1. Who is the band? What is their history? What motivates them?
“Long Distance Calling, is a five-piece band from Germany's Münster region. Their second album, Avoid The Light, has been released on 24 April 2009 on Superball Music and promises everything you find yourself looking for without avail in most contemporary bands: an immediate coexistence of depth and exaltation, melancholia and joie de vivre, great gestures and small peculiarities” (Long Distance Calling, My Space.com, 2009).
“The five band members, David Jordan (guitar), Janosch Rathmer (drums), Florian Füntmann (guitar), Jan Hoffmann (bass) and Reimut van Bonn (ambience), impress with an even more open-minded and progressive approach on Avoid The Light. According to the musicians, the six new tracks present "an even wider stylistic range than our debut and are – as a direct consequence of our numerous gigs in 2008, with Dredg, at the Rock am Ring and Roadburn festivals, among others – faster, more haunting and more dynamic” (Long Distance Calling, My Space.com, 2009).
“Thanks to the thoroughly positive reactions to our first release, we have generally become much keener on experimentation." In view of the whole album's atmospheric density, there seems to be little point in highlighting individual tracks, yet the impressive opener, 'Apparitions', with its hypnotic flair, 'I Know You, Stanley Milgram!', an expansive number in terms of playing time and style (coincidentally, Stanley Milgram happens to be an interesting character who is definitely worth googling), and the closing track, 'Sundown Highway' with its sophisticated guitar work should not be left unmentioned” (Long Distance Calling, My Space.com, 2009).
“As its predecessor, Avoid The Light features – along with the five instrumental tracks – a number with a renowned guest vocalist. While Satellite Bay presented The Haunted's Peter Dolving, Jonas Renkse (Katatonia) recorded the vocal number 'The Nearing Grave' on the latest Long Distance Calling release. "We're all great Katatonia fans, so it seemed the obvious thing to do to ask Jonas" (Long Distance Calling, My Space.com, 2009).
“Avoid The Light was produced by Kurt Ebelhäuser (Blackmail, Donots, among others), a true master of his art.”The collaboration with him had a thoroughly positive effect on our sound," observe the band members and can be confident that the transparent production does justice to their fascinating compositional parameters at all times” (Long Distance Calling, My Space.com, 2009).
2. Why did they make this album? What was the passion or message that forced them to produce what they have? Or, simply what was their motivation for the themes they chose for this album?
This was the follow – up to their critically successful Satellite Bay album. They wanted to get more experimental with Avoid the Light and expand on their sound.
3. What message are they delivering through their lyrics and music?
1. Apparitions - Keys and synths start this one off mysteriously. Cool opening, then guitar and drums while the keys whirl around like a windstorm or the start of a funnel. The piano, keys and drums building to a crescendo. Guitars riffing to the swirling sound of keys and synths, then a quiet pluck of electric guitar and the echo effect, almost like a King Crimson song. Very nice. Drums keeping time while the rhythm begins to build slowly again. The sound of rain or running water kicks in during the middle of the piece surrounded by that plucking of the guitar and the keys and synths. Awesome effect! Off to a great start.
2. Black Paper Planes - Slow quiet building synth effects then drums and a great guitar riff in the background. Then the action begins again. Picks up where the last one left off. Grinding guitars and drum with keys surrounding the whole building aura. Then slamming drums and a U2 Edge sounding guitar solo intermixed with pounding drums and background guitar. The grinding guitars plow through and bring this one to a higher level. Very cool. More of a Rush sound to these guitars with good punishing drums and then those keys and synths. The synths even sound circa Moving Pictures Rush. Then full stop.
3. 359o - Slow almost acoustic sounding guitar with keys, drums and synths supporting. A slower, more deliberate sound. Taking full advantage of the quiet to build anticipation for the cool guitars surrounding from all over the room. The two lead guitarist effect taken to new heights. Very cool. One building rhythm the other dashing out riffs. Very cool.
4. I Know You, Stanley Milgram! - You need to Google Stanley Milgram to really get the full effect of this one. I read some of his work in college, so I was already familiar. Experimental psychology is here in the mysterious keyboard and synth opening. Like the opening of the mind. Very Rush influenced. They love science and nature as well. Cool effects and sounds. Wind chimes and what sounds like crickets or maybe synthesized frogs. Then you feel like you are left alone in a room or outdoor gazebo of wind chimes, right before the guitars and drums blast off! Wow! Very cool effect. This is one of the epics on this six song album. Then kind of slow grinding guitar in the middle to quiet things down, before a full stop, then rhythmic drums and guitar building momentum. Keys interweaving with synths, guitars and drums, then finally the finale builds. Waiting for one last surprise…the Geddy Lee like guitar growl the tops off this epic.
5. The Hearing Grave - Fast picking electric guitar building with the accompaniment of another slowly plucked lead guitar. Great effect, then the keys come in. Power guitar and drums with keys and synths surrounding. Finally vocals and lyrics. But they are quiet and hard to understand. “Once I heard you say.” Wish I could understand more. But the title gives away the story no doubt. Echoing voice effects with lead guitar supporting. “Presence within my love. Where did I go?”
6. Sundown Highway - Drums and cymbals open this with background synths and keys. Nice effect. Guitar riff, with that background guitar is so effective. Two guitars where most bands only use one. Fills space and builds a stronger sound for the band. Pounding drums building effect with slow strummed guitar is wonderful. Then we’re off and running with full guitar support. Then we grind off into the sunset, before finishing with acoustic guitars at the finale.
4. Does this music improve, change, or add to the genre? What does the listener receive from listening to the music?
I have not heard the rest of the catalog to know if they ended up as experimental as they planned with this album. But the musicianship is superb. Original rhythms and melodies, but without vocals I am always left flat. This is cool to listen to with headphones or to fill a room during a party, but the communication is always limited without words.
These bands that are primarily instrumentalist are very good, but need the sound and talent of a lead singer to really lift them. It must be incredibly hard for these bands to find that perfect vocalist they are in search of to take them to the next level.
The music is very good, but it is limited for me without vocals to express some of the power. The Stanley Milgram song would have sounded even better with some powerful supporting lyrics.
5. Does it have longevity? Is it something a fan will like to play again and again?
Yes, for listening with headphones or certain atmospheric effects.
Rating: 7/10 – Very good music for headphones, but they need to find a lead vocalist to really expand beyond and branch out into mainstream prog or post rock fan circles.
Reviewed by Prof on August 12th, 2009