Many followers of the British music scene were distraught when both Pitchshifter and earthtone 9 broke up, within a short time of each other. Some were then less distraught to learn that members of both bands were involved in a new project called The Blueprint. However, despite releasing two high-quality EPs (this one, and [url=http://www.musicianforums.com/forums/showthread.php"p=3058194#post3058194]Ecliptic[/url]), The Blueprint have received very little in the way of praise, or even criticism. So, this is me attempting to turn the tide.
The member of earthtone 9 who shows up here is the vocalist, Karl Middleton, who is, for my money, one of the best vocalists around. Pitchshifter is represented by Matt Grundy on guitar, and I believe Mark Clayden was part of The Blueprint, but is no longer any more. The rest of the band is now made up of:
..though I have no idea if this was the line-up at the time of recording this EP, just that it is now.
Note that zero*zero*one is only an EP, and as such is only 6 tracks long (and two of those are fillers).
One of the things which is likely to be decisive in whether you like the band, is Karl Middleton's vocal style. He has two main methods; semi-melodic singing, which is often used for the chorus (if you're familiar with ET9, the style I'm referring to is that used more on Omega, compared to their earlier stuff), and harsh, shouting vocals, mostly used for verses and the frantic bridges/outros his bands do so well. Like I said, he's one of my favourite vocalists, so I have no problem with it.
The rest of the band..the bass and drums seem to me to be very influenced by Pitchshifter, even if the musicians aren't originally from there. I can't really describe it beyond that. The guitars are where I think it really gets interesting, as they seem to be a clash of styles between Pitchshifter and ET9; sometimes it's the mechanical, rhythmic riffing a la Slip, and sometimes, the wilder, more experimental ET9 style guitars, which seem to be running away from the core of the song, but never lose it completely. The fact that there are two guitarists allows for some great interplay between them, on the more complex tracks (mostly, however, found on Ecliptic rather than here). One final thing to mention is that Pitchshifter's influence is heard in electronics, which feature fairly prominently, though not overwhelmingly, in The Blueprint.
The opening track of The Blueprint's debut release is one of my favourites. It starts with a quick electronic intro, and a building tone, before erupting into what could be called the Blueprint's blueprint. Karl's vocals are almost all early-earthtone style shouting, which is how I love them. The guitar chugs throughout most of the song, and the drums have some impressive moments. Technically it's not amazing, but the emotion and energy just sweep me along, usually with the verses/bridges rather than choruses. The song ends with Karl chanting "The needle points..points to ten below nil!". I only have a vague idea of what the lyrics are, so I won't make an attempt to decipher them.
This is the first Blueprint track I heard…I have no idea what "Consafos"means, but the song's lyrics are great. I take them to be about being an outsider, or being something other than the norm..an example being:
nothing but contempt for the usual,
A fragment sets the circle,
Capturing the radical,
Rewriting the manual.
The guitars in this track follow the mechanical pattern of Pitchshifter more, and Karl uses his more melodic vocals for the chorus. The drums again have some good moments – they never seem to take precedence in a song, but content themselves with cool little moments here and there. There is again a breakdown/bridge to end the song with; I fuc
king love it when they do that.
As the name suggests, this the first of the two filler tracks. It is basically 3 minutes of various ambient electronica. It's good to relax to, but not what I listen to The Blueprint for. I think they included the Interludes in order to emphasise that this was an EP, by keeping the number of "real" songs down to four. Either that, or to emphasise the name of the band, which sounds fairly electronic and mechanic as it is. For whatever reason it was done, it was done by Karl Middleton and Matt Grundy (they're listed as those who do the electronics).
Anatomy of a Hero
The longest track here, and my favourite. I found my hook for listening to this song in the rhythmic riffing at the start, which is followed by a roar from Middleton and a change in riff. The vocals sound urgent all the way through the track, and the lyrics naturally look at the anatomy of a hero ("more vibrant than any sun") is one of my favourite descriptions), but also on his perishibility ("another pretender for the effigy) and...as though the searching never ends..make of it what you will, I won't bother putting my ideas down. There is an excellent instrumental breakdown towards the end of the song, though not without time for another full chorus before the end.
(Reclamation Program (Interlude)
The second ambient electronica track. Just look at the other one for any information.
Out of the Black
Probably the most melodic track on here, but its my least favourite on the CD (apart from the Interludes). There is a hint of the squalling guitar that would go on to be used so well on Ecliptic in the intro, but in my opinion, the instruments drown out Karl's voice a bit too much on the verses. There is a fairly great instrumental bit (with the squalling guitar and more melody than the rest of the song) before the last chorus. The song ends well with Karl shouting "Out of the black!".
Overall, I'd give it a 3.5/5, though note that that's only really in comparison to the other EPs. Strongly recommended for fans of Pitchshifter and ET9.