For some, music is used as a form of escapism. It allows us to get lost in someone else’s work and art. We can become entranced in their ideas and how a band has carefully crafted their music. With blanket, you are guaranteed to do just that. Their debut EP, ‘Our Brief Encounters’, takes you on a blissful journey of cinematic post-rock. However, this accomplishment has come at a price. For frontman Bobby Pook, the EP evolved into a cathartic project after suffering 3rd degree burns on his hands after the house he shared with guitarist Simon Morgan caught fire last summer. Having time to reflect on his situation following the fire, Pook was spurred on to make the project the best it could be.
“It made us just want to give it our all. We had put a lot of money and time into the band already, but the fire and hospital gave me a lot of time to think and a lot of time to talk to the other guys and I realised we shared the same belief to do things properly,” says Bobby from his North West base.
“I personally am the proudest I’ve ever been about anything I’ve been involved with.”
The band’s formation started last February, Pook had been writing a film soundtrack, while his housemate was working on his solo project (Beneath The Watchful Eyes). However, when the pair found some free time they got together to write EP lead off single ‘Starlight Filled Our Minds’. Despite the housefire momentarily stopping the creation of the EP, bassist Matthew Sheldon and drummer Steven Pellatt joined the band soon after.
‘Our Brief Encounters’ rides a beautiful wave of post-rock, yet it might be a stylistic departure to some who are familiar with Pook’s previous bands Me vs Hero and Downers. Nevertheless, Pook and company sound firmly at home in blanket. “I think with blanket it’s a strange one,” says Pook. “We love it and I personally am the proudest I’ve ever been about anything I’ve been involved with.”
While the band’s audio output has proven to be stunning, the visual side of blanket is equally as impressive as Pook used his videography skills. It’s an element that is key to the band as he explains, “the visuals are vital to this band. I don’t doubt we could pull off a set without them. The idea behind the band was to be an audio/visual project, and as it’s written with a film soundtrack feel. We try and push them as much as possible.”
‘Our Brief Encounters’ isn’t just a collection of five tracks, it is 26 minutes of textured post-rock that seamlessly ebbs and flows. The combination of Pook’s dreamy vocals and film (‘Lost In Translation)’) and TV (‘The Office’) samples serve as the narration, taking you on an emotional journey made up of trepidation, self-doubt, personal awareness, relief and hope. While subtle electronics add to the band’s layered sound. From the apprehensive tone of ‘Acacia’ to the spiralling, uplifting ‘Discoveries and Beginnings’ to the awe-inspiring finale that is ‘To The Skies’, ‘Our Brief Encounters’ is one of the 2017’s most compelling releases so far.
In regards to the EP being treated as a body of work, Pook tells us “it is absolutely designed to be listened to like that. Grant (Berry – recorded/mastered) and Lewis (Johns – mixed) helped us create them in a way that takes the listener on a journey of sorts. Until now, we have played the set as one continuous track also.”
When asked about influences, it’s not surprising to hear Pook highlight some of the genre’s biggest names. “I’ve loved Sigur Ros for years and that’s probably quite apparent. the other guys came from post-rock bands and introduced me to bands like This Will Destroy You and Caspian. I really love Circa Survive and I think that come across on the record too.”
Although they only have a handful of shows under their belt, we get the feeling that blanket’s shows promise to be a spectacle, as they take advantage of their multimedia skills. “Our live set is intense. We have visuals which are synced to our set,” says Bobby. “Originally we started playing with a short throw projector in front of the stage and made the venues turn off all the lights, which worked great. I think it creates a more immersive experience for the viewer. While with the help of Lewis from The Ranch, we basically sound like a more energetic and intense version of the record live. We are looking into stage mapping and all sorts at the moment to try and enhance the live experience.”
Moving forward, blanket continue work on a full-length, as ‘Our Brief Encounters’ has provided them with a canvas to expand. “We have evolved and improved in so many ways. The songs on ‘Our Brief Encounters’ were written mostly as demo’s by Simon and I, whereas every new song has had input from the whole band, and most importantly we’ve written them in a room together” explains Bobby. “We’ve been playing around with vocoders, time signatures, loads of textures and ambiences. I’d be surprised if it doesn’t blow people’s minds to be honest, even though that might sound a little arrogant.”
Having pulled off an awe-inspiring debut release, blanket’s potential is cinematic in its size and sound. And we can’t wait to see what they do next.
‘Our Brief Encounters’ by blanket is released on 10th February.
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Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)