It's been some time since music fans have heard from The Listening. In 2005, The Rock N Roll Worship Circus made the official transition to The Listening with a debut LP under the new moniker and a darker, more pensive approach to songwriting. For almost two years, things have been rather quiet for the band, but with a renewed focus, drive, and passion for music, The Listening is back with their latest offering, an EP titled Transmission 1.
Although the only original member still remaining in The Listening is vocalist and guitarist Gabriel Wilson, Transmission 1 doesn't stray all that far from the vibe and feel the band established three years ago. The opening track, "Sweating blood and a game of spin the bottle in a Jerusalem garden [THE END]" paints a picture of Judas' betrayal of Jesus through electro-flavored atmospheric rock. Stylistically, "The End" is relatively familiar territory, but that changes rather quickly as the four-song EP progresses. "14 nights and 23 days [WHEN}" is built upon a considerably more pop base with a danceable beat through energetic drumming and a pop synth. Lyrically, the EP is a lot more personal writing for Wilson. "When" is written as encouragement from our Savior that He doesn't abandon us when times are at their darkest and it might feel like He has, "When you can't hold on much longer / When you're weak I'll make you stronger / When you're lost you know I'm never far from where you are / When you're all alone and wishing / When your prayers have hit the ceiling / When you're lost you know I'm never far from where you are." Wilson illustrates a beautiful and comforting picture.
If the music of "When" throws some fans for a loop, "Open the letter to an unseen friend [PRAYER IN THE DARK]" will come as quite a shock. Opening with a dance pop synth with an electronic beat to match, "Prayer In The Dark" is a quirky and autobiographical look at Wilson's tragedies where Christ met him where he was at. It's a great pop track with a strong message, but nothing Listening fans are likely to expect from the indie rock act. From there, Transmission 1 is wonderfully wrapped up with "17th ave - tones on tail [FIGHT WITH YOU]," a pop ballad that pulls at the heartstrings as Wilson writes from God's perspective to someone feeling hurt and abandoned. The chorus is another beautiful reminder, "I'm gonna fight with you / I'm gonna bleed with you / I'm gonna cry with you / until this wall crumbles / I'm gonna pray with you / I'm gonna kneel with you / I'm gonna heal with you." Gabe's soft vocal delivery helps bring a peaceful feel to the song which builds as it progresses for a near epic finish.
As the ambient sounds of "Fight With You" fade out, we're left with a brief glimpse at what is to come from The Listening in the near future. The band has stated that the songs on Transmission 1 are the more accessible of the band's newest material, so it should be interesting to see what else these guys have up their sleeves. This more vulnerable, personal songwriting style works really well, especially to pull the listener in to The Listening experience. So until the release of their sophomore full-length project, LMNOP, the brief EP, Transmission 1, is a great way to be introduced to a new chapter in The Listening saga, as well as be reintroduced to a great band.- Review date: 12/14/08, written by John DiBiase of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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