Albums Features

Landing’s Seasons 20th anniversary

We look at the Connecticut band’s crucial gateway album.

Looking at albums of the past, and whether they fall under our Lost Albums or Anniversary series, it’s something we enjoy sharing throughout these pages. However, given the volume of new music submissions we get, admittedly it’s an aspect of this publication that we sometimes lose focus on.

In truth, new music over the past couple of months has felt a little jaded. There have been flashes of brilliance, but unlike previous years, there hasn’t been a whole lot that has stopped us in our tracks. It’s not for the want of trying (obviously), however the more you immerse yourself in something that isn’t giving as much back as you wish, then things can become stagnant.

That’s why it felt like the right time to talk about a band that hasn’t shifted from the decks for months on end: Landing.  

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Spearheaded by husband and wife, Adam and Adrienne Snow, with Daron Gardner and John Bent, the Connecticut four-piece make multi-faceted bliss. Is there such a thing? In Landing’s case, yes, there is.

Landing are one of those enigmatic examples of a band not reaching anywhere near the audience they deserve. A band almost too modest in mind and approach to be elevated to that next tier where European summer festivals and 3,000 capacity venues await.

That’s how it goes sometimes, but that’s not to say Landing should be filed under the ‘rough diamond’ or ‘indie treasure’ categories. Quite the opposite, in fact. Landing make the kind of transcendental music few of their contemporaries can match.

Aesthetically, while Landing have rubbed shoulders with kindred spirits, Windy & Carl and Yume Bitsu, they sought to carve out their own unique splendour. It’s hard to explain, however those who have been with this band since they formed in 1997 as May Landing will know what I’m talking about. Landing simply make music that speaks to you. That’s what the best artists do.

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Not only does Landing’s music speak to the listener, it has a way of getting under your skin, and fast. The type of band that you can spend months with and, before you know it, their beautiful sounds have been coursing through your veins for a year (as is the case in this instance). Think of bands such as Unwound, Polvo, Zelienople and Low. Bands that flitter across different sound worlds but possess the oeuvres to truly get lost in. Landing is of this ilk.

Which brings us to Seasons. Landing’s fantastic third record.

Released in May, 2002, Seasons marked many firsts for the band. Their first (and only) release for the ever-present Louisville label, Ba Da Bing! Records, Seasons saw Landing take a more song-based approach. It was also the band’s first record that included songs written by then-bassist Dick Baldwin (Perth Amboy) who alongside Aaron, Adrienne and Gardner was a part of the original band line-up. At the time of Seasons’ recording sessions, Baldwin, Aaron and Gardner also played with Yume Bitsu’s Adam Forkner and Phyll Jenkinsin in Surface of Eceon.

Landing - Seasons

It was a new dawn for a band that was immersed in kranky reverence and the galactic mind-altering soundscapes of Spaceman 3. Both elements feature on Seasons, a loose concept album where themes weigh heavily on the weather cycle. Where kranky was concerned, however, Seasons was less Windy & Carl and more Bowery Electric.

Starting with Fall Song. From the opening note you get the feeling it’s the kind of song Slowdive wanted to write. With intricate guitar interplay and a warm fluorescent thrum, it takes Landing’s motorik underpinnings of their previous two releases and dismantles it into something immediate to the ear.

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Another first for the band, the acoustic-based Encircled (Through Fallen Leaves) possesses a richness never heard before. A tender, naked intimacy that Landing had not previously shown their audience, and whether this was a shyness or something the band had developed continues to raise questions. In truth, it was probably a bit of both.

The persistent bass throb of First Snow sees Adrienne featuring on vocals for the first time. With quiet riffs that softly glisten like the winter sun off a lake, alongside Ruins of the Morning (So Cold), this is where Landing channel their inner Low and what a sound it is, with a series of hymnal-like undercurrents that bring a tear to the eye.

Swiftly, Landing imbue some hope with the breezy lullaby that is Clarke Street. Recounting the mundane aspects of life, it’s a song that matches Landing’s modesty, projecting a kind of reality that many of us are accustomed to.  

Going against its title, Can’t Hide Forever (Into the Woods) instils the kind of feeling that makes you want to stay hidden in the woods. Specifically with this song on repeat. One of the most beautiful moments on Seasons, here we see Landing dispense a new emotive force. Like Encircled (Through Fallen Leaves) and Ruins of the Morning (So Cold), on Can’t Hide Forever (Into the Woods) Landing incorporate simplicity with their notorious long form compositions. Despite this unison of old and new world Landing, it’s neither ambient nor slowcore. Quite simply, it’s Landing.

Which continues on In A Car – a majestic high-watermark with hushed arrangements and a chiming nightcape riff that jolts the heart. So quiet that you can almost hear the blood running through your veins at the same time, In A Car rivals Can’t Hide Forever (Into the Woods) as Seasons’ most beautiful passage. The two tracks as equally stunning on any given day.

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Blue Sky Away feels like a tentative nod to Slowdive’s Blue Skied An Clear. However, while both bands crossover from time to time, the two tracks are vastly different in tone. With Blue Sky Away, Landing are far more optimistic, producing the kind of open-sunroof sway that signals the summer. Open-road indie-rock with a cinematic slant.

While Seasons was a departure from Circuit and Oceanless, the fundamental aesthetics of Landing still loomed large. Stripping it back to its core, Seasons lends itself to deep listening as much as the aforementioned albums that preceded it. The exquisite inner grains of sound largely down to the flawless production by Aaron Snow and Wade Chamberlain’s mastering. Whilst simple on the face of it, Seasons feels anything but in what is a timeless piece of work. Hauntingly abstract and elusive, it sounds every bit as fresh as it did 20 years ago.

With the benefit of hindsight, Seasons was an album that showcased Landing’s expansive range. Alongside their fine array of experimental-based releases, namely the above mentioned Oceanless and the brilliant 2016 offering, Third Sight, Seasons propelled Landing into a new world, and one that boasted endless possibilities. Since, they have gone on to write some of their finest albums, with 2012’s self-titled and 2018’s Bells in New Towns among them.

Both may not have been possible had it not been for the dazzling majesty of Seasons.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

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