Vessels

Dilate
Bias

I’ve recently been struggling with an old iPod classic that has a smashed screen, meaning that when I listen to an album I can’t tell what song I’m on or how far in I am. This was no problem with the new Vessels album though, as every track seems to flow into the next with beautiful precision.

Before a couple of years ago, I dismissed most electronic music as a genre I would never be able to get into, relying on music that was much heavier on the lyrics to provide me with my musical fix. It’s albums like Dilate that helped me to realise that I was wrong. Like MMOTHS, Vessels are putting out some beautiful tracks that keep you bobbing with every drum beat and shivering with every sound laid over them. ‘Elliptic’, ‘As You Are’ and ‘On Your Own Ten Toes’ really stand out as the best tracks on a fantastic album.

While I could understand why many will be put off by the lack of vocals on the album, this is one that I will certainly be returning to and so should you if you have a love of electronic music. Vessels are the kind of band that make me want to get a film up and running so I can ask them to provide an apocalyptic soundtrack. They’re the kind of band that forces euphoric doom through every nerve.

Jacob Ormrod

Indian Wells

Pause
Bad Panda Records

Named after the ATP World Tour venue in reference to his early musical life sampling recordings of tennis matches, the Italian producer’s sophomore LP has been turning heads at the likes of Ninja Tune.

Coming out via the Berlin net label Bad Panda, which cut its teeth releasing a new digital single every week and has supported Indian Wells’ development for a while, having released his digital debut concept collection, Night Drops, Pause rises and fades in layers that are both relaxing and taxing. There’s an element of congestion to the multiple overlapping lanes of this musical motorway, flirting with the accelerator between cruise control and tentative pushes.

Opener ‘Lipsia’ leads in with that same chaotic propulsion, juxtaposing familiar popping metronomes resembling tennis strokes rallying over its building racket. ‘Mountains’ and ‘Alacantra’ drift freely through your unsuspecting psyche with complex yet accessible chimes and pops, while ‘Changes’ is more provocative in its sweeping rhythms, massaging those neck muscles into gentle nods. The shimmering, ambient house akin to The Field’s Looping State of Mind on ‘Pause / Vignelli’ lulls you into a meditative state with its oneiric glistens, and the breathy ‘New York Nights’ hints at ‘Karma Police’ among the many bricks in its wall.

With its progressive tendencies within the bounds of instrumental electronica, it’s no surprise that Pause has been featured on Tycho’s blog, ISO50. ‘Games in the Yard’ could have seamlessly been inserted onto either of Tycho’s last two albums, even when featuring the only vocals on the album, by Matilde Davoli.

Ian Pennington

Moon Duo

Shadow of the Sun
Sacred Bones

Beginning with an instant burst of energy, this Moon Duo record was looking hopeful. The first track of their album Shadow Of The Sun is relatively upbeat, a song to play while getting ready to go out. Straight from the off there is a pattern of repetition that lingers across the whole album, with slick, sophisticated production. The album is a nice wash of heavy guitar effects, almost too heavy, with repeating drum patterns fused with electro-synthesiser style noise.

One of the outstanding features that extends across the album is the vocals – barely there, almost blending in with the background noise, but all the while intriguing. In tone and accent, Ripley Johnson reminds me very much of Luke Steele, frontman of Empire of the Sun. In terms of vocal effects, think shoegaze band DIIV. In all honesty, most of the songs up until ‘In A Cloud’ sound rather similar and all blend into one. But that changes when suddenly scratchy sounds and a more distinguishable guitar are introduced to create a dream-like, hazy song. I felt like I could go to sleep, in a good way. My only bad word against the song would be the way the guitar solo is awkwardly placed in the middle, but I guess it's a matter of personal preference.

After ‘In A Cloud’, the pace picks up, presumably to keep the listener awake. And they do a good job of doing so, too.

In conclusion, it’s a very mysterious, interesting adventure of a record.

Sara Louise Tonge

Polar Bear

Same As You
The Leaf Label

With the crackled tones of a preacher, the new Polar Bear record heaves into view. ‘Life, Love And Light’ is an ear pricking entrance, coming on like a behind-the-beat mirror of the attack of Primal Scream's ‘Loaded’. ‘We Feel The Echoes’ follows, blessed with lightness and submerged funkiness. It's rare for an album to open with such sideways cool and confidence. And confidence is the word – the musicians know they are good. Not in a vulgar, waving the knickers of your talent in the air way; more the joyously deep understanding of how sounds play off one another.

This recording draws on dance rhythms with genuine skill, most noticeably on ‘Don't Let The Feeling Go’, which allies a deadpan vocal set on repeat with funky drumming and a cut-up horn attack. ‘Of Hi Lands’ is maybe too busy at the beginning, but then smoothes out into ambience, chased along by buzzes and distant alarms. Just when you're reaching for the mouse to move the album along, team leader Seb Rochford comes in with his drums – astonishingly powerful even when quiet, unobtrusive but always at the centre – and when the sax slurs briefly away from the key, you know you'll play this tune again.

‘Unrelenting Unconditional’, which closes Same As You, is long and languid. It unfurls itself at its own pace, with some assured horn work. Somewhere in the middle, sax and drums come together, each pulling and picking at the other. Those two minutes embody this cool, confident and excellent record.

John Wigley