This was a big disappointment for me. Its predecessor, Compassion, was one of the high points in sample-based electronica in the last five years. On‘The Vessell’, Dan Berridge enlists a male vocal foil in Richard Palmer –a cross between the lead singers of the Aloof and Placebo (to listen to,not to look at!) – which sadly detracts from Berridges trademarksoundscapes. On the whole, Palmer’s high-pitched, overly histrionic vocalsjust do not convince – except on the world-weary ‘Beaten Dog’, and thesoaring ‘Sufi’, where the vocal track is pushed back a bit into the mix.All the while Berridge weaves a dense and claustrophobic backdrop withgloomy strings, vinyl static, mournful trumpets, cymbal splashes andlive-sounding drums. It doesn’t sound as fresh as it does on Compassionhowever, a feeling that is compounded by the unnecessary re-hash of ‘ForThe One’, which replaces the beautiful sampled female vocal of theoriginal with Palmer’s own version. Highlights are the brooding piano andspectral voices of ‘Manifesto (Stand Up)’, which is reminiscent of DJShadow’s Dark Days and the apocalyptic choirs of ‘Darkling’, which hassince been aped by Nostalgia 77 on his debut LP ‘Songs for my Funeral’.Both of these tracks – like the equally impressive opener ‘Beauty’ – areinstrumentals, which I would have preferred the whole album to be, withsamples adding to the sense of song-structure as on Compassion.