Engineers - Old Blue Last - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Engineers - Old Blue Last

by Louise Harlow Rating: Release Date:

Engineers' Mark Peters has said that the title of third album In Praise of More (taken from a Erasmus essay, no less) is a reflection of the band's continued creative drive in the face of various conspiring obstacles. He has a point - not only are Engineers continuing in the tenuous and not over-crowded vein of shoegaze indebted post-rock, but earlier this year the departure of Dan McBean (guitar) and Andrew Sweeney (drums) from the band was announced.

Still, after a cabinet reshuffle and the ambient grand-slam recruitment of a Mr Ulrich Schnauss (surely the best idol sign-up since the Jarman brothers coshed Johnny Marr over the head and dragged him in the Cribs tour van) Engineers breathe new life with their follow-up to the assured Three Fact Fader.

The crowd assembled in the upstairs room of East London's Old Blue Last was a bizarre old menagerie, with far more straight-from-the-office unbuttoned city strays than can reasonably be explained, who nevertheless soon swayed en mass to the shifting shimmer and fuzz of the soundscapes that frontman Simon Phipps and co have made their business. Not having previously realised how highly susceptible I am to ambient wizardry after a couple of pints (and a cocktail too heinously monikered to speak of) I soon found myself wondering where the last half hour of my life had slithered off to, having fallen down the rabbit hole of Phipps' disembodied vocals. But you know, in a pleasant way.

Obviously in-set pitter patter with the crowd was at a (non-existent) low, not that anyone was expecting inane link drivel, and on the rare moments when Phipps risked the occasional opening of his peepers he looked like a man blinded by sun. This only becomes a problem when it's coupled (as it was at the Old Blue Last) with an In Praise of More-heavy set which probably did little for the happys of old fans who came presumably expecting at the very least of whiff of the tracks like 'Sometimes I Realise' which made Three Fact Fader such a big-balled turning point for the band. However, not being a particularly well-schooled old-timer, to me it didn't kill the set, and the grungey diazepam optimism of 'Subtober' and the title track's electro paranoia are fine by me. This, however, may not have been the case if I had been in a judicial state of sobriety, but as Sweeney once candidly observed of his former band - "If more people started taking acid we'd clean up".

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