By reading Paul Scott-Bates review of the new Transmission 13 album, it sounds like they’ve been able to stay independent while producing great music that has attracted plenty of attention.Â
How do you follow your debut album being listed in the ‘Best Of 2011’ category by ManchesterMusic.co.uk? Quite simple really, you make an album worthy of the same accolade the year after.
‘Kaleidoscopio’, the follow up to 2011âs ‘In Treatment’, is the second album from Transmission 13 (aka Maurice Doogan) and contains 14 instrumental tracks of sumptuous beauty. Described as “progressive ambient rock” its dreamlike soundscapes are quite simply gorgeous.
From the calming opening bars of “Reflection” itâs engaging stuff â easy on the ear â and appropriately titled. ‘Wider Than Pictures’ is more upbeat with an instant hook which is central to the whole album. Nice guitar work and a great ending. For no reason other than the opening dialogue ‘Apollo 13’ reminds me of The The and Sweet Bird Of Truth, strange really as itâs clearly about space travel and not dropping bombs on the Far East! Again, itâs very easy listening with a looped melody.
I always find self-released albums fascinating. In the late 80s I predicted that the music industry would implode, and, with the help of the internet itâs done just that, allowing unsigned artists to have their say and get heard. With a self-released album, everything matters, all is at stake, and unless youâre a fool, every song is made as though itâs the last song of your life. ‘Kaleidoscopio’ is no different, itâs passionate and full of ideas.
‘1976’ is again more upbeat: played loud itâs a cracker but not pretentious, with lovely guitar work and a subtle ending. It may just be me but Iâve heard a lot of bubbling water and rivers on recent albums; an ebbing tide leads us into Lake. Maurice has the ability to write tracks which take you off to various locations. Youâre here by the side of a lake, looking across into the mist whilst you walk slowly toward it getting your feet wet. An angelic voice calls you closer. Gorgeous.
Influences are spread far and wide â kraut, Bowie, Cocteau Twins and Eno mixed with folk, ambient and progressive. ‘Pictures Of Lakes And Buildings’ even has a Far Eastern sound. The title track is krautrock-esque, nodding an affectionate wink in the direction of Kraftwerkâs ‘The Model’ and is one of the highlights of the album. Powerful synth sounds with avoidance of adding a heavy drumbeat. I was also led to recall another unsigned solo artist, Benign, whose work and style is very similar and whose commitment to his music is massive.
At a time when Public Service Broadcasting are sampling old information footage, so Transmission 13 use a shipping forecast, and as with PSB, it really works on ‘Malin Head’. ‘Runway Lights’ is an acknowledgement of a bit of prog, and ‘Tangled And Wild’ goes in the direction of drone.
The style and cohesion of the album continues right up until final track, ‘Geraniums’, engaging you until the final note. ‘Kaleidoscopio’ is a fine, fine album and worthy of inclusion on anyoneâs Xmas list.
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More writing by Paul on Louder Than War can be found here.