Adding punctuation to a year that saw them return from dormancy with a lively self-titled album, Connecticut space-rockers Landing have released a 32-minute mini-album/EP titled Wave Lair. This year’s Landing acted as a reboot for the group, furthering their already-wide scope into territory which included loud beats and fast tempos. Wave Lair continues this expansion, ranging even further into spaces simultaneously familiar and new.
Side A houses 3 tracks that each clock in at just under 5 minutes. Lead track “Patterns” bursts out of the speakers as one of the poppiest sounding things in Landing’s discography, centered around a whistling keyboard riff which unfolds and collapses with the action of a contraption. It also has one of their most rocking and slithering baselines, playing a co-lead role and lending a head-nodding balance to the airy keyboard riff. At first blush, the live bass sound seemed like a spot of undercooked production, but after a few repetitions it made sense for it to strut it’s stuff in the fore and reinforced the idea that expectations of Landing based on their previous operations should be limited more to a general mood and melodic sense than to a particular process or production value. It also foreshadows the centrality of Daron Gardner’s driving bass work throughout, melodic and nimble but also pushing things forward rhythmically on top of the slappy, herky jerky, and hooky drumbeats.
On the slow-burning Seefeel-indebted “Resonance”, the steady bass charts a course through swelling fields of keyboards, a surging mantra, and the high-pitched echoes of Adrienne Snow’s vocals until the listener finds themselves amid a whirlpool of swirling sonics. The most guitar-centric track here is the murky and brooding “Cover Bare Arms” which feels broadcast from a deeply-burrowed safe zone. It’s the least upfront but the deepest trip here, with the pleading vocals of Aaron Snow talking about “dressing up in black” and “feeling lighter” accompanied by chiming chorus and churning delay pedals which ultimately lift the mood out of the enclosed and into floating vistas and scenic flyovers.
Side B is home to the sprawling 19-minute title track, a bit of a throwback for the band in length, but not in style. The repetition of a vibrating drum sequence sits as the centerpiece, joined by charges of EBow, drifting synth squiggles, and delayed strums. The 6-minute intro feels like a float through sonic space debris, after which a bright sliver of horizon begins to reveal itself, a corona of sound which slowly grows to become the main attraction. Adrienne jumps in, singing about “twisting and turning” and “heavy heads stretched toward the sun” as guitars emit light and a gaggle of synths climb to an analog fanfare. After the climax, dregs of delay dissipate along with the resurgent beat in a peaceful comedown – the track could be looped end to beginning and you may not notice, blissfully living the rest of your life inside of a lair of waves.
It’s fitting that the choice of title for this recording refers to a location centered around sonics, because all the changes in Landing – the economy of a three-piece, drummer moving to bass full-time without replacement, and a perspective that comes with lifespan maturity – have created a new playground/laboratory for the band to explore their gifts in a new dynamic. Thankfully, they are confident, detail-oriented, and dexterous, and continue pumping out worthy material. Wave Lair points to an even more diverse future for the band.