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vessel - Order Of Noise
Seb Gainsborough's debut album as Vessel arrives on Tri Angle, immediately expanding what the label stands for even as it reinforces some of its central tenets. But what's important about this splendid record isn't what label it's on, it's the music itself - and we have to say that the Young Echo member has really excelled himself, crafting a nocturnal epic of a depth, breadth and maturity remarkable from one so young. Sculpting a self-contained sound-world largely distinct from anything he's released before, he favours a mood of inscrutable darkness and claustrophobia, yet manages still to be generous with hooks, with meat, with substance. Forget R&B; a rugged dub sensibility and a very British kind of radiophonic whimsy account for the DNA of each track here: at times the album feels closer in spirit to a Mark Stewart or a Cabaret Voltaire than to a Balam Acab or a Holy Other. Highlights? The fractious reggae drift of 'Stillborn Dub' , the Shake-via-Peverelist swing of 'Images Of Bodies', the scuffed sepulchral house of 'Aries', the jerry-built, glass-bowl-accented techno of 'Plane Curves' , the juddering, isolationist funk of 'Temples' and 'Lache' (both of which can stand proud next to recent Actress) - we could go on. Melodically, rhythmically and above all texturally, Vessel resists easy or obvious tropes and strategies, and reinvigorates tired forms, but without falling into obtuseness for its own sake; the result is surely one of this year's most accomplished debuts.