It’s been a big twelve months for noted ‘witch house’ label Tri-Angle, home to the likes of AlunaGeorge and Holy Other; earlier this year, Vessel aka Bristol-based Sebastian Gainsborough became one of their latest signings. However, whilst many Tri-Angle acts have particularly hi-fi production values with overwhelming atmospherics, Vessel’s style is a lot more lo-fi which can sometimes detract from the often busy composition. His debut album ‘Order Of Noise’ is an amalgamation of the different sounds and textures that are saturating the electronic scene but with so many young producers making their way to the forefront of the music scene in 2012, simply recreating and slightly building upon previous efforts soon becomes forgettable.
As it stands, electronic artists are more likely to bring out a string of EPs and 12’s than form an album and Gainsborough would have benefited from this. While there are some great moments on ‘Order Of Noise’, too many ideas are often stuck together – showcasing influence from genres such as techno, witch house and a bit of grime, that ends up sounding somewhere close to Zomby’s ‘Dedication’ yet the execution feels messy and rushed. What feels the most tired in Vessel’s debut is the use of hissing hi-hats that have become a trademark of trap. However, these are combined with the underwater stomach-turning loops and sparse echoed vocal samples that Balam Acab is so well known for – detracting from the hip hop influence that has been infiltrating the electronic world.
It’s easy to pinpoint places of reference in Vessel’s work as he tends to borrow distinct sounds that already belong to other producers. ‘Silten’ and ‘Scarletta’ brings to mind the idiosyncratic production of Blawan’s more recent efforts; with booming, robotic vocal samples and airy, mechanical stomps dominating as warmer elements take a back seat. Lead single ‘Court Of Lions’ is the closest that Gainsborough comes to finding his own sound, featuring an extremely rapid beat akin to a helicopter taking off for flight.
Heavy on distorted bass and full of icy soundscapes, ‘Order Of Noise’ does enough to draw you in to listen to it a couple of times but never fully invites you in to its isolated world. Whilst it’s not the most cohesive electronic debut, there are some interesting ideas grounded in ‘Order Of Noise’ that are a jumping off point for Vessel’s later material. This darker, more apocalyptic realm of electronic music is often cold and uninviting; sometimes that can work to its advantage but here, Gainsborough just falls short.