Vessels’ recently released album Dilate is something of a departure from their lean, guitar-focussed Slint-via-Radiohead post-rock stylings. Previous record Helioscope is a brilliant, greyscale exercise in tension and release and where Dilate still uses similar dynamics in terms of building layers to a dramatic climax, this time it’s in glorious electronic Technicolor. It’s no coincidence that the band are all wearing t-shirts in the bright colours of Dilate‘s cover tonight.

Where Dilate begins with an incessant 4/4 kick drum, tonight’s set starts with a build-up of ambient noise, the lines between the between-band mixtape and the start of the set blurred. Then that pounding starts and barely lets up for the next 45 minutes. There’s only one guitar on stage and banks of analogue synths, percussion and effects pedals; tonight has nothing to do with the past and everything to do with the music Vessels are making right now. It’s as if they’ve taken the template that 65daysofstatic hinted at had they headed down the rabbit hole that ‘Tiger Girl’ had suggested instead of the studied, expansive soundscapes that followed and existed on a diet of Four Tet and Moderat ever since.

Vessels have learnt to dance. Well, metaphorically at least. The band themselves still do that slightly awkward, jerky electric-shock-therapy thing but the visuals more than make up for it, all laser beam Rorschach tests and those flashing lights you see when you press  your fingers into your eyes. Glistening arpeggios layer with chirruping loops, giving way to fuzz bass and washes of synthetic noise, always building, tracks blurring from one to the next and barely letting up. A Blade Runner-style sci-fi synth line emerges at one point, everything drops out to buzzing pads and effect pedal squeaks at another but it all pulls together as a whole. Nothing matters beyond the next crescendo and those endless beats and the band knows it, grinning away at each other across the stage and counting each other in as they effortlessly segue into another new track in a flurry of electronics.

Powerhouse drummer Tim Mitchell is the glue that holds it all together but at one point four of the band are playing percussion while a thrumming bassline holds court. It’s a carnival at the end of the world, it’s the BBC Radiophonic Workshop conducted by Jon Hopkins. They self-deprecatingly describe it onstage as a student basement party but none of the parties I went to as a student were anything like this, I’ll tell you that for nowt. If only.

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Andy Vine

Like all cis-male atopic half Welshmen, I'm a big fan of shouty indie, noisy drone and the daytime Radio 1 playlist. Outside of punk rock my primary interests are tea (white no sugar please) and beer (brown no sugar please). When I'm not writing about stuff for Silent Radio I'm occasionally doing my own stuff which you can read about at if you want (you should).