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SJ Esau - 'Small Vessel' [CD]

SJ Esau

Small Vessel


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Product Details
  • Jun 24, 2008
  • Rock & Alternative
  • 656605858920
  • ABR0085CD
  • 2.8 oz
  • new (we only sell new items)
  • Anticon
  • SJ Esau
On his second album for Anticon, Bristolian rock collagist SJ Esau, or Sam Wisternoff, tightens his playful, genre-bounding compositions even as a cast of collaborators amplifies his singular vision. While 2007's Wrong Faced Cat Feed Collapse smartly played to its own contrasts, Small Vessel melds diverse moods and styles into a buoyant, bold, and cohesive album both utterly post-modern and curiously epic despite its humble means.

A happy tot slurs the words "Es-Jay E-zoo, Saul Vessel," and the listener arrives in Wisternoff's Technicolor world. From a tics-and-all series of vocal drills chopped into rhythmic bits, "Frustrating" is born, and soon congeals into cresting waves of orchestral pop with little more than guitars and drums added. Everything plays bigger and brighter this time, with even the 18-second title track sounding grandly choral as it runs up against the bouncing pastoral sounds of the turntable- and viola-laden "Bastard Eyes." "I Threw a Wobbly" throws bells, trumpet, soloing guitar and what sounds like the disembodied bark of Cee-Lo Green into the Wisternoff blender, and somehow it all comes out smooth and almost danceable.

Small Vessel's songs are wholly pretty and do not shying from their disparate origins, and lyrics that loom large even as they focus on earthly details. A musical accomplishment in under two minutes, standout "Ruddy Spark" begins in collage, breaks into Fog-like, hard jazz-inflected rock, and closes in a blaze of surf-punk, while "Depth Perception Lack" builds a miniature mountain out of a typewriter beat, propulsive guitars, an unexpected Mt. Eerie-style chorus of ominous voices, and barroom piano. After a final interlude of wordless, stark sound collage, closer "What Happened" begins with a slow strum and soon unfolds into unhurried pop. As Wisternoff sings, he doesn't sound wistful or worried, nor should he. This is what SJ Esau does best: ploughing through sounds, moods, and impulses, separating, sorting, and piling until there's a fully fleshed composition to look over his shoulder and grin at. Thus, as Wisternoff's spindly legs carry him off into the muddled sunset, Small Vessel stands on a sturdy pair of its own.
Track Listing