Landing
Passages Through
K Records
2003
C+

equally at home with aimless and drifting soundscapes as they are with beautifully slowed down pop songs, Landing has tread the territory between these two poles carefully on this, their third full length release. In many cases, however, the group dismisses the power of their tightly constructed pop songs in favor of extended periods of full-out ambient bliss. Certainly there is nothing wrong with this decision, but when each element is equally as strong, it seems a shame to privilege one over another.


But that’s exactly what Landing does for the majority of Passages Through allowing songs like “Wings of Light,” “To See You” and “Breathing” to become undercut/supplemented by extended ambient portions that could have perhaps be better served in the interests of pop-induced synaesthesia, as opposed to formless compositions that frequently evoke the feeling of boredom more than anything else.


When split apart, however, into discrete units, each side of Landing’s personality works well. The pop highlights here come, first, in the form of “To See You,” which sounds eminently familiar, yet incredibly fresh. The song is built around a simple chord structure on an acoustic guitar and a joint vocal melody that is sung in an almost trance-like fashion only to be stopped in mid-sentence to make way for an extended ambient coda to the song. Its soon followed up by the gentle bliss of “It is Shining,” which utilizes a single guitar for its first minute and, at the moment it appears on the verge of heading towards pretty ambience, it breaks into a proper pop song sung by Adrienne. It’s these unexpected moments of indecision that give the album a beautiful and mysterious feel.


Ambient-wise, the outros to the aforementioned tracks “Wings of Light,” “To See You” and “Breathing” each float by aimlessly, carefully remaining unobtrusive, yet engaging at the same time- the hallmark of solidly produced ambient music.


But in the end, the sum is merely equal to its parts- and little more. What Passages Through amounts to is the attempt to synthesize the two distinct aesthetics of the group into a cohesive statement of intent and, to that end, the album is a failure. When taken as a semi-schizophrenic (you know, as schizophrenic as slo-core mixed with ambience can be) attempt to reconcile fragile beauty with unformed beauty, Passages Through emerges as an album that displays the groups ability to craft songs in both modes- they just can’t do it at the same time. Here’s hoping that’s what the next album has in store for listeners.


Reviewed by: Todd Burns
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01
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