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Transport Aerian - Bleeding CD (album) cover


Transport Aerian


Crossover Prog

3.79 | 18 ratings

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4 stars New Development Within the Courts of Progressive Rock

Progressive rock is old.

I mean, it's getting really old, nearly 50 years now since the genre was first brought to the ears of the public, and yet somehow it still exists and we have the courage to still call it "progressive". It may have been progressing forward at the time, but as I duly noted in my controversial review of Transatlantic's Kaleidoscope last week, some bands are just refusing to move forward with the genre at all.

Bleeding is a new album from a one-man project called Transport Aerian, and it is a true progressive album. I like to use records like these to prove that progressive rock doesn't have to be ancient and filled with moog solos, it can be forward thinking and exciting, bringing new sounds to rock music to create something never made before, and Bleeding most certainly attempts this tack, and I have a boatload more respect for Transport Aerian and this record than I ever will for Transatlantic.

But honestly, this album isn't fully progressive, by the genre's definition. The tags 'progressive rock', 'art rock' and 'experimental rock' all come near it but it honestly isn't any of those. It's a brooding and dark record, opting for atmospheric and dark emotional passages over instrumental showmanship. Whenever I come across a record like this, I'll almost immediately jump to compare it to Steven Wilson's first solo record, Insurgentes. Insurgentes wasn't my favourite at the time it came out, and I'm still not convinced on it, but it's one of the most ambitious progressive rock records in recent memory, bringing together elements of noise rock, jazz, shoegaze and ambient together into something truly different, and there is a distinct influence of Steven's noisier and shoegazier side on Bleeding, like the fantastically violent ending of "Edges", which draws to mind the finish of "Get All You Deserve", when it shifts from being calm, pleasant music, to abrasive and intense noise rock.

Heavier breakdowns like these also draw obvious comparison to Kayo Dot, the pioneers of explosions and free-time metal symphonies. I'm not sure whether the music here is recorded in free time like Kayo Dot's, but being a single man, a multi-instrumentalist going simply by the name Hamlet, I'm doubting that this will be fully free music, but it certainly gives that impression at times.

Although there are drums credited to Hamlet, most of the drums here that I can hear seem to be programmed, but instead of trying to create a real drum sound with an electronic kit like many bands do, Hamlet has instead gone for a more electronic/industrial feel with the kit, often darkening the mood completely. Like the track "Fog Vision", with the brilliantly industrial snare, along with the ambience and slightly avant-garde solo, it sort of feels like a Lunatic Soul track drenched in Kayo Dot-isms with a Nine Inch Nails kit.

But if I have any complaints about the music here, it would be that it often feels without direction, as if it's just one thing after the other. 10-minute epic track "Inspire", as much as I like it, often feels empty without a large amount of instruments, and the large breaks of silence, instead of creating tension as they're obviously supposed to, just sort of feel empty, and they could benefit with maybe some strings or synths underneath. This also can be compared to Kayo Dot, since their later works have had the same problem in my opinion. Most of the movements of the album have great melodies and backbones, but could use a lot of fleshing out and pacing, since this regularly loses itself in being slow, and actually feels quite tired and boring at times.

Hamlet's vocals also take some getting used to. Listening to a lot of progressive rock, I've got used to many thick European accents, but he sometimes pushes my tolerance of accent and annunciation here. I think if I were to compare it to another vocalist, it would have to be Marco Glühmann from Sylvan, who is well known for his violently over-emotive vocals that border on angry shouting. Hamlet certainly reaches these angry vocals occasionally here, and all I can say is that, like Marco, they are an acquired taste.

Bleeding, for an underground record, is insanely impressive. The influence from Insurgentes is undeniable, but the fact that that style has more or less been left stagnant since 2008 (with Steven moving on to jazzier material on his later solo albums), I feel the world is lacking a band to pick up where he left off in ambitious and noisy progressive rock. Bleeding could benefit from some better production, and maybe the addition of some strings, but for what it is, this is very exciting.


Originally written for my Facebook page/blog:

Gallifrey | 4/5 |


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