In just a few releases as Vessel, Bristol resident Seb Gainsborough has proven to have multifarious interests. It figures that he's still fairly young—his music has the openness expected from someone who, having recently unlocked the possibilities of his machines, finds an expansive world to operate in. The same experimental quality that grants him his exciting quirks, however, also means that each new release is a potential left turn—the possibility of incoherence looms over his work. Misery Is a Communicable Disease, his first release for Mute's Liberation Technologies offshoot, isn't a disjointed effort, but it does find the innovative producer driving his music in new directions.
The title track's drums are rendered in shrill, distorted halftime; its brassy pads provide the best Vangelis impersonation since Kuedo's Severant, and they're at first bathed in so much reverb that they seem to be glowing. It's also the finest piece here, and one in which the stirring atmosphere does much of the heavy lifting. "VMI" furthers that track's sense of corrosion; its rhythm bangs on iron, and it has a cheekily deranged sense of melody. "Not for Design" is more purpose built, though the song takes its time making its intentions clear. Its introductory shuffle, laced with aggressively growling bass and a whistling teapot tune, eventually makes room for a sinister, acidic synthline that could have been plucked straight off a new-beat record. It's all a far cry from Vessel's earlier work, which earned him more than a few comparisons to Actress, but it maintains the same spatial values, and the same slightly creepy idiosyncrasies. Feral overdrive is in vogue, but Gainsborough generally manages to keep his use of it in check, countering the blunt force with detail.