Queen of Golden Dogs, the third album from Vessel, or Sebastian Gainsborough as otherwise known, was conceived, developed and recorded into life over eighteen months of solitude in rural Wales. Essentially, it is an introspective works focussing on uncertainty and change, which perhaps explains the erratic shifts in the tempo and style throughout the record.
Influenced by a range of writers, the painter Remedios Varo, and a new love, the album is somewhat different to his previous, more relaxed, serene in comparison. The world of Queen of Golden Dogs is saturated with warm colour; it is also evocative of the Bristolian music scene as it evolves, with evidently key influences being Portishead and the more experimental synthesised scene, which surrounds Gainsborough. However, clearly he has brought chamber music into this record, collaborating with his violinist lover, and vocals from the clearly talented Olivia Chaney, overall bringing in more traditional forms of playing music into this LP.
Fantasma (For Jasmine), begins with bent cello, evolving to hard percussion and then swelling synthesisers, shifting to the more conservative choir sounds of Good Animal (For Hannah), but it is not long before there are displacements in that track, the entire album as transient as a sea vessel. Transformative with unpredictable alternations in tone, Queen of Golden Dogs is clearly an exploration of the evolve, of movement and change. The cinematic, atmospheric string that introduces Argo (For Maggie) soon gives way to a domineering bass adventuring towards a techno sound, which Gainsborough is more versed in. Torno-me eles e nau-eu (For Remedios) Is a tripped down track, offering layered vocals, evidently a prime example of Vessel’s shift in style towards classical forms. Paplu Love That Moves The Sun initially continues that dissonant and sweet sound but then transcends into a percussion dominant track, as the timeline moves, the rhythm and tempo altering, jerking along through the single, a perpetual movement in change, with repetition only last mere seconds before a chord or note alters, or an altogether new instrument is brought in. If the last track was a prime example of his movement towards the more traditional instruments this one is certainly key in outlining his exploration of uncertainty and change.
Stimulating in its form, Queen of Golden Dogs is worth the listen.
The album is available now via Tri Angle Records.