When I used to play in bands one of my favourite destinations for a gig was Blackpool. It’s such a fantastic city, steeped in musical heritage. The people are ultra-friendly and really know how to have a good time. To have half the band and audience dancing on the tables at the end of the night was not an unusual occurrence. What really struck you about Blackpool, though, was the community spirit; the way that those in the music scene itself helped each other out. This encourages creativity, originality and that musical heritage.
blankets’ Our Brief Encounters is an album that very nearly never happened; by a band that very nearly were not there to make it. It is Blackpool’s generosity of spirit and community that pulled together to ensure that it did. Band mates Bobby Pook and Simon Morgan had a fire at their home that lost them all their equipment and left Pook with third degree burns to his hands. A Kickstarter campaign started by his friends and the generosity of some of the instrument manufacturers they endorsed helped make Our Brief Encounters happen.
blanket have repaid the faith shown by their friends and community by producing an achingly beautiful post rock album. As a genre it’s always an interesting one to review. For me the real essence of post rock is to create an entire world out of your music, tell a story but also to push yourself and the band to the limits, look for new ways to create that landscape and extend the boundaries. On this five track album blanket have done just that. Post rock is prog rock for the modern era; just without the wizards.
Opening track “Acacia” has a melancholy and a strong sense of trepidation. I feel as though I am about to set out on a journey, one I perhaps do not want to make and for me it is this sense of journey and travel that is the prevailing theme throughout the album. From the quiet and reflective piano intro we are soon introduced to the full on band and shoe-gazey style lyrics. (On the whole the album doesn’t have lyrics but at times vocals are inserted to great effect). It’s expansive, giving one the feeling of travel and adventure. There are touches of Thirteen Sense’s The Invitation about it; especially the interchange between the piano and sweeping sonic rock moments. It also reminds me of bands such as dark rockers The Cranebuilders.
Second track “Tethered” with its spoken word narrative and sparse guitar reminds me more of the darker moments of Mogwai and that traditional post rock sound. The pace is a lot slower here, although the sense of travel is never lost throughout the whole EP.
What is apparent throughout the album is that this is very much one piece of music in five acts or movements. The band have created a very distinct sound and atmosphere. In the third song “Discoveries and Beginnings” the sonic rock aspect is notched up and we have a track that really soars. The overall complexity of the music works very well and none of the ambience is lost as a result.
Our Brief Encounters has brought together (with a little help of friends and the Blackpool music community) four very talented musicians to create this little masterpiece. This is still very early days for blanket and with the evidence of what they have produced so far there are going to be a lot of epic moments to come. Our Brief Encounters takes you on a post rock journey, plays with your emotions and hammers home the intensity of the music to create a soundtrack and story that is cinematic and expansive and reassuringly optimistic in its conclusion. Well worth taking the time to listen to.
Our Brief Encounters is out February 10th