Electronic producer & composer Seb Gainsborough (Vessel) began his career as a purveyor of left-field, bass driven electronica, using his unique sonic palate to create immersive compositions, exploring texture and tone, the organic and the man-made.
His first album, Order of Noise (Tri Angle Records 2012) saw him position himself as an artist at the vanguard of new British electronic music.
2014’s ‘Punish, Honey’ signalled a distinct departure from everything Vessel had previously released. Following two years of touring the output from ‘Order of Noise’ and his output from the ten years prior, Vessel approached ‘Punish, Honey’ differently, stepping aside from digital music tools in favour of analogue hardware and unique, hand-crafted instrumentation in order to develop an entirely unique sonic palette. Lead single, Red Sex picked up cult status, being used in Park Chan Wook’s The Handmaiden, on Alexander McQueen’s catwalks and as the soundtrack to a swathe of contemporary dance works whilst simultaneously destroying dank basement dancefloors around the world.
Following ‘Punish, Honey’ Gainsborough’s focus shifted to a collaborative, exploratory approach, in particular, blurring the boundaries between live and synthesised sound. Gainsborough teamed up with Erased Tapes’ Immix Ensemble for his first foray into the ‘classical’ world, this resulted in a new commission for the re-launch of Tate Britain ‘Transition’, released on Erased Tapes in 2016.
"At some point, I realised I had faded away from much of the music I used to identify with," Gainsborough told Dazed. "When I started getting deeply into classical and chamber music, I let out a big sigh of relief, like, finally. This is the language I've been looking for."
This sparked a critical mass of new ideas and partnerships that would change Gainsborough’s music output forever. Gainsborough formed a close bond with Rakhi Singh, Immix’s violinist who opened his eyes to a lifetime of new listening. They began to write their first collaborative work not long after meeting. Written In Fire, a response to Janáček’s string quartet ‘Intimate Letters’ dropped in 2019, kicking off a rapid fire triptych alongside chamber opera ‘Paradise Lost’ and ‘Passion’, alongside acclaimed cellist Lucy Railton. If ‘Transition’ was Gainsborough dipping his toe into the water of the instrumental world, this was him diving in head first.
All the while, alongside this exploration, collaboration and creative play, Gainsborough was simultaneously penning ‘Queen of Golden Dogs’, an album that would be his first true, cohesive amalgamation of his deep, nuanced electronic music and the new world of experimental and classical music that was unfolding before his eyes.
Marrying ‘orchestral string stabs with propulsive percussion for a sound that is equal parts Arnold Schoenberg and Oneohtrix Point Never.’ Queen of Golden Dogs, was released (again by Tri Angle) in 2018. It marks a stark departure from the producer’s previous work, taking that next step on Gainsborough’s creative journey, combining chamber-rave freak outs with vocal segues and neo-classical pieces.
In the live domain, the work is performed alongside acclaimed visual artist, and long time collaborator Pedro Maia, director of the masterpiece accompaniment to QOGD’s lead single Paplu. Maia creates a visual companion truly befitting of Gainsborough’s immersive, visceral, fluid musical output.
Vessel, continues to be a truly singular voice, whatever his next move is, it’s likely to be unlike anything you’ll have ever heard before.
Selected discography Vessel
Nylon Sunset EP - 2011 (Left Blank)
Standard EP - 2012 (Left Blank)
Order of Noise - 2012 (Tri Angle)
Misery Is A Communicable Disease - 2013 (Liberation Technologies)
Punish, Honey - 2014 (Tri Angle)
Transition (with Immix Ensemble) - 2016 (Erased Tapes)
Queen of Golden Dogs - 2018 (Tri Angle)