Landing - "Passages Through"
(K Records 2003, KLP146)
From Aural Innovations #24 (July 2003)
Landing has two sides to their sound: the dreamy, hazy, and mysterious instrumental improvisation of releases such as Oceanless (2001) and Fade In/Fade Out (2002), and the more focused song writing, and acoustic guitar oriented music of last year’s Seasons. On their latest, Passages Through Light, they create the most successful merger of both of those styles that they have done to date. But whereas last year’s efforts from Landing had a somewhat darker tone to them, Passages Through almost literally shimmers with a warm, summery glow.
Things get off to a calming start with the vaporous haze of Wings of Light, with its airy layers of guitars and Adrienne Snow’s beautiful, wistful voice. But surprisingly, the lushness gives way halfway through its 9-minute length to a beautifully weightless, and quite minimalist meditation featuring softly picked guitar notes and drifting atmospherics. Hold Me Under is possibly the strongest "song" the band has ever written. Sung by Aaron Snow in hushed tones (with Adrienne joining him on harmony vocals), this is a standout on the album. Close Your Eyes, Slowly returns to a more improvised setting, with softly jangling electric guitars and breathy whispering vocals easing the listener along into a sleepy reverie, before it eventually breaks out into a mellow, psychedelic jam. Wrapped Up in Flight is another acoustic number that yet again displays Landing’s developing song writing talents. To See You is propelled along by a feather-light rhythm and a simple but effective riff and features some languid, indistinct vocal harmonies and quietly understated atmospherics. In fact, as on a few of the other pieces, the atmospherics eventually take over, leading To See You into a swirly, watery, ambient coda that eases the listener off the melody into a serene state of mind before it segues right into the next piece, the lovely, gently picked acoustic guitar of It Is Shining. This one is a simple and folksy number until the vocals come in at about the 1-½ minute mark, like a delightful kaleidoscope of pastel colors, adding a pleasant, summery psychedelic feel to the song. The 14-minute Breathing, again takes the format of structured song that dissolves into an atmospheric excursion, but the song part of this one is particularly spacey and dream-like, again featuring Adrienne’s haunting vocals. The song part begins to taper off at about the 4-minute point, leaving the remaining ten minutes for the band to voyage again into minimalist territory, as gently throbbing electronics form the framework for the sparsest of atmospheric touches. Just before the end, the guitars return, gently picking, gliding smoothly into the warm and carefree, sunshine balladry of Tell Myself, to close the album.
Fans of the more sonically experimental and noise driven Oceanless may not find Passages Through as much to their liking, but anyone who has enjoyed any of the subsequent releases from Landing will likely agree, Passages Through represents some of Landing’s best work to date, a pure joy to listen to on every level.
For more information you can visit the Landing web site at: http://www.landingsite.net.
Passages Through is distributed by Krecs. You can visit their web site at: http://www.krecs.com.
Contact via snail mail c/o Krecs; Box 7154; Olympia, WA 98507.
Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald