Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep: Engine7 : "Hope Street"

Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep

Friday, July 14, 2006

Engine7 : "Hope Street"

Scotland, for such a small nation, has a prolific record of producing outstanding musicians. Look no further than world famous bands Mogwai, Primal Scream, Idlewild and Teenage Fanclub to name but a few.

Glasgow, its largest city, is just as famed for its legendary clubs, venues and its culture, as it is for being one of Europe's leading murder capitals. Contrasting the beautiful architecture around the city centre and west end, there is an underlying current of deprivation, danger and depression.

It is the latter, that Glasgow based musician Alan McNeil, under his recording name Engine7 , draws his inspiration for his third release "Hope Street". According to his press release, Engine7 states "Hope Street is in Glasgow. It's the most polluted street in Europe. Busses, beggars and blood. No hope here".

This may have you thinking this is a sparse, desolate release. You couldn't be more wrong. What you have here is a carefully constructed Ep bringing to mind the beauty and tranquility of Sigur Ros, the inventiveness of Four Tet or Helios and the ambiance of Pan American or Labradford. Look no further than stand-out track "Fake Blizzard (Buildings Falling)". Lightly plucked guitars combine with synths, rhodes-style piano and gentle beats to create a track of stunning beauty. The interspersed voices, way back in the mix, give this track a certain edge and underlying tension, "treading the line between paranoia and peace". Although very understated, the melody of "Fake Blizzard" wraps itself in your heart and refuses to leave.

Glitchy beats and treated vocals are the order of the day in opener "Dubpatches (Too Many Times)". The track builds steadily like "being on a train in a storm". The vocals are tentative as the beats become more pronounced, reminding me slightly of Bola, had he explored more ambient themes.

However, name checking all sorts of artists is all well and good, Engine7 has plenty to offer himself suggesting this is a very unique release. There is a real cinematic quality to each of the tracks. "Stella, We're Sorry (Snow Peas)" is built around an sample from a English learning program. It is highly amusing listening to the sampled kids trying to pronounce the words as the music compliments them with driving drums and lovely synths. A very clever and highly original track.

Praise from the likes of Sigur Ros and Julien Neto has enhanced Engine7 reputation no end, but a main support slot with The Orb last month shows just how highly regarded he is. His Ep is an ambitious effort discussing issues, such as people's struggle to have a "less painful life". The cover art is a picture of rainclouds, but as Engine7 points out, are they forming or subsiding?.

"Lohan (Filtered Flutes)", is an ambient piece that has exotic sounding instruments throughout, evoking images of a dense South American rainforest. A far cry form the busy streets of Glasgow. Static beats become more apparent and frantic in the mix, before subsiding back to peace and tranquilly.

Closing track, "You'll See (Ghosts On Tape), starts with, funnily enough, ghostly vocals from Engine7 and a spectral background, while low frequency vocal samples weave in and out. As the song slowly disintegrates to an end, the listener is left wondering has the "storm" subsided.

Throughout his previous releases up until the current"Hope Street", Engine7 has evolved and is continually progressing, creating beautifully crafted, cinematic electronic music. As people strive for a better life, Engine7 strives to make his music more beautiful than ever.

"Hope Street" is scheduled for release through Itunes, Napster and any other Download Store. However, until then you can download it free from the Engine7 website, but for a limited time only. Furthermore, please check out this new Glasgow recording collective Palooka, who will also be releasing Engine7's work.

His first full album, as yet untitled, is almost completed and he has been working with Swedish dream-rockers Immanu-el during the recording process. He also has a couple of remixes scheduled which he will post here, and has completed one for Malota.

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