Review: Vessels ‘Helioscope’ (Cuckundoo Records)

Posted: March 23, 2011 in Reviews
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On their second LP, Leeds-based quintet Vessels eschews a portion of the eclecticism that was such a hallmark of previous outing ‘White Fields and Open Devices’ in favour of a dominant, vibrant and sleek sound.  Each track is choc full of intricate guitar work and intertwining melodies all underpinned by a top class rhythm section with drummer/ electronics man Tim Mitchell on absolutely phenomenal form.

There’s an air of confidence or, indeed, maturity seeping out each track, especially  apparent on the opening instrumental double salvo of ‘Monoform’ and ‘The Trap’.  Vocals are kept to a minimum, with the band possibly paying heed to the conception that this is one of their weaker points. Although this is a notion I don’t particularly agree with.  In fact, ‘All Our Ends’ vocal melody is an album highlight, which leaves you wanting more with its sun-bursting harmonies mixed in the staccato percussion, driving bass and glistening guitar work.

Obvious reference points include Post-Rockers Mogwai, particularly on ‘Later Than You Think’, an anthem that reminds of the latter day tracks of the Scottish group.  However, there’s certainly basis for the argument that Vessels have a little more in their locker in terms of musicianship than Stuart Braithwaite and co, who’s recent ‘Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will’ is a little awkward and cumbersome in places.  Which cannot be said of ‘Helioscope’, as evidenced on the labyrinth patterns and purposefully off-kilter percussion on ‘Art/Choke’.

It would seem Vessels have taken their renowned live form into the studio for ‘Helioscope’, culminating in an immersive and engaging 45+ minute listen from start to finish.  If the brooding but accessible punch of ‘Meatman, Piano Tuner, Prostitute’ is anything to go by, Vessels should be well placed to pick up an abundance of new fans, regular radio airplay and could even bother the upper echelons of the charts.


Vessels are a 5-piece from Leeds, who initially began life in 2005 with founding members Tim Mitchell (drums, laptop), Martin Teff (bass, guitar), Tom Evans (guitar, vocals) and Lee J. Malcolm (guitar, keys, electronics, vocals). The line up was completed by long time friend Peter Wright (guitar, bass, vocals) a year later. Since their inception, Vessels have honed their incendiary live set with over 100 shows, putting increasingly more adventurous and challenging songs to the test. Within this period there have been appearances at Leeds and Latitude festivals, and support slots with Caribou, Efterklang, This Will Destroy You and Brett Anderson. (Source:

  1. Gareth says:

    If you get a chance to check this band out live – DO IT!

  2. phantomchannel says:

    I’ve been lucky enough to do just that actually. Totally agree, they’re fantastic live, almost telepathic. I love the way they all swap instruments!

  3. […] The Organ, on the new Vessels record ‘Helioscope‘.  Though this piece contrasts my own review in places, reading through I found myself nodding in agreement, and it’s refreshing to see […]

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