20 Sep 2021 - Ben
Post Rock | Release date: 24 Sep 2021
The Kraków post-rockers release Bridges, their second studio album – a soaring, wheeling, swooping journey into musical dynamism.
I broke the habit of a lifetime for this particular review: I did some research! I wondered what Transmission Zero meant and, having read literally several explanations, I still don’t understand it. Something to do with frequencies and filters. Or something.
What I do understand, though, is music – pretty music, ugly music, happy music, sad music, music that touches your feelings, music that distracts you from your feelings… all music has its purpose and place in the world. Transmission Zero’s music has a definite sense of purpose and on this, their second studio album, it is defining its place in the world.
The opening track, “Those Brief Moments”, gently wakes up with gentle swells of guitar and synth. It yawns and stretches, introducing quick drum stabs as part of the morning routine. As more instruments are introduced, the song builds and progresses until the inevitable crescendo, before starting the build again. One interesting aspect I found in “Those Brief Moments” was the drums. Through the song, the drum line changes and evolves, not seeming to stay in the same pocket for more than a couple of bars. This gives the song a fluid feeling and keeps it from sounding samey. As the siren-like guitar refrain at the end of the song dies out, it almost feels like a distress signal from the depths of space.
When I talked of happy music earlier, “In Case Of Emergency” is a case in point: it’s almost 5 minutes of sheer musical positivity. Delay-drenched guitars pick out a riff that I can only describe as rectangular. Everything is driving toward a peak – we have zippy guitar parts giving way to chugging, driving rhythm guitars until we reach the top of the mountain. It sounds upbeat and vital, and should leave you with a triumphant feeling.
Closing out this five-song album is the title track – a 12-minute epic that recalls bands such as If These Trees Could Talk and Distant Dream. Opening with warm swells of synth, the song feels like it has been written in three movements – each telling its own part of the story and then handing over to the next. Like any good story, it has a beginning, a middle and an end – and what an ending! The soaring, whirling guitars achieve an almost choral sound, whilst being driven by the relentless drums and thumping bass to higher and higher heights. When they reach the right altitude, all is peaceful and the album bows out with a few bleeps and bloops.
With this being Transmission Zero, they’ve got their Post Rock dynamics highly tuned. As they showed on their eponymous debut in 2019, their ability to build crystalline layers of shimmering leads, stomping basslines, driving rhythm guitars and surging drums is unparalleled. On this album they are showing us what progress they have made in the last 2 years. And what a demonstration it is!