkeytown Records). Vessels’ version is very faithful to the original, maybe a little TOO faithful at times. Again, it’s the live aspect of this recording that really shines through and if this version introduces more people to the brilliant works of Modeselektor then all power to it.
Good but not essential.
The digital version of this release see three extra tracks including a radio edit of Elliptic and live staples Myopic Biopic and Come Out Of The Sky And Fight This.
Myopic Biopic is a track of great dynamics marrying A Certain Ratio indie-funk with Orbital’s anthemic electronica. It has a real festival-friendly feel that would sound perfect in a muddy field with the sun going down. It’s impossible, when listening, to shake the image out of your head of the sights and smells of smiling, dancing people and campfires.
Come Out… is relentless in its attempts to make people dance and pulls off the neat trick of sounding joyous yet sad at the same time, a feeling many of us can understand.
This EP is the sound of a band slowly taking their first steps in a new direction and giving their fans a little taste of what is to follow, with the certain feeling that if they do commit to this direction they will be getting to that Other Stage headlining slot sooner rather than later.
Bring on the album…