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Boomkat Product Review:
Making a second long-playing appearance on Anticon, Bristol's own Sam Wisternoff sounds like he's settled down a bit, penning a more consistent, coherent album than his charming, but rather scatterbrained Wrong Faced Cat Feed Collapse. There's still an awful lot going on here, but this time around SJ Esau's eccentric electronic folk tapestries are undoubtedly more mature - although song titles like 'I Threw A Wobbly' would suggest otherwise. There's sufficient wit and insight in the musings of Small Vessel to prevent it all from teetering on the verge of triviality: 'Slate' is recorded, and for that matter written, in a style that recalls Syd Barrett's The Madcap Laughs. Clearly Wisternoff feels an affinity with that sort of archetypal British lunacy, although there's really none of the Pink Floyd frontman's darkness on this album, instead, Small Vessel is packed with whimsical detail and colourful arrangements, ranging from the rickety Portastudio rock of 'Frustrating' (this being Anticon, there had to be some mushy drumming on here somewhere) to the lyrical, string-laden 'Under Certain Things'. Building up those arrangements, Wisternoff is assisted by cellist and co-vocalist Charlotte Nichols, who performed on Portishead's latest album. Her contribution is one of the factors that elevates the album away from having that lonesome, bedroom recorded feel, yet even when he does go it alone with an acoustic guitar as on 'Human Annoyed', he still does plenty to keep momentum going, sounding off in a barbed, kind of comical fashion about nothing in particular. Most enjoyable.