Landing Sphere

[K; 2004]

Rating: 4.5/5

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

Aaron and Adrienne's vocals sound uncannily like Ira and Georgia on the propulsive (!) opener "Fluency of Colors." The song contains the usual infinitely soaring, overprocessed guitars but is anchored on a steady, head-nodding beat. Other artists have made wonderful songs that sound very much like their peers, so the comparison isn't a criticism. But it's not quite what I expected on a Landing album. It seems that the band have brought in the reigns a little, allowing their vast aural intoxication to come down to earth a bit.

The next two tracks wouldn't be radically out of place on their previous releases, but you still get a distinct feeling that the group is trying to focus a bit more. Some would argue that the kind of music they specialize in is supposed to be ungrounded, but tell that to Auburn Lull. On Lull's most recent album, the group managed to marry heady atmospherics with memorable melodic progressions in a sublimely harmonious fashion. With Sphere, it appears that Landing are following suit. It's not until about halfway through that the more pronounced balladry of Passages Through ("To See You", "It Is Shining") comes up with the sorrowful "Where the Leaves..." There are still waves of feedback and echo underneath, but this is the folkier, purely Landing side of the group. Though it needs to be said that the band and their ilk (Surface of Eceyon, Yume Bitsu) do the heavenly swirling trills and washes sound better than most anyone else out there today.

Those who've enjoyed their recordings up to now will find much to rejoice in here. This is fantastic, mind-reeling headphone music for long train or bus rides. It is sedate, yet surges with some fantastic primordial, earth's core lavaswim. Aside from "Fluency of Colors" and "Where the Leaves," highlights include the overwhelming, ominous title track as well as the tender, serene "Filament," featuring Adrienne Snow's fragile, child-like voice on its own. The three "Gravitational" segments spread throughout the release showcase the group's more detached, spacey side to intoxicating effect. The last song seems a bit anticlimactic considering the strength of the surging, moody opener. It's nice enough, but feels a bit like how it would if you were to take spare parts from the rest of the album and throw together something passable. Other than that, you can't go wrong here if you appreciate dreamy, multi-textured mellow rock.
1. Fluency of Colors
2. Gravitational I
3. Into Silence
4. Gravitational II
5. Where the Leaves...
6. Solstice
7. Sphere
8. Filament
9. Gravitational III
10. Feel and the Seas Fill

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