By Taylor Ritchie
In an attempt to bring electronica music back to basics and away from the synthetic influence of today’s computer influence, multi-instrumentalist Mark Peters embarked on a passion project to write and record his group Engineers’ fourth album, Always Returning, utilizing bare essentials.
Initially written and recorded in entirety by Peters alone, and then glossed over with the percussion and electronic instrumental touches of his bandmates using a single take of drums and seventies-era processor in favor of computers, this album is special in the sense that it was created in a very bare bones form, and left at that—yet still possess as good, if not better, of an electronic sound than many of today’s electronica artists that create their music almost entirely with the help of computers.
The sound is melodic, colorful, and dream-like with Peters’ vocals in particular offering a very surreal experience for the listener. My favorite tracks are “Bless the Painter”, “It Rings So True”, and especially the instrumental “Innsbruck”, primarily because all three offer the most exemplary forms of bare electronica that the band is trying to portray here. The only gripe I have with the sound is the lack of variation. While the vocals are good and the songs are appealing as standalone tracks, they all tend to bleed together and become a bit monotonous when listened to in succession.
Overall, however, Engineers have successfully achieved a pleasant, euphoric, electronica sound sans the aid of modern technology, and will likely appeal to fans of The Postal Service, Iron & Wine, The Shins, and Pinback. While listening to the entire album in its entirety might be a bit mundane, “Bless the Painter”, “It Rings So True”, and “Innsbruck” are certainly worth adding to your regular playlist.