The main difference in the development of Leeds five piece from 2011’s Helioscope is their seeming embracing of electronica which has replaced their penchant for post-rock for new album Dilate, out now through PIAS. And while their debut was an album that showed interest and no little ambition, Dilate – with its various nods at Four Tet and that ilk, sees that ambition realised with an album of complexity, beauty and atmosphere.
The warm throb of opener Vertical sets the scene for the whole record, as it flits between its pulsating underbelly and this cut up vocal thats repeated ad-well, if not quite infinitum, certainly for the large part of the five and something minutes, as layers of synth are added in the vicinity. Its follow on Elliptic that really sparkles, nearly nine minutes of glorious wispy electronica, which carries the melody along at various times in the bassline, these ghostly shards of vocal adding very little to the texture other than a slight eeriness.
Moving on, Echo in sees the band on the front foot with the driving rhythm and slight electronic anxiety being brought to bear, while As you Are which features vocals from Isolde sees Vessels luxuriate in the soft, warm blanket of sound they create. The peaks and troughs of Attica lead into the other vocal track on the album, On Monos featuring Snow Fox. It’s more of a straight forward track, and is certainly dancefloor friendly, but doesn’t have the intimacy of some of the others, although it makes up for it with the melody.
Dilate isn’t revolutionary, although it’s fairly revolutionary for Vessels. They’ve kept the post-rock blueprint intact, its just that they’ve hung their hugely attractive electronica over the top of it, somkething akin to Mogwai’s recent efforts, and made something that is interesting, engaging and well worth investing time in.