The first record by Landing in six years starts with a steady rumbling of bass, an insistent drum riff, spacey keys, and chiming guitar. Then Aaron and Adrienne Snow come in, singing in harmony. Finally is the appropriate title of this tune (as in, we FINALLY get a new Landing record), and it is a really pretty song. Plus, it gets right to the point. The revived Landing is a no-nonsense kind of band. I mean, just look at the track listing: nine songs in 41 minutes? Are you kidding? Way back in 2001 i reviewed their second album Oceanless and the last two tracks of that album alone are longer than this entire album! Landing have transformed from a meandering psychedelic jam band into a keyboard-driven krautrockish powerhouse. No Connecticutian stoner meanderings here, it's all Teutonic efficiency propelling things along.
And of course, this album is a natural progression from 2006's Gravitational IV, the album in which Adrienne Snow's keyboards took more of a center stage and Daron Gardner's drumming increased just a bit, becoming a little more forceful and precise. I like that record a lot, and listened to it pretty regularly for a while. Landing are still meditative at times, but there is an efficiency to their current sound that was lacking in the unhurried pace they moved under back in the days of multiple 21 minute songs on an album.
After that promising intro, Adrienne kicks off Heavy Gloss with a little keyboardy noodling, before Gardner comes in with a slow progression of really deep drum hits. The song grows nicely, Adrienne singing in her subdued voice. There is a moment of sheer beauty, where the guitar and bass and drums part, just kind of fading away as the keyboards swell up with "aahing" chorus noises and spacey sound effects soaring... And then suddenly it cuts to a syncopated drum machine and the bass echoing like something from early U2, only sparser and not as angry as Adam Clayton. Aaron Snow's guitar comes in, an insistent little riff, to be joined by his wife's keys as they drone in, loud and early 1980s, followed by her voice coming in layers. They have transitioned to Heart Finds the Beat, and this song is Landing making an energetic synthpop tune. This is the gothiest i have ever heard Landing. This song could have been played in teenage dance clubs in 1987, and i would have bounced along happily, my dyed orange hair flopping, as this song was sandwiched between The Cure and New Order. Great stuff, and that sudden transition between the two songs is amazing.
The electro trend continues with Crows, which starts with a drum machine beat and noodling guitars, Aaron Snow sings lightly as the song tinks along, delicately and in no real hurry. Aside from the new (for them) drum machine rhythm, this would not have been out of place at the end of Seasons, or perhaps on Passages Through.
Gardner is back on the drums on Like the Tide, but it is bassist Dick Baldwin who shines here, playing a deep thunking riff while Aaron and Adrienne noodle away, and then sing in harmony. This is a kind of sparse and delicate tune, but the rhythm section drives it along forcefully, almost like Gardner and Baldwin are trying to herd the Snow's along, make them focus and keep the songs going... Eventually Aaron stomps on the overdrive pedal, and the song fades out to guitar squeal.
If you bought this record on vinyl, like i did, here is where you get up to turn it over, after letting the last lingering guitar squeal hang in the air.
Side B kicks off with Decades, Gardner playing a scattered almost jazzy percussion that reminds me of late Talk Talk, while Baldwin picks a monotonous riff and Aaron's guitar tinkles and the synths burble and flow. Adrienne sings lightly here, as the song sort of cruises along slowly. Landing pick up the pace for We Lie In Fields, where a scattered drum machine hit drives the echoed guitar and spacey synths along. Aaron sings here, his guitar echoing almost like The Edge on The Unforgettable Fire.
The drumming fades almost completely away on Migration, a song that is more drone than anything else on this album. Synths and guitars meander along, just reverbing. This is one that will turn off some of their listeners.
And finally things end on a real high note with Native Land. Drums click steadily as Adrienne sings, with Aaron aahing in the background. The song has a groovy little beat, Baldwin's bass a thick steady thunk that drives the album to a close.
Every time i listen to this record, i just lose myself in it. There is a lot going on here, and the whole album ebbs and flows nicely. I really like this record. It might be the best album of Landing's career. Of course, i tend to say that about whatever album they have just released.
Still, the band have produced an interesting work.