Complekt is the tenth full-length album from Connecticutians Landing, and it is also my 18th review of Landing. That is quite a lot of material, both in words that i have typed out and in material that they have released. However, this is only the seventh album of theirs that i have reviewed, so i have missed writing about a few of them. Hmm, maybe i will need to go back and correct that.
Complekt though. Wow. Just, wow. I have been reviewing this band for fourteen years now, and i can honestly say that Complekt is their best work.
You see, Landing make sparse music that treads the border between ambient music and psychedelia. That border is commonly defined as "drone" and a lot of what they do is pretty droning. I like that kind of thing, but it doesn't really appeal to a lot of people. I get that.
Earlier this year they released an EP called Third Sight which was pretty heavy on the droning ambient aspects of what Landing do. I loved it. Well, on Complekt they move into the psychedelic realm, releasing a record that soars and grooves in dark waves. I think that this would have a more widespread appeal. At least, i think it should.
The album doesn't start so much as fade into existence. Opener Light grows from a throbbing synth bit and noodling guitars. Adrienne Snow's voice comes in echoed, hushed, in layers, a faint vocal haze over guitars that gel into a shoegazish chiming as the bass keeps a slow beat.
After four minutes of that, the synths part and the guitar grinds for a bit, then the whole band kicks in with drums, bass, and fast guitar riffing. Aaron Snow sings here, harmonizing with his wife, and the song takes on a hint of menace and anger, which is rare for Landing. In a way, this reminds me of The Chameleons, or the more psyched out moments of The Dandy Warhols. This title track is a heck of a rocker...
The next tune Weft is two minutes of noodling guitar and scattered drums that meanders around for a bit. It is very Landing.
Shifts starts with throbbing synths and shaking percussion, then a guitar tinkles in with more spaced out keyboards. Adrienne sings this one, her voice hushed and in layers. Listening on headphones this tune is almost disorienting as layers come and go, floating by the listener. This is Landing at their most ambient. It slowly fades in to Thifter, another similar song where they add an insistent throbbing bit to their noodling. As the song grows, the guitar gets more prominent, until the tune pops with drumming and Adrienne's voice coming back in, and it becomes a lovely mellow rocker that would not have been out of place on Seasons and yet seems to have more post-punk in the guitar than i am used to with Landing. There is a trebly guitar bit that is simply lovely.
If you bought the record on vinyl, as you know i did, then that ends the first side. It is mellow and ambient with that wonderful rocking tune in the middle.
Flip the album over and we start off with Grow which is about ten minutes long. This is not the longest song they have released this year, and nowhere near their longest overall, but ten minutes is a long while for most listeners and longer than most bands commit to a song. Landing start Grow with noodling guitar and keyboards that just wander around for about two minutes, in no real hurry. Then it gels into a slowly growing drone. At about five minutes drums join, scattered and with that shaking percussion again. The drums and shaking give this is a really had-bopping groove, like a spaced out dance song. Adrienne comes in, singing as the song grooves along. This is really lovely, and Landing can pull of this sort of thing better than anyone. Heck, this song is practically them showing off, like they are saying, "Oh, a slow spacey dance song, sure. Yawn. We can do this in our sleep..."
Grow fades out and then a slowly insistent drum beat along with echoed guitar come in as Landing channel the mellower moments of SIANspheric in Clouds II. Adrienne sings this one, which is a regular old song, with verses and choruses and all that sort of stuff that gets abandoned in ambient exploration or 10 minute space dance tunes. On the chorus, the whole song swells up with the guitars chiming and her voice a little more forceful. This is another simply masterful song.
And finally Landing end the record with World. Guitars strum and Aaron sing this one, which sounds like what they were doing on Seasons, the folkier side of psychedelia. Again, it's a really lovely song, very well, done, with lots of interesting layers. A very pretty end to a great record.
Complekt is the culmination of what Landing do, the perfect example, and it is also one of their most accessible works. It is catchy and mellow and rocking and spacey and reflective and thoughtful and fun, all at the same time.
I encourage everyone to go and listen to this.