The third Long Distance Calling album is self-titled.
Now why is that so?
I could think of many examples where bands do this on their first album.
But the third?
There has to be some special meaning to it then.
Perhaps they’re trying to say something…
Is the band feeling estranged from its listeners and trying to reach out to us with this record by using this title? Or could it be that communications have deteriorated such that only a Long Distance Call is taken seriously?
However you want to interpret it, Long Distance Calling provides another almost entirely instrumental heavy and spacey rock album. One that they say is song and theme oriented, despite the lack of lyrics for the most part although there is a “proper” song on here, Middleville, featuring John Bush on vocals.
The band states that: “Our writing is very song orientated; the song itself is the most important thing. We’re mostly jamming when we write songs, trying to find a basic structure and then filling and building it up with sounds, melodies and atmospheres. On the new album we rediscovered the power of the riff.”.
One can definitely hear powerful riffs throughout the album’s 7 tracks, blurring the border between rock and metal with their heaviness and groove. While the origins of the songs lie in jams, there is certainly clear direction and melody to the each piece as well as development and buildup. While it lacks lyrics, the music is quite emotional, ranging from aggressive and in-your-face-riffing (Invisible Giants) to slower and a little mellower yet still powerful parts (Timebends). Moreoever, there are some sections where the music is quite groovy (Invisible Giants, Into The Black Wide Open), but still the general vibe of the album is somber and dark.
Interestingly the band says the following: “We don't listen a lot to other instrumental bands and we don’t see LONG DISTANCE CALLING as a ‘postrock’ band at all; it's instrumental rock… but it’s cool that some people hear them in our music anyway.” So, should one care what a band thinks of themselves, or dismiss it altogether and say: “Hey, you’re playing post-rock, even if you don’t like it to be so”. Well, they do play in the same ballpark, do they not? They do share common characteristics with that “style”. However, makes them special, is indeed what I mentioned above; they seem to write songs, just without vocals. They also seem intent on making their compositions dynamic and at times unpredictable. They certainly don’t rely on a slow build-up, crescendo and then back again formula. They don’t just play riffs over and over and let them develop over time. They play energetic and dynamic instrumental rock/metal and seem to progress them into interesting directions. Indeed, their “songs” are exciting and do have elements of the “post-rock” sound, but at the same time, they have other elements in there. The end result is that Long Distance Calling manages to create its own sound that differentiates them from the lot. Good examples on this album are Arecibo, Beyond The Void, The Figrin D’an Boogie and Middleville.
These tracks show the diversity of the band’s sound and their ambitious song-writing. While it may sound all just loud rock/metal, there is a clear path for the song. There are cool and interesting progressions and side-tracking. And most of all, there is raw power. With all of these songs, you’ll find yourself banging your head to. The band itself says “It's the most diverse recording we’ve done so far.” And what I hear here makes me agree with this statement.
One last thing, I’d love to hear cooler drumming such as that in the opening part of Arecibo, which is well done and creates a different atmosphere than the rest of the song. This will lead to even more variety of the band’s music. But aside from that I think this album finds the band giving equal balance to their tendencies: Their heavy metallic side with powerful riffs (all songs but Invisible Giants in particular), their mellower side (parts of Timebends) and lastly their creative and progressive tendencies (The Figrin D’an Boogie, Beyond The Void).