Inspired by the likes of A Crash Course In Science and Throbbing Gristle, Tunnels (real name Nick Bindeman, from Eternal Tapestry and Jackie-O Motherfucker) is focused on creating vintage sounding electronic post-punk. And his influences are writ large on this debut album.
The sounds of the past may be all of this record but to modern ears this sounds like a much more distorted angular Metronomy and really reminds me of early 2000s wünderkid Zongamin (whatever happened to?). Regardless, Bindeman's real influences are clear and any similarity is more a result of shared references rather than one following the other.
In reality The Blackout is darker than either of the aforementioned artists, harking back to the stark darkness of early eighties industrial post-punk. The ten songs here feel a world away from the jaunty melodies of Metronomy's electro-pop. Bindeman's vocals are monotone, obscured by a melancholic bass guitar and scratchy guitars - the lyrics are usually barely audible but even so one suspects they don't tell a happy tale.
As a piece of music this is an interesting listen rather than an enjoyable one - the production is challenging and whilst the album is brief in duration at 30 minutes it's difficult not to feel a little trapped and isolated by the closing in walls of static. It's a little like trying to walk through pitch black: there are no waypoints or guiding lights here and it is easy to feel lost.
The Blackout may be a great tribute to some of the best innovators that emerged in the early eighties post-punk scene, a trip back early industrial and experimental electronic sounds. As good as it is, it's a hard thing to love.
The Blackout is out on Monday 29 August on Thrill Jockey, available for pre-order from Amazon.co.uk on LP [affiliate link].