sun 07/03/2021

CD: Vessel - Punish, Honey | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Vessel - Punish, Honey

CD: Vessel - Punish, Honey

Bristol techno producer turns in a gothic-folk-industrial nightmare

Aside from the title track, there are pieces here called “Febrile,” “Red Sex,” “Drowned in Water and Light,” “Kin to Coal.” You might not be surprised to learn, then, that this is not a set of jaunty singalongs. But neither is it the techno the young Bristol producer has become known for, either.

Aside from the title track, there are pieces here called “Febrile,” “Red Sex,” “Drowned in Water and Light,” “Kin to Coal.” You might not be surprised to learn, then, that this is not a set of jaunty singalongs. But neither is it the techno the young Bristol producer has become known for, either. If you wanted the point hammered home that this isn't an easily accessible record, the sub-two-minute opener “Febrile” appears to be an improvised jam between death metal drummer, road drill and police siren, punctuated with long silences, while the following instrumental “Red Sex” is a seasick gothic-industrial vaudeville chug, buzzing machines pitchbent all over the place.

The overall feel is of a fevered nightmare, with whirring hurdy-gurdy like sounds wheezing out medieval sounding melodies as the mechanical and theatrical collide around them in cyclical swoops, crashes and ambient interludes. It is apparently a concept album about the English character, and it's certainly not hard to hear what Alan Moore called “the free-associating stone subconscious”, the repressed undercurrents of a nation bubbling out. There are echoes of other delvers into this subconscious: of Pink Floyd, of Coil, of Marc Almond, of Kate Bush, but this is a unique vision nonetheless.

As befits a musicians who's come up alongside the techno, grime and dub musicians of Bristol's alternative club scene – Vessel is part of the hugely lauded Young Echo collective – this is about bodily and instinctive impact before it's about the concept. So while, no, it's not a cheeky singalong, and it's certainly not one to add levity to your life, it is a pretty startling achievement, and if you like records that leave you feeling deeply weird and uncertain about life in general and your own sanity in particular at the end of a listen, then it comes highly recommended.

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