posted on 10/2004 By:
It’s an embarrassment of riches these days for fans of the slow building ambient sludge of acts like Neurosis, Cult of Luna, and Isis. Not only have all three of those bands recently released excellent albums, but there has been an increase in bands that heavily incorporate this style into their music. Acts like Transmission0 and The Ocean are among the bands that are clearly influenced by the aforementioned crew but have also added enough of their own slant on the genre to avoid being clones. On one hand, it is great to have more bands creating music in this relatively small genre, but one wonders how many other bands will be able to join the growing crowd without becoming totally redundant.
Transmission0 grew from the ashes of the Dutch hardcore act Reveal. 0 is their first album, and it shows a great deal of promise. As you would expect, the band uses slow building songs that incorporate layered melodies with plenty of ebb and flow, although the songs are much shorter than the genre usually uses. This is a tremendously bleak feeling album. Nearly all of the songs are draped in a shroud of dreariness. This is contrasted by the lighter mood delivered by some of the ambient touches of several of the instrumental tracks. It’s like the album simultaneously floats, while tethered to earth by the darker side of the human condition. Not surprisingly, Transmission0 carry some of the vestiges of their old hardcore sound. These are evidenced in some of the vocals and in the riffing on a couple of tracks. But there is one aspect of their sound that is the one that adds the most to their style and differentiates them from their peers. That is, they use a ton of smooth, clean vocals and ringing notes that give 0 a sound that is reminiscent of the genre mixed with A Momentary Lapse of Reason-era Pink Floyd. Finally, Transmission0 add a few Radiohead styled ambient, electronic instrumental interludes.
The opening track, aptly named “Journey” is the longest song, and a perfect example of the band’s work. A sparse guitar line is slowly joined by the other instruments before the band kicks into a couple of bars of heavy riffs and screaming hardcore vocals. Then the mellowness reappears and is just as quickly crushed by a return to the heavy melody. The songs are not overly technical, but have plenty of changes to keep the listener fully engaged. Tracks like “vs. Vampires” and “Dust Like Sand” are among several that use clean vocals reminiscent of David Gilmore in style and delivery. To continue the Floyd comparison, a portion of “Serenity” has a chugging lope similar to the intro of “Dogs of War.” “U Boot” lurches with a simple catchy off kilter riff and distorted, venomous vocals in the verse. “San Miguel” storms with hardcore intensity, and “The Return”, another standout track, opens with a lengthy avalanche of pull offs before settling into a moodiness that alternates between emotional bareness and rage.
0 is definitely worth a look. If you’re new to the genre I’d suggest you start with one of the veteran acts, but if you already have and love that stuff, then Transmission0’s signal may be just the broadcast for you.
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