PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Landing: Sphere

Chris Toenes



Label: K
US Release Date: 2004-09-07
UK Release Date: Available as import

Ten years ago, if one heard the term shoegazer, it evoked images of bands lost in the moment of their music (and pondering their own footwear). After the originals like Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine, a second tier of bands started allowing their pop-based melodies to hover leisurely before finally coming to rest. Connecticut-based outfit Landing embody this aesthetic, directly channeling the gauzy guitar sound of the period's champions, but taking a left turn at Dearborn, Michigan, and the fluid drone mantras of that town's Windy and Carl. Landing meditate on the repetition of these guitar swells and drones, burying the melody until it is often all but non-existent. By drawing this line in the sand between them and their forebears, Landing sets up their melodic songs to stand out, with harmonies and vocal incantations woven into their music's fabric. Their story is of modern psychedelic music fans that started making music themselves, in a direct emulation of their heroes.

When Aaron and Adrienne Snow saw some of the innovators and new breed of psychedelic rock at the Terrastock music festival in 1997, they firmly decided they would take this path themselves. Since those early days, their music with collaborators Dick Baldwin and Daron Gardner has evolved in predominantly instrumental strokes, their harmonies and Utah background drawing comparisons to minimalists Low. With Sphere, Landing takes very successful stabs at pop songs, albeit songs wrapped in a fuzzy blanket of guitar harmonics, e-bows and sustained effects. "Fluency of Colors" starts the record with such blissful pop hooks; it appears the group might be taking this course for the entire album. But in three movements, "Gravitational" shows their devotion to gradual, progressive frequency jamming, working to a slow build and denouement not unlike the original Krautrock ancestors.

This is where Landing differs from the meandering noodles of many of their tripped-out peers; they retain a structure and focus that keeps their music in the rock realm, without going over the brink into unorganized sound. Working with Vessyl collective co-conspirators like Yume Bitsu, Version and Surface of Eceyon allows the members of Landing to try various strains and extremes of this exploratory music, while following the traditions of progressive head-music like young samurais pursuing higher knowledge. Sphere is the group's third album, propelling them further in their outer-space forays, but making room for memorable pop asides. Landing provides a pleasant, even soothing, sideline to the aggressive stratospheric rocket-trips of other modern psych outfits, while still dwelling in their same mind-expanding territory. While others go for outer extremes, Landing stays settled in a meditative state, comfortable in their world of chiming strings and delicately repeated phrases. They gaze upward, trying to see some epiphany in the sun with their eyes closed, without staring at those shoelaces.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.