Death Vessel / Island Intervals - SP866
Death Vessel’s Joel Thibodeau’s slender, winsome voice, at once so comforting and so unsettling might be the greatest of his many strengths. Reed-thin but sturdy, youthful but somehow ageless, its deep benevolence is also slightly eerie, and the way he gently walks the line between intense feeling and contemplative remove lets him sing from a timeless place where he evokes the beauty of vanished people and places, sweetness too profound for words, loss too great for tears. Joel’s is a voice that demands its own sonic and lyrical world, and with Island Intervals, his third record as Death Vessel (and second for Sub Pop), we’re treated to the sound of him finding a rich and strange new home among new friends in Iceland who probably saw him as a long-lost relative. For his first album since 2008’s acclaimed Nothing Is Precious Enough for Us, Joel traveled to Reykjavik on an invitation from Sigur Ros singer Jónsi and producer Alex Somers, where they spent three months together conjuring an album that’s both a song cycle and a window into a mysterious and singular landscape.
If you pre-order Island Intervals in its vinyl LP configuration, you’ll receive the limited Loser Edition on colored vinyl. As is always the case with limited-edition things, when they’re gone, they’re gone, so order now!
Released: February 25, 2014
This collection of music was written and sung by Joel Thibodeau. It is unlike anything you’ve ever heard. People will call it many things. Few will get it right. This is Death Vessel.
Death Vessel’s debut album Stay Close was released in 2005 to critical acclaim. Since that album’s release Death Vessel has toured with Iron & Wine, Low, Jose Gonzalez, and The Books, among others. Recorded with longtime producer/collaborator Pete Donnelly (The Figgs) at his New Jersey studio, and various locales across the northeast, Nothing Is Precious Enough for Us is Death Vessel’s Sub Pop debut. While in recent years Joel has toured primarily as a solo performer, and the songs are inarguably mesmerizing and relevant in that setting, on record they take on a new life, thanks to his and Donnelly’s inspired, and often unusual, arrangements, and the contributions of numerous friends and players. The album exudes a unique, wide-scope ambition. Its musical reach is fully extended—-deep into the past, grounded in the present and nodding to the future. Owing to the gritty avarice of Joel’s singular spirit, voice and musicality, the songs sound as progressive, experimental and modern as they do antique and old-world. The music is haunting and spiritual, mysterious and kind, ageless and contemporary, soulful and psychedelic. In short, it’s where the requiem meets rock ‘n’ roll.
“Now I am versed in silence/my throat hurts, not from yelling but from holding back,” Joel sings on “Block My Eye,” the album’s opening track. And that’s ok, because the music speaks for itself. And nothing ever sounded so loud, and so clear.
Released: August 19, 2008
Death Vessel / Stay Close - RS-NE137
What lends Death Vessel’s “Stay Close” its unique charm is Joel Thibodeau’s voice. He sings in a high register with a clear tone that’s beautifully sustained, but with an underlying inquisitiveness that’s distinctly childlike. Too pure and focused to run afoul of the Newsom/Banhart haters, it’s nevertheless an extraordinarily odd male voice. And Thibodeau plays to its strengths, wrapping it around fancy alliterations and using it to blow the dust off of quasi-historical bric-a-brac. Like most of the best folk tunes, few of these tracks make a lick of narrative sense. Thibodeau sings angelically about carcass racks and harpoons, pinking shears and burdock spurs, coining adverbs like “pelicanly” and “sans serif-ly” as he zips along. The places where Laura and Meg Baird (of Espers) offer harmony are especially nice treats.
Released: May 7, 2007