Transience is a side project of the better known Land's End. Due to demands from the real world ( jobs etc..), Land's End's members have had a hard time getting together to record. Keyboardist Fred Hunter threw together this project with the input from other members, sent to him via the various advance technological mediums available today. The disc under review contains over 60 min. of music plus an added bonus of 65+ min of mp3's. My review will focus only on the main 9 tracks however, as my technology is limited.
Whether called Land's End or Transience, this band's music has not really varied throughout the years. The main focus of each track is the lush keyboard sounds from Fred Hunter; who's celestial symphonic arrangements are infused into most every song; like the opening "Heaven & Earth" , with it's grandiose instrumental introduction. Guitarist/vocalist Jeff McFarland seems to be the second main contributor to this musical undertaking; having either written or co-authored 5 of the 9 tracks. His unique vocals style is at the forefront on tracks like the haunting ballad "Mind", and the soulful " How Lucky They Are". He also does some experimenting , as demonstrated on the distorted voices of "Blurring The Margins", which also features some ambient soundscapes over a hypnotic programmed drum beat. He brings his axe to the forefront in the melancholic "A Stones Throw From Nowhere", where his psychedelic-laden guitar outro harkens us back to a Pink Floyd of yesteryear. In "Riding The Iron Rooster", he lays down some delicate Hackettesque acoustic guitar passages. Every track on the disc is mixed in with it's predecessor, to create a conceptual musical tapestry. The only downfall though, is that the tracks tend to become slightly repetitious. The opening 5 tracks are much stronger than the closing 4; where pulsing electronica rhythms start taking over. The closing "Blurred Beyond Recognition" seems a far cry from the opening symphonic overtures of the first track. Exploratory keyboards, and unearthly vocals dominate the track; which gives the number a 'Vangelis', New-Age feel to it.
This record has some fine moments which remind this reviewer of some of the mellower passages from American counterparts Ad Infinitum; but on the whole, the disc seems a little too cold and distant. That may be the result of the members basically calling in their parts as opposed to working together in the studio for the duration of the project. The first half of the disc consists of the more recent pennings by the group and are, in my opinion, the real jewels on this CD. This gives me hope for these guys in the future.
Added: September 1st 2003
Reviewer: Yves Dube
Related Link: Band Website
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Posted by Greg Cummins, SoT Staff Writer on 2004-02-10 06:10:50
It's taken far too long to determine how exactly I want to relate to this album but after many repeated listens, particularly with headphones, I must confess that this indecision was caused by a number of difficult factors. Firstly, this offering is an amalgam of songs written, arranged and produced over a very long period of time; eight years in fact which is an incredibly long period of time in which to try and hold everything together. Secondly, the music varies quite markedly from the earliest pieces to the more recent ones in that the album starts with a more upbeat approach right from the get go but meanders on towards the end with some very laid back and delicate softer material that has a more overt ambient / new age theme in parts. Not that it has had an adverse affect on my ears, as 3 of the 4 of these latter songs, were written between 1997 and 1998 and represent a very enjoyable part of the whole affair.
Fred Hunter on keyboards, bass, guitars and programming is very ably accompanied by Jeff McFarland whose guitar and more particularly, vocals add a reasonable amount of strength to a bevy of songs that has as much diversity as one could expect, given the time frame in which this album was concocted. Mark Lavallee on percussives, Francisoco Neto on guitars and Steve Ades adding some saxophone all help to extend the songs a little and add some depth without really making too bold a statement. This is certainly not an album aimed at displaying outstanding virtuosity from any of the attendants gathered at the mixing desk as most songs amble along at walking pace with little or no impact from any fiery lead breaks or keyboard runs. Four of the songs extend to over 9 minutes each and could have had a few minutes chopped from each without detracting from the overall integrity of the album.
This is basically the band, Lands End, albeit with a few changes that delivered the albums "Natural Selection" and "Pacific Coast Highway". I think I prefer them to this album but repeated spins will confirm things one way or another as I have only recently acquired the Lands End discs.
The vocals have thrown me a bit as I am reminded, in parts of the sort of songs that Seventh Wave would produce on their 2 albums from the 70's. While not the weakest component on the formers album, the totality of enjoyment suffers in a similar way as this album does. It's not until the 3rd track, "Riding The Iron Rooster" with its grandiose synth intro that things heat up a little but it is only short lived as the acoustic guitar takes over to deliver probably the most accessible track of all. There are some highlights on the album here and there but when it's all said and done, it just meanders on for a bit too long without making any real musical statement of any substance and left me with no memorable sections or songs to hum along to later on. The album also features well over an hour of additional MP3 songs for those with computer access to those free bits of binary. Considering the amazing amount of music available to the discerning listener, whose wallet depth may not be enough to include splashing out on yet more unknown music, this is a case of try before you buy.
Extra MP3 Songs (at 160 Kbps)
- Heaven & Earth (11.15)
- Mind (4.25)
- Riding The Iron Rooster (9.35)
- A Stones Throw From Nowhere (9.04)
- Hollow Gardens (3.00)
- How Lucky They Are (6.35)
- Blurring The Margins (4.27)
- For Will Alone (4.17)
- Blurred Beyond Recognition (9.09)
- Two Stations Down )5.36)
- See It Now (5..38)
- Aquadream (30.23)
- Hang It Upside Down (5.30)
- La Post – Live (3.52)
- A Stones Throw From Nowhere – Original Mix (18.54)
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