Landing: Third Sight (El Paraiso, 2016)
Landing was founded in 1998 and the current roster is made up of Daron Gardner, John Miller, Aaron Snow, and Adrienne Snow. Third Sight is their ninth full-length and, as with their prior output, it is difficult to pigeonhole. They are not ambient, nor post-rock, nor bliss-pop, nor what Daniel Land calls sophisti-pop and, yet, they are all of these. They excel at being epically nonconformist while presenting the listener with the most soothing of musical aural pleasures. Third Sight contains four tracks, two long-form compositions that are the bookends to the album with two much shorter pieces making up its center.
“Delusion Sound” begins the album with undulating drones and guitars that whirl into the speakers at different volumes. A larger, more textured drone comes in as another layer. Eventually, drums, bass, and sparkling guitars begin as Aaron begins singing. Adrienne joins in on the chorus contributing another subtle vocal. Anyone familiar with Landing’s work will expect this deep, layered piece that captures the senses when one pays attention. While there is a structured, slowcore styled pop piece sitting in this track, it does so on a bed of reverberating, heaving layers. Because of this, every listen is a new experience. The percussion, bass, and vocals eventually fall back into the ocean of sounds and warped, whirls play through the speakers ushering the listener into the second half of the piece. Bright, subtle guitars emote a feeling of renewal while warm hums emerge. It is meditative and introspective. This feeling leads into the second track. “Third Sight” has a hum that reminds me of a sort of bagpipe. Keys dance on top of the drone leading in more layers of drone that roam into the speakers then fall away. Another skill Landing has is the ability to play with the left and right of the speakers, placing particular tones and lines in one while having alternate lines and sounds dazzle the listener in the other. A thumping pattern moves in and out of the soundscapes while guitar plays, flirting with the drones.
“Third Sight” ends with a low rumble that pulsates between speakers and then transitions seamlessly into “Facing South”, the shortest track on the album. A drone sits on top of a delayed guitar which is played, giving an almost traditional Japanese feel. The piece is more subtle and simpler than the two prior. It has varied textures throughout, but the song breathes out and then fades given its shorter nature. “Morning Sun” finishes out the album with a drone and spacy clicks and subtle pounding. This song is patient. The layers are added very slowly, giving the listener time to soak them in before new textures are added. There is a feel of the brilliance of planetary objections. At about 8:11, Adrienne begins to sing “Just to sit with him, morning sun, warm us, only us.” Her voice appears as if to pear out of the layers, inviting and soothing. She continues to sing while following the syncopated pattern of the bass. What form the track had fades into a stream of flowing drones and textures at about 11:35. The fade out is long and apropos for the album, allowing the listener to leave the place Landing has taken them with abrupt departure.
Landing are the layer masters. They go deep, finding textures and sonics that work together to form meaningful compositions. This eighth album is a demonstration of the band’s prowess in writing detailed, subtle, intricate pieces. Third Sight is a cavalcade of auditory lavishness that must not be missed.
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