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  K Records  
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It's funny how even if you really like an artist, it's sometimes difficult to get into a particular album. Take Sphere, the latest full-length by Landing, as an example. I have been enjoying Landing's music for several years, and Sphere is very typical of them. So why haven't i enjoyed it more, or been singing its praises here? It seems to be exactly the type of thing i would enjoy.

And that's the issue. On Sphere, Landing continue to make the same type of music they made on Passages Through. That is to say, this album is an extension of that previous album. And that's not a bad thing at all, since i really enjoyed Passages Through. It's just, well, Landing are one of those bands that always seemed to be growing, changing things up, and there is not so much of that here. Oh sure, they do things in unique ways, and there isn't anything else like this out there. It's just that, well, they have made this album before. I wanted something new and radically different (even if i didn't like the new direction all that much), and instead i got more of the same. And that is slightly disappointing to a serious music geek like myself.

However, when i take a step back and look at Sphere, i see that it is a damned fine album. In fact, Landing have even taken the little bit of advice i offered in my review of Passages Through. On that previous album, Landing interspersed ambient dronings with more pop-like tunes, but did not separate the two. That is, a tune might meander along ambiently for three minutes or so, then swell up into a happy pop tune. My thought was that radio stations weren't going to play that, as ambient music doesn't go over too well, so my advice to Landing was to separate the ambient pieces from the pop tunes. Well, they do that on Sphere, which i hope has led to increased airplay for their music.

And it deserves some airplay, because Sphere is a very lovely album. It consists of three ambient pieces called Gravitational, parts 1, 2, and 3 separated by some lovely vaguely psychedelic pop tunes. One thing that i have noticed on my listens to Sphere is that the basswork is more prominent than usual. Oh, Landing have often used bass, but, on this album, the bass is more present, and, well, better. All three of the male members of Landing (Dick Baldwin, Daron Gardner, and Aaron Snow) contribute to the bass at different points, and all of them do a lovely job.

If you have liked what Landing have done before, then you will like Sphere. That said, there are a couple of tunes that i want to discuss as they are the tunes that stand out from the pack. Specifically, there is a three song sweep in the middle of the album that is simply stunning.

It starts with Where the Leaves…, in which Aaron Snow sings lightly to a haze of keyboard, light drumming, and delicate arpeggios. Then we have Solstice, which starts with Landing's trademark tinkling cascade of guitar arpeggios. In the background, a powerful bass riff and forceful drumming swell up to compete with the guitar. Then, suddenly, the guitar stomps on an overdrive pedal, and this tune gets noisy and distorted. It really grows very well, and this has become one of my all-time favorite Landing tunes. It’s only really noisy for a minute or so (at 3:37, this is a short tune by Landing standards), but it packs a lot into that brief time.

After Solstice fades out, we are back to the tinkling guitar, only this time it is faster paced, almost nervous. The tune is our title track, Sphere, and again it features an excellent bass riff, here joined by both Aaron and Adrienne Snow singing in harmony. And again, the song swells up in the middle with a nice noisy, guitar feedback laden bridge. Really nice.

Despite my initial reservations about Landing cruising along in their career, this is a damned fine album. Fans of the band will really enjoy it. I know that i certainly have. Now, i wonder what they are going to do next?

Related Links:
  There are many Landing reviews on this site.
Their most recent album was called Passages Through.
Also, there are many MP3s available on The Landing Site.

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