Review Summary: An EP-length LP with enough content to satiate a single song.
It is entirely possible I'm just not reading the room properly but Lorn's latest attempt at creating somewhat current vibes is harshly diminished by a severe lack of content. Vessel
just doesn't do enough to justify its relatively short runtime. 30 minutes should never feel like 45 but an absence of experimentation within Lorn's minimalist sonic signature makes for a final product that is wholly unenthusiastic. This is more of the same sparse electronica we have come to expect of Lorn, but there is only so far one can go with a spark before the flames die down. Intentions may be clear, but a general air of indecisiveness results in an EP-length LP with enough content to satiate a single song.
Lorn's attention to detail is appropriately focused on Vessel
; production throughout remains clean while suiting the numerous soundscapes Lorn explores. Some interesting sounds are used to evoke atmosphere on some of the longer cuts such as a ragged, tribal groan that permeates the low end of "Anvil". However, there is nothing of great substance to be found anywhere on this record. Part of me wonders if Lorn was lost in the mastering stage before any of these songs were fully realised because roughly half of the album consists of bars being repeated with little to no change to distinguish song progression. Pair this with three interlude tracks, an opening song that doesn't kick into gear until its halfway point, and a finale that serves as both the longest and the most uninteresting song in the listing, it becomes apparent that Vessel
is over a third empty. The confidence Lorn has in his dark and slick production could be admirable if he had interesting songs to back him up. Instead, Vessel
stands as nothing more than a bored and uninspired tech demo.
To add insult to injury, Lorn has good ideas. "Conduit" is a pristine pairing of craggy bass and ethereal vocals that was quite an infectious venture. The punchy, bouncing kit and droning bass fuzz of "Dipped Into Poison" was similarly tickling on first listens. Was
is the keyword here however because the only progression to be found within either song is found in the form of minute variations of each song's opening two bars. From a technical perspective, Lorn has everything necessary to write a compelling release. As an adept at catching grooves and addictive melody, there is enough production prowess in that noggin of his to present something with strong mass appeal. In the same breath, Lorn has proven he can create interesting atmosphere and his aforementioned attention to detail would suit a slightly more conceptual and immersing release if he felt so inclined.
There were multiple points during my initial listen to Vessel
where I anticipated songs to shift and was instead greeted with another few bars of the same sounds I'd been listening to for minutes prior. The general catchiness of the grooves and melodies gave me a case of cruel, false hope. Tedium can be a suitable backdrop for artists with specific thematic intention but Lorn's directness in terms of production and melody puts him on the fence. The accessibility he strives for in Vessel
remains buried beneath layers of monotony, and I can only hope he is able to decide clearly whether he will pursue temperate droning over tribal bangers or not in future endeavours.