It hardly seems any time at all since the last Landing album came out, back in the summer. ‘Third Sight’ was such an immediate hit with me when I heard it, as it obviously was with my fellow writer J Hubner, who reviewed it at the time (click here) and wrote:
“Third Sight is a beautiful escape from reality. It envelopes you into a cloud of repeating motifs and escalating white noise. Landing make these kaleidoscopes of sound that feel impressionistic and avante garde at the same time. Saying it’s ambient music takes some of the heaviness and headiness this great band creates away, so I’ll call what they make dream psych. Third Sight feels and sounds like an epiphany. Simple, yet all encompassing.”
Well here we are less than six months later and another Landing album has touched down, the New Haven, Connecticut band’s tenth, and I am happy to report that this productivity has in no way been at the expense of quality. This is once again a beautiful sonic study that transcends the genre that are often associated with the band – shoegaze, space rock, dream pop – leaving them some how redundant as terms in their wake. However, this album does not just transcend genre, it is in and of itself transcendent…almost translucent.
From the album’s opener, ‘Light’, which drifts into focus in an iridescent manner suggesting simplicity and minimalism, the album is a wonderful study of minimalist melancholia, from the long meditative pulses of ‘Thither’, through the understated beauty of ‘Shifts’ with its liquid music and beautiful silky vocals, to the long immersive experience of ‘Glow’ this really is an album that empathises with you and envelopes you.
Nowhere is this more so that with lead track ‘Clouds II’ which feels so simple on one level, yet also seems to combine a complexity and spaciness that it strikes me is very difficult to achieve. It is a track that melts away all the cares of the world and has you soaring through the clouds of the title, and Adrienne Snow’s vocals are simply sublime. Just lovely.
‘World’ at times feels just perfect, the sonic equivalent of a roaring fire on a dark winter’s day, it warms you though and gives you some light with which to see; here Aaron Snow’s vocals do the same sort of thing for me as John Grant’s used to when he was in the Czars. In fact I think this is one of the things for which I particularly appreciate Landing, because they occupy the same place in my musical listening as bands like The Czars did in the 90s, and that for me is a big complement.
The album isn’t all minimalist melancholia though, the title track is a much rockier number that would only work early on in the set, and is perfectly placed as a second track after ‘Light’ which acts as a sort of overture to the album. ‘Complekt’ is full of fuzzy guitar and shoegaze references without every tipping over into the raucous, and provides a much needs additional dimension to what’s on offer here; preventing it from tipping over into being too introvert and narrow.
Along with ‘Third Sight’ this is the album of 2016 that I will listen to when things are not particularly OK. These Landing albums are not panaceas against what seems to be an increasingly troubled world, but they do offer sanctuary for a time; they somehow take you away from the turbulence and enable you to see it through a sonic membrane which gives you space to think and be. They will become essential parts of my listening over the next few years I am sure.