Brainwash Festival, Leeds, 1st November 2009 Pt 3: Vessels

That there’s a superabundance of instrumental post-rock, and instrumental rock, is perhaps something of an understatement. The Leeds scene is a veritable hotbed of post-rock instrumentalism, and I’ve lost count of the number of bands I’ve seen doing this sort of thing on my manifold nights spent in the Brudenell and the Packhorse. However, Vessels are undoubtedly amongst the pick of the crop, creating immense, swirling soundscapes that emerge from quiet, semi-ambient noodlings.

The use of synthesisers to produce spacious and space-age sounds is one of the factors in Vessels’ multidimensionality, but the fact the band pack the stage with a forest of guitars is what really creates their dense, layered sound as they trade intricacies before launching into explosive, soaring – and searing – bursts of noise. Guitars and basses are swapped and exchanged, allowing for the different playing styles to subtly alter the moods throughout the set.

Ok, so on this outing, the sound wasn’t as good – or as loud, or as dense – as when I saw them headline at the Brudenell a while back, but then, accommodating so many bands during a single afternoon must be a technical nightmare, and soundchecks subject to rigid time constraints in order to keep things running to time. Besides, the sound in the Brudenell is both consistently well above average in terms of both quality and volume, so I guess I’ve been spoiled rather. That said, Vessels turn in a set that’s got energy, variety and dynamic range, and serves to illustrate perfectly just what a fine band they are.

Don’t forget, there’s always more of the same (only different) at!

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