Through their adventurous, yet universally appealing for its Madchester throwback guitar riff concealing ‘Folly EP’ and, their stirring debut album that followed it around four years ago. The humble Simon Phipps led Engineers, slowly carved out a reputation for mood-building and soul searching. They seem to have been doing even more of the latter since then and right from the start of this foraging follow up full length. Through ‘Clean Colour Wire’, they set out more strikingly their down tempo foraging, epic tune structuring and distant, but meaningful vocals.
Spacey instrumentals often start a climb towards the calming, mystified vocals of Phipps. ‘Sometimes I Realise’ bears this out, when Mark Peters’ almost cyclical slow turning bass lines create an air of mystery, providing some direction and beefing up the exploration. A maturing sombreness seeps through the mid-section of this album, setting the tone for meditative pondering especially in ‘Brighter As We Fall’. This is when the vocals remain at a consistent rhythmically pedestrian pace. It almost masks the deep inner searching that’s taking place.
‘Crawl From The Wreckage’, builds with deftness and oozes the expansive confidence of an early Elbow. Careful placing of controlled energy spurts bound out from the jingling percussion base of Sweeney, who continues to control the tempo, as he did in the debut album. Mini-epics and swirling, low-key soundscapes dominate this thirteen track exposure of the ability of music to aid mediation and caress the mind, with the title track neatly highlighting this strand to their approach. It is built upon and a slightly haunting touch is added to it in ‘Song For Andy’. At this stage, you’re either totally immersed in the Engineers’ psyche or you’re getting bored and will need to have a Rubik’s cube handy to maintain your concentration.
Hues of atmospheric guitars move in and out of the vocals like Tevez does with a ball at his feet and cones in front of him, at Manchester City’s training ground. ‘Be What You Are’, parades this facet of their approach with impunity, as well as containing a Mogwai veined, atmospheric instrumental gloss. As an album, the overall impact of ‘Three Fact Fader’, given the concentration required to fully understand its purpose/meaning and to appreciate the musical nooks and crannies, renders this to be a domain for die-hards and purists.