Landing Brocade

[Strange Attractors; 2005]

Rating: 2/5

Styles: krautrock, ambient, shoegaze, drone, psych
Others: Tangerine Dream, White Rainbow, Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom

Landing has always been a mixed bag of ghostly. Beside largely ephemeral, multi-layered shoegaze mists were placed slightly more earthbound folk-tinged ballads. Their last release, Sphere, showed a new development in their variation with a driving, metronomic, psych-rock ditty called "Fluency of Colors." There is a similar detour on their new album (the even more Can-like "Loft"), but rather than nine surrounding tracks of disembodied vocals and luscious swirling guitars, we've got four comparatively spare ambient epics, somewhat in the vein of New Age of Earth or Phaedra.

They put their best drift forward with the first two entries, "Loft" and "Yon." Both manage to suck you into trances that, while not as enveloping as previous ethers, are subtly stirring enough. But like the aforementioned krautrockers, the finale, "Music for Three Synthesizers," edges numbingly close to Pure Moods territory. And "Spiral Arms" is just about the most shiftless, wide-open space the band has ever plundered. Its intertwining guitar and keyboard figures dully progress with some obligatory sounding gusts of synth-wind. While remaining studious and Zen-like, the track wears out its welcome well before its 13-minute runtime is up. The blasé, tentative nature of the exercise suggests that it might've made a better interlude than a centerpiece. "Yon" is a similarly simple track, but it will no doubt please those who have been following this band's output from their inception. It's got that great iridescent Landing guitar tone and is as buzzingly livid and lovely as it is basic in structure.

While Landing has never been anything to praise from mountaintops, their albums nonetheless displayed a sonic mastery of the haziest of shoegaze forms without flat-out copping the source material. Yet something feels kinda drab about this foray. Another possible, additional exception could be the driving Kinski-like rocker, "How To Be Clear." It's a bracing number, and the only standard length track on the disc. But aside from bridging nicely into the guided meditation waftings of "Music for Three Synthesizers," it feels even more pointless than "Spiral Arms." In this case, they just sound like Kinski rather than Landing with a touch of the space rock overdrive. So I'm sad to say that, unless you're hurting for some inoffensive celestial wallpaper, this is not a Landing LP worth recommending.

Seems the long-form album approach worked for them less than I would've hoped. Come to think of it, the blandness of this CD makes me wonder if I wasn't maybe overselling the group all along. Yet, while their music was always sort of indulgently airy, the considerably denser feel of their previous releases seemed to suit them a lot better. I'd embrace a new direction for the group, if only I heard something in the way of innovation to latch on to. As it is, Brocade just feels like a yawning misstep for an otherwise dependable shoegaze act.

1. Loft
2. Yon
3. Spiral Arms
4. How To Be Clear
5. Music for Three Synthesizers

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