This is a review of "Two Words & A Gesture" recorded by Vessels. The review was written by Kate Zezulka in 2007.
Shoegaze and experimental music can be quite hit-and-miss. Some would probably argue, with more than just slight condescension, it’s more often miss; but then it’s these factions that miss out on some of the more interesting artistic visions on the music scene.
Vessels would be one of the bands with just such a vision. “Two Words and a Gesture” seems to revel in its dream-like liquidity and pace, particularly in indulging in a languid introduction just shy of a minute and a half. Instrumental and vocal parts throughout the track show the band to have a very honed sense of ambient. The effect is a very successful one: expect stupor and a warping sense of the minutes ticking by.
That said, this is a surprisingly memorable song. To a certain extent it is a bit of an absurdity to release your average ambient song as a single, but Vessels have good command of melody. The vocal line is probably best described as a pop hook at half-speed and given less of a dominant role in the mix. Equally, the attractive little riff on keys that comes in at about the half-way point is an ear-catcher.
The B-side, Clear and Calm, is also a noteworthy accomplishment. The sonorous introduction interweaving guitar and bass, brilliant in the first place, develops and grows in intensity in a very inventive way. The drums also help to achieve impressive intricacies in the song’s fabric.
The two songs seem to work seamlessly together. I think perhaps “Two Words and a Gesture” might be slightly less stable presented independently, but with the B-side (which really ought to be called the AA-side, it’s that convincing) it’s very engrossing. Vessels give ambient/experimental one of the most flattering makeovers it’s had for a long time, and don’t make themselves look half bad along the way.