23 September 2005

engineers - "song to the siren" (from dream brother : the songs of tim & jeff buckley, available for preorder as an import here.)

in brief : british nu-gazers navigate middle path between liz fraser's scylla and the elder buckley's charybdis.

england's engineers--no "the," it's not 2000 anymore--have been described by your correspondent as nu-gaze, which isn't exactly accurate, but, damn, it's handy. they make incredibly atmospheric and, at times, noisy rock w/ v. limited use of guitar, or, at least, use of guitar in the way mbv, ride, lush, &c. manipulated it. in that way, they're closer to the slowdive/chapterhouse camp. their debut, one of my favorite records of the year, has been making waves in the uk, and, thus, they were drafted for this tribute to the buckleys.

the elephant in the room w/r/t "song to the siren," even more than the spectre of tim himself, is the version by liz fraser and this mortal coil. engineers attempt to forget that version ever existed, a hard thing for them to do since arguably they wouldn't sound as they do if not for the cocteaus. whereas the original cover, so to speak, utilized spaciousness as a musical device, the engineers' cover piles sound on top of sound, the provenance of those sounds indeterminable to these ears. it's neither loud nor aggressive, instead it is insistent, buzzing and droning. the melody, too, strays from fraser's, adhering to the original. the singing is exactly what one would hear on an engineers record: perfectly impeturbable, no stress, no strain, no vibrato. it's not a rough sea, then, that the listener navigates, but, my, it is beguiling.

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