Words: Simon Opie
So far this year there has been a lot of new post-rock about. Latest releases from ...Trail Of Dead, The Rock Of Travolta and the mighty Mogwai have all been reviewed here. In addition, Grails have just released a new album – the excellent 'Deep Politics'; Earth, the Godfathers of post-rock, gained mainstream approval for their weakest album for some time; and maybe the best of all is the Sonic Youth soundtrack to the movie 'Simon Werner A Disparu'.
'Helioscope' is the second album from Leeds based five-piece Vessels and it enters the crowded post-rock arena with all guns blazing. Their sound is built on the taut but always expressive drumming of Tim Mitchell – in much the same way that Radiohead rely on Phil Selway – and they mix math rock forms with almost dance music melodies and ethereal vocals.
'Monoform' is a great opener and lays down pretty much the range of their sound. 'The Trap' follows and steps up the energy – it’s a really great song. Then the album wanders a bit – I don’t find the melody lines that convincing in several of the tracks - notably the significantly Radiohead-influenced 'Meatman, Piano Tuner, Prostitute' with guest vocalist Stuart Warwick, and the weak closer 'Spun Infinite'.
That’s not to say the record is not well done – it is – but in following the tendency of nearly all the albums mentioned above whereby the rock in post-rock is offset by some more fragile element – cello, violin, voice – the risk is to lose focus. Maybe it’s a matter of taste and certainly this album is always interesting, but I think post-rock should be always challenging.
The Sonic Youth soundtrack album is a master class in exactly how to pull all the pieces together to create beautiful music without compromise. But then again, they have had thirty years of practice.
MP3 DOWNLOAD: The Trap by Vessels
STREAM: Meatman, Piano Tuner, Prostitute (feat. Stuart Warwick) by Vessels
Purchase 'Helioscope' at your local record store, Amazon.co.uk, iTunes etc.