Helmed by Matt Bauer and co-produced by Joey Gonzalez of Blush Response, the debut album from Pressure Vessel may not seem to possess the same kind of erotic charge as its cover artwork; however, this is not to say that there isn’t a certain primal quality permeating throughout Ligature’s eight tracks, each of which presents an onslaught of aggressively rhythmic EBM and industrialized techno that almost seems to call back to the genre’s earliest output.
Tracks like “Ligature” and “Spleen” are notable for their cybernetic ambience, delivered through steely mechanoid bass lines that would’ve been welcome on any Front Line Assembly record from the late ‘80s or early ‘90s, the sample manipulations on the latter song evoking an orgy of both sensuous and destructive energies to make for a rather monstrous track. The same can be said of “This Rancid Heart” as droning bass and pads swell like the pulsating heart of a biomechanical creature ravenous with hunger, the track ending in a flurry of howling synthesized fury. There are occasional flashes of an almost cinematic atmosphere on tracks like “Oblivion” with its layers of synths creating a sonic miasma that is almost harmonious and tuneful, as well as the groaning bass of “Shedded Skin,” which reminds this writer of the T-1000 theme in Terminator 2.
Where Ligature falls somewhat short is in the formulaic arrangement of these songs, each bearing a rather predictable pattern of tension and gradual buildup, movements of forceful percussive energy true to its techno roots; sadly, this results in more than several tracks languishing in simplicity and loop repetition, although thankfully, none of them ever outstay their welcome, keeping things concise, punchy, and ultimately enjoyable. With mastering provided by regular FLA collaborator Jeff Swearingen, and several new tracks and some remixes appearing on the Marks follow-up, Matt Bauer seems to have a firm handle of where Pressure Vessel’s creative power is at its best.