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Departure Lounge Release Album

Departure Lounge is a 4 piece Alternative band, comprised of Tim Keegan, Lindsay Jamieson, Jake Kyle, and Chris Anderson. Each member plays multiple instruments, including woodwinds and brass, such as flute and saxophone. That should give you an idea of the multiple soundscapes explored on their newest LP, Transmeridian.  The album is a reemergence, as Departure Lounge originally disbanded in 2002. They recently reunited to for some shows in their native U.K., and as fate would have it, recorded Transmeridian, immediately after.

As previously mentioned, Departure Lounge’s original era, is a considerably different landscape than the one that exists, today. To go 19 years without recording anything, on top of all of the members, being involved in other projects, how their music is perceived is contrasted. Where as when they began, their sound and audio aesthetic may have seemed somewhat untapped, in 2021 they find themselves potentially compared to some of the bands they influenced. Nevertheless, great music and art is timeless. It is nothing short of remarkable that Departure Lounge has been able to create such a cohesive and cerebral record, with presumably little to no forethought.

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Around half of the tracks on Transmeridian are instrumental, such as the case with “Al Aire Libre.” This is one of the first tracks that really spotlights the guitar, as we are treated to an almost mariachi style composition, complete with trumpet. Cinematic in scope, this song would be perfect alongside a mysterious horsemen, riding into a south of the border town, with all eyes focused on him. “Al Aire Libre,” emphatically proves just what caliber of musicians and creative minds, we are dealing with in Departure Lounge. This is 4 blokes from England, perfectly capturing the essence of a Classic Western.

“Paging Marco Polo” is either a let me up or a let me go track; depending on how you look at it. It’s somewhat painfully repetitive, and even a bit lethargic. We won’t say the song is skippable, because to do so would result in losing sight of the overarching context of the album. It is however, the first true polarizing moment on Transmeridian. Of course, this is followed by “Frederic’s Ghost,” a song whose title telegraphs it a bit. It’s a haunting piece, with a piano that sounds a couple rooms away, and some whistling paranormal winds that swirl around you like an unwelcome entity.

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Then of course we have, “Mr. Friendly,” which is easily the most up tempo and upbeat track on the album. It takes you by surprise a bit, because it stands out so much from the existential drivel of the rest of the record. It kind of sounds like Jeff Lynne recorded an alternate version of “Mr. Blue Sky” with The Lumineers. Walking down the warpath/shaking a tin on the town. This one is a nice momentary departure from the introspective isolation that dominates most of Transmeridian.

Considering the circumstances, Departure Lounge have cranked out a tremendous effort on Transmeridian. Had there been more time and contemplation, it’s fascinating to ponder what could have been achieved. At the same time, the spontaneity and accidental existence of Transmeridian, is most likely its greatest strength. It’s a storybook return for Departure Lounge, and there is no indication on whether this is a Swan Song for the group, or a long term investment. Whatever the case, Transmeridian has to be considered one of the most significant additions to Departure Lounge’s discography.

John McCall

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