Leeds five piece Vessels have been transforming from man to machine over the past couple of albums.
Initially trading in cinematic post-rock on their debut album White Fields and Open Devices in 2008 and Helioscope three years later, a very different band was presented on their third album, 2015’s excellent Dilate’, where they relied heavily on electronics to augment their sound. This fourth album is the full stylistic transformation from expansive post-rock to full blown electronic act.
Influenced by regular jaunts to either party or DJ or play at techno clubs such as Berghain, The Great Distraction is a techno album, but not the kind of open armed techno to be played loud in dark places to people in various minds states, altered or otherwise.his, despite being highly danceable, is designed to be enjoyed within the confines of your own home, it's a multi-layered, highly complex exercise in sound.
As well as sweaty Berlin nightclubs, emotive techno from the likes of John Talabot from Spain and UK producers Daniel Avery and Jon Hopkins have made a clear impression on the band. Opening track "Mobilise" takes its cue from the work of Hopkins in particular; commencing in a glitch style, the track takes a slow build into a multi-faceted explosion of synth euphoria, almost shoegaze in sound. It's a great opener.
A highly auto-tuned Wayne Coyne from The Flaming Lips' appears on "Deflect the Light" to apply a coating of psychedelic glitter to proceedings, again, showing how well suited his voice is to electronic music (check out the brilliant "The Golden Path" collaboration with The Chemical Brothers). Showing off their impressive list of connections, a synthesized John Grant appears on the insular closer "Erase the Tapes", for a piece of warm electronica so intimate it's almost as if they're snuggling up next to you.
"Radiart" and "Radio Decay" are bassy and nagging excursions into late night dance-floor jacking, again using the slow build approach. When these tracks kick there's no getting away from the fact that the the ideas for them came directly from a really late night up to no good in a nightclub somewhere, but what's particularly interesting is how it's clear their past residency in the Mogwai, Explosions In The Sky et al area of music is totally evident.
The Great Distraction sees Vessels moving almost exclusively into electronic music, but where the album excels is instead of totally dismissing their post-rock past, coming up with a record which is post-rock, just performed electronically. They achieve this with flying colours.