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White Rose Transmission – Happiness At Last

White Rose Transmission – Happiness At Last

Born Melancholic.

Carlo van Putten (Dead Guitars, The Convent) started the project White Rose Transmission with Adrian Borland of The Sound in 1995. The two musicians initially bonded after a cover version of The Sound’s ‘Winning’ and a close friendship followed. Mark Burgess of The Chameleons was also briefly involved making it a three singer project, at least for a short moment. The initial ‘plan’ for White Rose Transmission was for each of the frontmen to take turns in helming the lead performance. Sadly it turned out somewhat differently. White Rose Transmission had released two albums before Adrian’s devastating suicide in 1999. Fans might have been forgiven for assuming that the project might end there but van Putten was of a different mindset. Music is Carlo’s passion, Borland his dear friend and White Rose Transmission their legacy. Carlo took the decision to continue White Rose Transmission. The band currently comprises former Aestrid members Robert Smeekes and Thomas Marcin with Dead Guitars alumni Kurt Schmidt on production duties and Van Putten the ever-present crooner.

Fast forward and Happiness At Last is, I think, the seventh White Rose Transmission album. It is a melancholic listening experience, but not solely. As befitting this particular ensemble the music here is experienced through a sepia-tinged, European gauze. The jauntier guitars verge upon the Spanish at times but for the most part Happiness At Last transports us more to a Paris or Berlin. This is a rainy walk alongside the river, or a carousel waltz at twilight. Everything is hazy. Everything is blurred. The album revolves around the ‘Happiness’ axis of ‘Happy As The Day Is Long’, which closes the vinyl side one and the title track which opens the flip side. Before those there’s a strong opening sequence containing standouts such as the dusty-eyed ‘Machinery Of Grace’ and the Blue Nile-eque ‘Featherweight’.

In the end we come full circle in more ways than one. There’s an acoustic reprise of the title track and, blow me, a cover of The Sound’s ‘Winning’ – a fitting way of closing the loop. The album ends on a note of positivity. ‘False Light’ begins as a breezy busk and builds toward an atmospheric finale. Towards the climax backing vocals come to the fore, flourishing into a rag tag choir. It’s where ‘False Light’ really packs its punch. There’s optimism here. Hope and, dare I say, light. I leave it to the listener to determine the truth or falsehood of it all.

With stunning cover art and linear notes Happiness At Last is another fine album from the van Putten stable. The guy was “Born Melancholic”. I think its long since time to get that back on a t-shirt, Carlo.

Happiness At Last is released 15th Nov 2020. Find out more and follow WRT via the link below. Featured here is non-album single ‘Trumpets’.

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