We review the new album from Michael Donoghue – Landing

Taking a myriad of cues from more niche IDM musicians with a very cerebral feel when put up against the fast pounding beats of EDM. Michael Donoghue places a great emphasis on constructing big technical beats in his debut LP, Landing. 

At only 6 tracks, Landing seems like an extended EP on the surface but is much more upon closer inspection. Cosmic Whisper is the first song and is without a doubt, a fantastic way to set the mood. Constantly building with drum beats and floaty deep synth notes, which give a feeling of being in space. Add in with some more flashy effects and even a familiar sound effect that presents danger and mystery, and it’s you have it. It’s mysterious, brooding, and perfectly encapsulates what Donoghue is going for. 

With its themes of space and sci-fi set out, the title track, Landing, come along. And it becomes clear that a story is being told with this album in some way. Given the dance music platform, there are no lyrics, but Landing as an LP tells a surprisingly vivid story just through its song titles and music. As a song, Landing is a 7-minute beast that has a rhythmic and hard hitting drum beat that’s infectious. Once the main hook of the song is established, a pulsing twang of synth, the drum will kick in with intense fervour. The little elements throughout, such as a theremin, claps, and the intricate little drum accentuations of chimes and other percussion make the song. 

Aequorea IV is easily one of the oddest song titles going, but it is the heaviest song yet. With an even heavier and ear numbingly powerful drum beat, one that is fantastic in its impact. The amount of bass is truly cranked to eleven, feeling as though an earthquake is penetrating the listener’s head. Its intense bass is what really hits home and is what will draw a lot of dance lovers. But behind the scenes are a fantastic opera of opposed high and low notes masked beneath the beastly drum beat. The three sections are all interesting to look at on paper as well, with the first having a sudden upturn of sound and power. The second being more of a pounding dance number throughout. And the final section is a much more minimal and mellow beat and digital beeps that round out the song nicely. 

Overview Effect in comparison is much more of a lullaby by design. There are never any moments of overwhelming beats or fast paced mixes of sound. The ever-present chimes are on full effect here, crafting into an intricate hook that is slow paced and soothing. With these acting as the backbone and beat to the song, the space opera synth goes absolutely wild, and lulls the listener into a much more mellow space than the previous songs. It absolutely acts as a come down kind of song after the all-out power of the first three tracks. 

This trend is continued with the penultimate track, Interstate Dream. Starting with a continually building synth that is gentle and easy listening like its predecessor, before finally bringing back a full on beat. When the drums finally kick in, there’s a sense of nostalgia, as if something had been missing for a while at this point. And it would be right, the break from drums on Overview Effect makes you miss them when listening to Landing in full. Along with a much gentler beat, Interstate Dream draws the line halfway between Landing’s intensity and Overview Effect’s lullaby like sound. The closing minute is extremely notable for its cinematic feel, amazing gentleness and feeling of joy. 

Universe Eyes closes out Landing in an incredibly grand fashion. Adding in some very subtle record graining, it sets a mood that this is what everything has been leading to. Whilst being the shortest track on the album, its cinematic feel cannot be understated, even alongside its equally as grand contemporary tracks. The feeling of scale is unparalleled, and then it ends. Just like that, it ends and gives you a feeling of whether what just happened was even real. 

Landing as an album is something that sets out to take the listener on a journey, with an implied story that’s open to interpretation within its song titles. It hits some of the most intense dance beats out there and shows vulnerability in its softer moments. Despite the small number of tracks for a full album release, the songs are long and distinctive enough to warrant it. Landing is a surprisingly strong release, with Donoghue putting on an assured performance with his music that shows confidence in his debut. 

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