Admittedly, I jumped at the chance to review blanket‘s first record when I saw that their influences include the likes of Sigur Ros, Caspian and This Will Destroy You, even before hearing their debut track, ‘Starlight Filled Our Minds‘ which I was subsequently blown away by. The brand new Blackpool four-piece aim to deliver an ambient, sweeping soundscape and with their debut mini-album Our Brief Encounters, there’s no doubt in them achieving that.
The fragility of the record really plays on the mind knowing that there was a high chance of it never being finished. Guitarists Bobby Pook and Simon Morgan’s equipment was destroyed as fire tore through their house share last year. Pook suffered severe 3rd degree burns to his hands, so it was left hanging in the balance whether he would ever be able to play music again. Thankfully, this was not the case and the generosity of the music community came through via a Kickstarter campaign started by his girlfriend which allowed the equipment to be replaced.
‘Acacia’ begins the journey with spacey synth tones and delicate piano chords. Subtle but powerful tremolo compliments frontman Pook’s (formerly of Me Vs Hero) interjections of soft vocal tones. Next, gentle keys guide the way through ‘Tethered’, accompanied by a touching spoken passage from 2003’s film Lost In Translation, the soft simmer of percussion bringing the song to a close. The excerpt emphasizes even more so the cinematic soundscape that post-rock creates. Like in many post-rock records, Pook’s wispy vocals are not the centerpiece of this EP, but instead part of the cogs in the background that create an immersive experience.
‘Discoveries and Beginnings’ is where blanket really start to find their feet. Choral harmonies follow into a cosmic introduction which grows into a repeating hook, subtly building before reaching a small eruption of a tremolo crescendo, after which comes another heartwarming spoken sample from an interesting source – Andy from The Office!
Alongside drowned down vocals, the crunchy guitar exposition on penultimate track, ‘Starlight Filled Our Minds’, also hints at shoe-gazey style influences, while final track, ‘To The Skies’ ends the album with incredible impact. It seems to compile all the elements of previous songs into one meticulously layered score.
blanket’s mini-album debut is a perfect example of musicians who have already been round the block a few times managing to find their feet in a different venture, and very successfully so. Hopefully a full length album will follow suit as it’s quite possible they are going to be one of your new post-rock favourites.
Our Brief Encounters is out on February 10th.