ngineers build things—that much should be obvious. These particular engineers have taken the promise of their Folly mini-album from last year and capitalised on it. Over the course of 45 minutes their aesthetic makes more sense than it had done in smaller doses—immersiveness needing time to take hold of you, to pull you beneath its tides, and twenty minutes is barely long enough to get a trip started, let alone long enough to lose yourself in it.
Starting with a re-recorded version of debut single “Home,” a gorgeous, gently-erupting half-tune which revels in concentric circles of guitar, Engineers is an album that wants you to
It would be easy and perhaps lazy to call Engineers shoegazers, but while the aesthetic of their music broadly fits that much loved, much maligned sub-genre of alternative rock, the specifics have altered massively in the 15 years since My Bloody Valentine and Ride started painting the world pink with hazy guitar noise. A cursory listen to M83 reveals that synthesisers and computers are now as important to the sound and feel of this type of record as FX pedals are, and the likes of Caribou (formerly Dan Snaith’s Manitoba) have added a rhythmic and emotional diversity to the template by imposing jazz skronks and euphorically wild percussion, while Pluramon seems content to recreate the aesthetic in archaeological rather than revisionist fashion. Engineers don’t shift the paradigm in any radical new directions; they simply enliven it by paying it no attention and taking their own route through the oceans and smoke of sound.
Songwriting necessarily takes a backseat here most of the time, but it’s hardly missed when there’s so much gorgeous, woozy texture to loll in. “New Horizons”, originally the b-side to “Home” and again re-recorded here, is a lysergic lullaby of in-the-round harmonies, while “Forgiveness” is included in the same delicious slow-motion form it took on Folly. “Thrasher” is the closest sonic cousin to MBV here, but while it does cut loose with a degree of abandon its title is still something of a misnomer. “Peter Street” is a brief electronic diversion following “Come In Out Of The Rain,” Engineers’ most driving and fulsome song, while album closer and standout “One In Seven” climaxes in layers of fierce guitar that surge and flay with an intensity almost at odds with the preceding 40 minutes of spacious exploration.
Engineers exists in a confused, semi-industrial wasteland where mist merges with smoke from factory stacks, where blackened buildings are bordered by canals, where empty warehouses stand close by like the disorienting walls of a charcoal maze. Which is to say that you could get lost there, but you probably wouldn’t mind.