Sunday, November 14, 2010

stasis

Lately, especially concerning music, I have become intrigued, almost obsessive, over the idea of stasis, of nothing happening. Musically, nothing can take many forms: repetition, using empty space to define a song, lack of progression, lack of or ultra-rigid structure, dynamic stasis, static or field recording as silence.



An idea, fully conceived and then performed, can add to a piece of music's sense of stasis. It took me several years to figure out a quality of Landing's music that seemed indefinable. Upon hearing their early records, it struck. Rarely do you hear musicians that emerge from their own pre-history with such a fully-formed, unique-to-themselves, sound. Usually, you can count on a first record to be such a pastiche of influences (or, if you're unlucky, merely a weak rip of a single influence) that judging it is more similar to judging how well a stomach digests a particular food than how well songs are formed. Shit...that is a terrible analogy. It's like this: assimilating one's influences is usually a lengthy process, and with the ever-cheapening & hi-fi home-recording systems on the up-and-up, the album is easier than ever to make. Thus, new crops of pretenders all the time.

It's rare to see a band who isn't a pretender at first. I mean, the Stones, the Beatles...you name it and they were probably aping their idols. Sure, you can tie Landing's sound to the guitar interweaving of My Bloody Valentine, the gauzy synth-guitar interplay of Slowdive, the deliberate pace of Low, or the blown-out, stretched melodies of Neu!/Harmonia. But none of these truly predicts the sounds present on Circuit and Oceanless. Delayed-out guitars circle around each other, layers descending down gradually, moving through the song, then disappearing. Distortion is used occasionally to great effect, a bass-line blasting through feedback-fuzz to begin a track, an organ chord-progression taking on an extra edge.

This is studied music, even if improvised. Songs are delineated in map-like fashion, expanding beyond borders. In hopes of soon starting my long-delayed solo project, this music is a touchstone I'll be returning to often. If you're going to execute an idea...do it well!

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