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Vessel: Standard EP

Just a short year after his introduction to the scene, Bristolian Sebastian Gainsborough continues to impress in each consecutive release, refining his deconsctructed House sound with its dusty structures and deep, textured grooves. Returning to the Left_Blank label that he christened with the Nylon Sunset 12” last year,  Standard shows him building on the fine tracks of his Wax Dance EP towards a sound that we’ll hear a lot more of in his upcoming LP for Triangle Records.

Situating himself somewhere at the intersection between Hype Williams, Downliners Sekt and Andy Stott, Vessel’s sound is still markedly individual, with his darkened atmospheres presenting worn mechanical grooves and occasional flashes of brighter textures that disintergrate before your ears. Title track Standard is an impressive piece that manages to progress despite sounding mired in a Disco swamp, with smacked-out beats chugging along under tense seesawing synths. As it has always been with Vessel’s releases, the listener is impressed not only by the unique distorted sounds but also by unusual constructions and careful mico-edits, with each track a veritable feast of sonic details waiting to be discovered. This opener is no different, with a blunted twisting bassline taking centre stage midway through the track, almost defying the listener to dance to these valium vibes.

Second cut Merge is something new from Vessel, with a mechanical synth loop and warm pads laying a strong foundation with pacing snares for an impressively structured drop midway through the track that brings elements of Detroit machine Funk to the mix without missing a beat. A lot of the appeal of these tracks lies in the application of more colourful stabs to the eroded soundfield, but despite the masterfully intricate sound design present on all of these tunes they still have quite a niche appeal, containing within a drugged-out darkness that definitely won’t be for everyone. Nowhere is this clearer than on experimental closer Zero, hypnotizing the listener through abstraction; all processed whirring and shifting synths, the Techno equivalent of quicksand. Although his deconstructed House sound is not always an easy listen it is consistently interesting, rewarding repeated listens while showcasing the producer’s skill at crafting complex and unsettling tunes that are lodged somewhere between dance and more liberated electronic compositions. For fans of the sound that Actress brought into the spotlight a few years ago, Standard cements Vessel as an intriguing producer who could well stun on his upcoming debut LP.