Our Brief Encounters by BlanketRelease date: February 10, 2017
This Blackpool, Lancashire collective has just dropped a gorgeous slice of post rock, and their press release reminds us that they “specialise in sweeping, post-rock-influenced, ambient sounds inspired by. the likes of Caspian, Sigur Ros, Circa Survive, This Will Destroy You, Nothing and Failure.
This band went through a lot to make this album. Guitarist/songwriter Bobby Pook, who shared a house with band-mate Simon Morgan, nearly died in a house fire as he tried to save his possessions. He had little idea at the time that this event would transform their vision for this record, which was halfway written at the time. His injuries from the fire nearly cost him the ability to ever play music or make films again when he was left with severe 3rd degree burns to his hands. A Kickstarter campaign helped fund replacement equipment, and went a long way toward inspiring some of the music heard here.
Now, just slip on some headphones and you’ll be immediately captured by the spell of the opening track ‘Acacia’. It has all the elements you’d expect, the furious rush of guitar, synths that almost mimic human voices, lovely piano, and pretty vocals. Listening to how assured and confident they sound, you’d never guess this was their debut release! Of course, it’s more of an EP than a full length album, but that’s splitting hairs.
‘Tethered’ starts off with spoken words, as if we’re placed in the middle of an intimate conversation. Not sure what it all means, I suppose it’s open to interpretation. The voices are joined by a heavenly choir (possibly synthetic) and fuzzed out guitars, transporting the listener to another dimension. It’s the same feeling I get with all these songs, it’s like they’ve beamed in from somewhere else, a place bursting with colour and impossible beauty. It’s widescreen, cinematic post rock that is easy to become attached to, with magnificent passages alternating with quiet, watery tones.
‘Discoveries and Beginnings’ is more luster lit splendor, starting off from a serene space with simple plucked guitar and a twinkling backdrop. It ramps up slowly, layers added slowly like icing on a filigreed cake. When the drums really kick in, the energy spikes. The conversation heard in ‘Tethered’ is revisited here before the band really kicks out the jams for the song’s finale.
‘Starlight Filled Our Minds’ reminds me a bit of Radiohead at the start, before tiptoeing off into the aether. The hushed piano and quiet vocals really carry it here, though soaring guitars launch you into the stratosphere. I love when the guitars crash back in at around the 3 minute mark.
The final track ‘To the Skies’ is the longest at 6:05, and I am caught in a reverie as I listen, my mind whirling across countless ideas, then slowly pulled back to Earth. It’s a fitting end to this beautiful record.