Music

Vessel's 'Queen of Golden Dogs' Paints a Gripping, Over-Saturated Opus

Photo: Christalla Fannon / Courtesy of Pitch Perfect PR

After a four-year absence, Vessel's Queen of Golden Dogs leaves behind desolate beats for stunningly over-saturated electronic and chamber compositions.

Queen of Golden Dogs
Vessel

Tri Angle

9 November 2018

Since Sebastian Gainsborough, aka Vessel, signed to Tri Angle Records, he has continued to push the brooding capabilities of electronic music. 2012's Order of Noise deconstructed techno and house into disintegrating beats, laying atmospheric melancholy over skeletal drums. 2014's Punish, Honey built seductively dark DIY cacophonies, submitting to and fusing ecstasy and despair—the closer "DPM" is an acronym for debilitating power music. The trajectory of these two sonic explorations seemed to lead toward an enthralling freefall into the perpetual depths of complete sound experimentation, intimating a move toward industrial noise or dark ambient.

However, while Gainsborough's latest album Queen of Golden Dogs was composed during 18 months of solitude in rural Wales, the music does not depict lonely torpors or the sense of impending doom that struck his past albums. Rather, Gainsborough's secluded stint directed his experimental tendencies to the unexpected world of chamber music. Also, inspired by a range of writers, the painter Remedios Varo, and the "violinist lover", an unnamed contributor to the album, QoGD shifts from Gainsborough's typically sepulchral, dreary beats to dense, romantic chamber compositions and emotionally skittering electronic movements.

QoGD opens with the prologue "Fantasma (For Jasmine)". Unsettling chamber music begins as cellos liberally teeter from harmonious to dissonant, teasing the ominous tones of Gainsborough's past. However, the deceptive cloak is quickly doffed with a scorching, percussive synth line. Soon joined by jumping slap basses, latex screeches, and unrelenting drum rolls, the opening cellos are long forgotten. While in the past, such a dissonant intro may have collapsed into a dilapidated doom drop, this time, the tension is hyperexcited, cathartically screaming distorted melodies until the very end.

"Argo (For Maggie)" continues the prologue's elusive movements. Once again, orchestral strings begin the chamber introduction but quickly morph into sharp metallic swells and bit-crushed vocal glides. Moments before the shrilling piece overloads, a teeming drum circle of claps and collapses clank to commence a Baroque techno end, if you will. With irreverence for tradition, the shapeshifting progression surrenders to untamed impulses. As Gainsborough says, QoGD is "an exploration of living a life devoted to uncertainty, curiosity, and change".

Moreover, Gainsborough composes a set of segues that moves from drum-heavy tracks to ambient and classical compositions. The Baroque interlude "Arcanum (For Christalla)" plucks a lone harpsichord until it suddenly oscillates into a clattering noise crescendo. "Sand Tar Man Star (For Auriellia)" features Olivia Chaney's vocals over damning, reverb-laden clunks that almost resemble the DIY hammerings of Punish, Honey. "Torno-me eles e nau-eu (For Remedios)" also borrows Chaney's voice to layer a sullen choir, leading to the album centerpiece.

"Paplu Love That Moves the Sun" is the only song that is not parenthetically dedicated to another, and the outlier is justifiably saved for Gainsborough himself. Above all, the centerpiece tests the boundaries of the almost overindulgent, over-saturated nature of QoGD. As Chaney's vocals echo from the prior segue, a staccato synth enters with the most joyous melody of the album. Exacerbated by jubilant group claps and celebratory yelps, the sense of unfettered expression never relents. Seeking constant transformations, each transition shoots further into an otherworldly space, a place in which only QoGD occupies.

Gainsborough says about Queen of Golden Dogs, "I wanted to make this work to realize experiences that I thought I had already had. Quite quickly I realized that I was reaching too far, and because I wanted so much more, I had to give more." Processing and searching for new expressions, oversaturated melodies, and unabated movements reach for new sonic reflections. While past projects painted bleak landscapes, the latest opus pours copious amounts of over-saturated colors to swatch luscious scenes. It has been four years since Gainsborough's last release, and there was much to share.

9
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

David Grubbs and Taku Unami Collaborate on the Downright Riveting 'Comet Meta'

Comet Meta is a brilliant record full of compositions and moments worthy of their own accord, but what's really enticing is that it's not only by David Grubbs but of him. It's perhaps the most emotive, dream-like, and accomplished piece of Grubbsian experimental post-rock.

Music

On Their 2003 Self-Titled Album, Buzzcocks Donned a Harder Sound and Wore it With Style and Taste

Buzzcocks, the band's fourth album since their return to touring in 1989, changed their sound but retained what made them great in the first place

Reading Pandemics

Chaucer's Plague Tales

In 18 months, the "Great Pestilence" of 1348-49 killed half of England's population, and by 1351 half the population of the world. Chaucer's plague tales reveal the conservative edges of an astonishingly innovative medieval poet.

Music

Country's Jaime Wyatt Gets in Touch With Herself on 'Neon Cross'

Neon Cross is country artist Jaime Wyatt's way of getting in touch with all the emotions she's been going through. But more specifically, it's about accepting both the past and the present and moving on with pride.

Music

Counterbalance 17: Public Enemy - 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back'

Hip-hop makes its debut on the Big List with Public Enemy’s meaty, beaty manifesto, and all the jealous punks can’t stop the dunk. Counterbalance’s Klinger and Mendelsohn give it a listen.

Music

Sondre Lerche and the Art of Radical Sincerity

"It feels strange to say it", says Norwegian pop artist Sondre Lerche about his ninth studio album, "but this is the perfect time for Patience. I wanted this to be something meaningful in the middle of all that's going on."

Books

How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.

Film

From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Music

The 50 Best Songs of 2007

Journey back 13 years to a stellar year for Rihanna, M.I.A., Arcade Fire, and Kanye West. From hip-hop to indie rock and everywhere in between, PopMatters picks the best 50 songs of 2007.

Music

'Modern' Is the Pinnacle of Post-Comeback Buzzcocks' Records

Presented as part of the new Buzzcocks' box-set, Sell You Everything, Modern showed a band that wasn't interested in just repeating itself or playing to nostalgia.

Music

​Nearly 50 and Nearly Unplugged: 'ChangesNowBowie' Is a Glimpse Into a Brilliant Mind

Nine tracks, recorded by the BBC in 1996 show David Bowie in a relaxed and playful mood. ChangesNowBowie is a glimpse into a brilliant mind.

Music

Reaching for the Sky: An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Bruce Sudano

How did Bruce Sudano become a superhero? PopMatters has the answer as Sudano celebrates the release of Spirals and reflects on his career from Brooklyn Dreams to Broadway.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.