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Transmissionary Six - Cosmonautical

  by John Clarkson

published: 28 / 3 / 2008

Transmissionary Six - Cosmonautical
Label: Tarnished Records
Format: CD


Uplifting and epic-sounding chamber pop on fifth album from previously melancholic Seattle-based band the Transmissionary Six, which is their most accessible album to date

There are very few bands that could be described as unique. The Transmissionary Six are one such band. They are a complete one-off.First formed in Seattle in 2001 by husband-and-wife team Paul Austin and Terri Moeller, they have released four previous studio albums, ‘Transmissionary Six’ (FILM Guerrero, 2002), ‘Spooked’ (FILM Guerrero, 2003), ‘Get Down’ (FILM Guerrero, 2004) and ‘Radar’ (Glitterhouse, 2006), and several limited edition live records. ‘Cosmonautical’, the Transmissionary Six’s fifth studio album, finds them on another new label, local Seattle label Tarnished Records, which has put out fine albums by Viarosa and Barn Burning in the last year or so, and working with a much broader palette than in the past. While their earlier albums were brooding and introverted alt. rock records, which Austin and Moeller described as music for “headphones” and “made by strange shy people for other strange shy people”, ‘Cosmonautical’ is an uplifting and epic-sounding chamber pop record. The abiding components of all the Transmissionary Six’s records to date have been singer and drummer Terri’s ethereal, dreamy vocals and guitarist and bassist Paul’s eccentric, off-kilter sound effects. Both have had a lot to do with making the group so special, and, with Paul also playing what he has dubbed on the sleeve notes as “contraptions and junk”, that remains unchanged on ‘Cosmonautical’. The canvas is, however, as well far wider than on their previous offerings. The contributions of Jon Hyde (pedal steel, piano, guitar, bass and wurlitzer), who appeared first of all as a guest on ‘Spooked’ and became the group’s third member at the time of ‘Radar’, have much to do with this. An increased influx of keyboards, played by the album’s producer Graig Markel, is another significant factor. While the Transmissionary Six would have once skulked in the shadows now they soar in the sunshine. There is perhaps not even the slightest resemblance of truth to the way in which ‘Cosmonautical’ was in fact recorded. One can really, however, imagine as one listens to it Terri sitting writing screeds of quirky poetry about Thomas Edison, cults and bad TV shows, all subject matter for the lyrics on this record. Paul and Jon, like hyperactive, but happy children given too many sweets, meanwhile dash around Graig’s studio, pulling instruments out of cupboards and off walls, and find magical sounds to match her words. There is such an element of both experimentation and also energetic joy to ‘Cosmonautical’. ‘Zero Gravity’ finds Terri imagining with a sense of awe what it would be like to walk in space with a lover, and merges chiming bubbles of keyboards with tingling guitar noises. ‘Edison Stare’, one of the two songs on ‘Cosmonautical’ about the inventor of electricity, combines big, brash swabs of guitar, rustling percussion and squawking breezes of harmonica with more of those poppy synthesisers. ‘They Finally Let Me Drive’ has a jangling, industrial sound, its clattering stabs of piano and Paul’s metallic guitar loops both being pushed with a frantic, delighted frenzy ever upwards. ‘Lovesick at the Crimescene’, a homage to pulp fiction, meanwhile has funk beats, an almost hip hop guitar sound and pulsating echoes of slinky synths. The Transmissionary Six will perhaps always be too eccentric, too abstract in theme and too much in a class of their own to remain anything else but a largely unknown talent. ‘Cosmonautical’ won’t possibly as a result bring them a much wider audience. Yet if this was a fairer world, it should. Unashamedly pop-oriented, this excellent album is their most accessible record to date.

Track Listing:-
1 Zero Gravity
2 The Dangling Electrified Boy
3 Edison Stare
4 Landslide
5 They Finally Let Me Drive
6 I Want to Deprogram You
7 Lovesick at the Crimescene
8 Finders Keepers
9 Your Holland Code
10 Untitled (Bonus Track)

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Interview with Paul Austin and Terri Moeller (2003)
Transmissionary Six - Interview with Paul Austin and Terri Moeller
The project of Walkabouts' drummer Terri Moeller and former Willard Grant Conspiracy guitarist Paul Austin, Transmissionary Six are about to release a second album, 'Spooked'.John Clarkson speaks to them about it and their forthcoming first European tour
Interview with Paul Austin (2002)

digital downloads


Radar (2006)
Impressively diverse and expansive fourth album ,and their first on the Glitterhouse label, from Seattle-based alt. rock group, the Transmissionary Six
Get Down (2005)
Go Fast for Cheap (2003)
Desoto (2002)
Transmissionary Six (2002)

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