I fell in love with Blueneck as soon as I heard them. I heard their song “Man Of Lies” when I was listening through the mammoth Post Engineering compilation that came out last year. That was it – I was hooked. I looked up Blueneck’s Bandcamp page and purchased their catalogue.
The Outpost (Denovali Records) is Blueneck’s sixth studio album, and latest since 2014’s King Nine. It is also well worth a listen.
The Outpost was first planned as a side-project from singer-songwriter Duncan Attwood and guitarist
Rich Sadler, before it became truely realised as a full Blueneck release. How did the two of them come up with such an expansive sound? Herein lies some of the wonders of digital instruments. And although I usually prefer “real” instruments above their electronic counterparts, I must admit that Blueneck do a stellar job. Everything works together in cohesion to complement each part that makes up the ambient soundscape.
I’d appreciate slightly less autotuning, but Duncan Attwood’s vocals are standout and enhance the tender ballads dramatically. He borders on whispering at times, just loud enough for you to hear the hurt. His melancholy is almost tangible in “Hypnos”.
Opening track “From Beyond” features a drum track that reminds me of Phil Collins’ signature hit “In The Air Tonight”. Like in Collins’ song, the drum track helps to build suspense as we escalate into a climax. The song slowly transforms into a synthetic, industrial feeling track, with autotuned vocals, heavy reverb and a tortured screaming crescendo. This well-crafted masterpiece sets the tone for the album beautifully.
Next up is lead single “Ghosts”. It takes me back to when I first heard “Man Of Lies” and reminds me of why I first fell in love with Blueneck. Like “From Beyond”, this track just gets better as it progresses. The catchy chanted bridge leads into a gorgeous high-pitched guitar riff, before dynamically reverting back to the sparse piano mantra that first tied the song together.
An underlying tension boils beneath many of these tracks, coated with an ethereal glossy veneer. I love how Blueneck walk the line so well – balancing the calm solemnity with the awesome distorted moments. One great example is the during the spacious bridge in “The White Ship” that leaves us hanging. It’s so empty, but full of promise, because you know that this ambient segment is going to end with something huge.
We hear everything you’d expect to hear from most major post-rock releases: swirling riffs, big swells, crashing crescendos. There’s great guitar playing and brilliant drumming, as well as the haunting vocals which are rare to find within this genre. But somehow this album seems to pack more than the sum of its parts. Something is immediately enticing and accessible, despite the depressing nature of the lyrics, and the longer playtimes of half the tracks.
The Outpost is an incredibly moody album. There is such stunning beauty in the music, topped with Attwood’s mournful vocals. If you like eerie post-rock drawing on electronica and saturated in feeling then I suggest you give Blueneck a listen.
The Outpost is out via Denovali Records on 25 November