Putting the ‘dream’ strongly and emphatically into the ‘dream pop’ label with which they are sometimes associated, Landing’s tenth album Complekt is, for the most part, about as ethereal as it is possible to be whilst retaining structure and melody. From the very outset of opening track ‘Light’, a delay- and reverb-soaked cloud of texture envelops the listener, the Massive Attack-like stylings in some of the subtle female vocal writing providing a little anchorage to something more tangible.
This means that when second track ‘Complekt’ bursts straight out of the blocks with a psychedelic rock sound, replete with full band arrangement and a driving tempo, it is certainly an unexpected turn towards more full-on territories which can easily take one by surprise. The vocals (largely male this time) are still distant and delicate, but for its duration, the title track is a guitar- and drum-heavy romp and really hints at a breadth of scope that the opening number was clearly holding very close to its chest.
The strange thing is that this sound is never revisited throughout the rest of Complekt. The low-key instrumental interlude of ‘Weft’ is something of a new-age palate-cleanser, before ‘Shifts’ once again floats away to dreamy pastures, augmented with odd spacey synths to highlight the general otherworldliness, and a nod to Pink Floyd in the guitarwork. ‘Thither’ continues the same theme, and really pushes the memory of track two well back in your mind, the wash of atmosphere even bringing up questions about whether the title track even happened or if it was indeed just part of this freeform dreamscape playing tricks on you.
The epic centrepiece of the album, ‘Grow’, does exactly what the title suggests over its ten minutes, beginning with pure ambience before adding a simple, one-not ostinato and gradually morphing and gaining more presence with gorgeous soft synth pads, percussion and vocals. This is what music that straddles the new-age/dream pop/shoegaze genres like this should really be doing; there is no obvious climax or end point, and lovely textures are the only focus.
Rounding things off, ‘Clouds II’s sombre shoegazing chords lend it the air of a perfectly realised sad lullaby, lush but also catchy, and leading into the heavenly deliverance of the guitar-led closer ‘World’.
Complekt really is like an audio dream. Slightly baffling though the inclusion of one single rocking (title) track is, this can be explained away as just a more adventurous episode in the unconscious dream journey that Landing take you on. Across these eight tracks, there are just the right amount of touchstones in melody, structure and movement to keep this well away from being an ambient release, and yet reaching the end of the album really does feel like awakening from a delicate but restful slumber, in a positive headspace but still wishing to return all over again.