Manchester act Transmission 13 release their third album. Louder Than War’s Paul Scott-Bates reviews.
‘Kaleidoscopio‘, last years album release by Transmission 13, brushed aside the ‘difficult second album’ tag with ease, leaving Maurice Doogan free to then tackle his third album, ‘The Great American Disaster’, and he’s only gone and done it again.
Eleven new tracks, each repeating the quality now expected from Transmission 13 (no pressure for album 4!) and continuing the sound which is quickly becoming recognisable. With slightly more ambient this time round, the krautrock sound has been temporarily laid to rest in favour of soothing tunes and soundscapes, that in several cases, are truly beautiful.
Opener, ‘Shimmering Substance’, is gorgeousness personified. An ocean of ebbing synth sounds that ripple around your sub-consciousness for quite some time to come. Slowly building, but never completely taking over, the track weaves its way from start to end before meeting up with ‘On Reflection’ where the theme continues.
Where Transmission 13 succeeds is in the simple way that the tracks are constructed. We’re talking layers of sounds rather than multi sounds where nothing is overfacing and everything sits perfectly. All tracks are caringly put together and surely it’s only a matter of time before you start hearing Maurice on your TV sets where you can witness his tracks being put over images of natural beauty and/or outer space.
The title track is case in point of the confidence in which these tracks are executed and laid down. Imagine if a shard diamond could sing – this is what is would sound like. The temptation to have a blockbuster, belt-and-braces track representing the album is resisted, and, ‘The Great American Disaster’ is quite literally incidental in the bigger scheme of things.
‘Bay Of Pigs’ sees the perfectly placed newsreel soundbytes that are becoming almost characteristic, and, the piano backing has the potential to become anthemic . Rarely has mention of George Bush and Richard Nixon sounded so good!
There’s a true eeriness to ‘Objeccto Volante de Identificado’ , where there is potential for percussion thunder interspersed by newsreel voiceovers and some interesting effects. Probably, the most experimental Maurice has yet been and another string to his bow.
Closer, ‘Warning Sign’, transmits astronaut voices from space beside minimal piano and drone. An end to a fine album from a very talented artist.
Great album cover too.
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. The above review originally appeared on hiapop Blog here. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found here. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog. Paul has been working hard to save Radio Lancashire’s On The Wire, easily one of the best radio shows on the BBC. Follow him on twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news or follow his personal twitter, @hiapop.>