[29 April 2008]
Experimental Aircraft’s Rachel Staggs and T.J. O’Leary have been finding bliss as the maelstrom’s center for going on a decade now, cranking out monumental thunderclouds of altered guitar sound, yet somehow finding serenity at the center. All the dreamy guitar bands can be brought forth as references, yet a few seem especially relevant: My Bloody Valentine, (later) Sonic Youth and Flying Saucer Attack. Like those bands, Experimental Aircraft layers shimmering textures of pedal effects and codeine-paced unearthly vocals. When Staggs takes the mic, as on “Stellar”, you think about the eerie dramas of early Cure. Her turn on “Paintings in the Attic” evokes the noise-inflected gorgeousness of My Bloody Valentine, while “With a Gun” recalls the slow-pulsed dream rock of Lush. O’Leary presides over the more impassioned, rhythm-fractured cuts, the bass-pushed, guitar-squalling “Upper East Side”, the over the top clangor of “Sit Still”. He conjures the earnest yelp of the Rock A Teens on “Agent 23”, the hallucinogenic shimmer of Rather Ripped-era Sonic youth on “So Simple”. Yet while it’s easy enough to make comparisons, Third Transmission is very much its own piece of work. It borrows liberally from an early 1990s tradition, yet takes these ideas one additional step forward. This is a band as loud as its namesake jet fighters, as tranquil as the clouds and sky 20,000 feet up, and the combination of fury and clarity, noise and beauty make Third Transmission well worth checking out.