Thursday 17 July 2014

Blurred City Lights - Anamorphic

Album review by KevW

Both Jarek Leśkiewicz and Dean Garcia are known for their work in other bands. The former as Naked On My Own and the later, more famously, with both Curve and SPC ECO. So Blurred City Lights is largely the collaborative project of these two writers, musicians, producers and vocalists, although there are also contributions from Rose Berlin and Russell Keeble on new album 'Anamorphic', which follows on from last year's 'Neon Lights' EP. Given their past, we should expect something that doesn't really fall into line and probably takes a modern and electronic approach to post-rock and shoegaze, and that's pretty much the size of it.

At first, 'Anamorphic' is impressive without necessarily grabbing you by the lugholes and wowing the socks off you; by the time you reach the end it's difficult to remember exactly how any particular song went, but that doesn't mean it's short on hooks. It does mean though, that it may take a few plays for the album to really come alive, although it's certainly worth it in the end. Certain songs like 'Try' (of which there are two versions) do possess a grace that's apparent from the start, with big, echoing beats and swooshing synths that are the bed on which they lay some soft vocals and a twilight melody. It's quite indicative of the overall style of the record and is perhaps a good first port of call being that bit more instantly accessible and impressive. Another possible entry point if you want to test the waters before you dive in is the short but expansive instrumental 'OP4', another that gives a good impression of where the band are coming from, whereas their darker side comes through on trip-hop track 'Don't Know Don't Feel' with its samples and forbidding atmosphere.

Elsewhere, tracks like 'Too Far Gone' are what Massive Attack would sound like if they'd been based in the Eastern Bloc and not Bristol. Like all of these songs, it's deeply atmospheric and the attention to detail is almost impeccable. The dubby but cold vibe sees them cross more musical borders, especially when Rose's vocals kick in and suddenly warm the song, changing the dynamic slightly. 'Chained' takes a heavier approach and could be described as electro-rock but there are heavy post-rock overtones and sheets of sound piled on top of each other. Perhaps 'Small Fears Magnified' is a better example of experimental electro-rock. Their more ambient side shows on 'The Look', yet it's ambient without being dull, and the guitar sends it skyward. What at first seems a reasonably one-dimensional album, albeit a very carefully considered one, soon becomes far more colourful and absorbing than you expect. Afford Blurred City Lights a little time and you will reap the rewards.

Blurred City Lights' website

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