Always Returning by Engineers (KScope Records)
Until speaking with electronic producer Ulrich Schnauss for an interview for the last album A Long Way To Fall, the music of Mark Peters and his band Engineers had flown under my radar. Little did I know how much I’d love his music. The band is multi-instrumentalist Peters, Schnauss and drummer/keyboardist Matthew Gilbert Lindley (who releases music as “Gilbert“). Always Returning is full of pretty songs that would float off into the clouds if it weren’t for the talents behind their making. There’s a sense of sadness and longing permeating the album giving many songs a compelling emotional weight.
One of the many incredible songs on Always Returning is Fight or Flight where synths swell and wash over the song, electronics perco-lating and dancing throughout. One of the most blissful songs you’ll likely hear for years to come. It Rings So True showcases a mesmerizing guitar lead, lightly accompanied by keyboards, Peters’ close-mic’ed voice drawing you in and building suspense and mystery. The final minute of the song is an understated prog rock masterpiece.
Drive Your Car begins with pretty piano and Peters’ quiet vocals, acoustic guitar and swirling synths join in, rising into a rocking climax with a buzzing electric guitar lead dueling with an energetic piano performance. Innsbruck presents a tight and bright guitar pattern that is played off of by Schnauss’ keyboards and powerful drumming by Linley. The song is reminiscent of New Order’s instrumental Thieves Like Us with its cautious optimism and colorful outbursts of guitar and piano.
Smiling Back is a hazy nostalgic song with echoes of early Pink Floyd in their slower more introspective moments. On Smoke and Mirrors Peters’ piano and guitar and Schnauss’ motorik synth loops meld wonderfully. A Million Voices is a straight-up rock song, though one coming from the corner of synth-pop, Peters’ whispy vocals float through a peppy beat, shiny keyboards and a thrumming bass guitar.
Closing Always Returning, the title track offers so many memorable melodies that I found myself humming the piano refrain this morning. The song somehow sounds both sad and uplifting until the final third where the guitars, bass and piano riff off each other fading into the heavens.
Peters and Schnauss have also collaborated on two albums under their own names. Both albums released on Bureau B, link below.
(Review by Bret Miller)