LONG DISTANCE CALLING
Three years on from their fourth album, 'The Flood Inside', and Germany's Long Distance Calling have returned to the fore with a career-best fifth full-length offering in the form of 'Trips'. An apt title, I would suggest, as the nine cuts constituting this release are just that: sonically compelling journeys through a series of finely crafted, poly-divergent soundscapes. Some, including those responsible for penning the accompanying press blurb, will opt to posit this within the ever-ambiguous 'genres' of post-rock or prog-rock, both of which are virtually redundant labels if you consider the wide ranging heterogeneity of sounds and styles so-called post-rock and prog-rock bands incorporate in their output. Sure, Long Distance Calling adhere to rock traits, and a few common idioms to both aforementioned 'genres', but any attempt to pigeon-hole the magnificent work of art they've forged here would be a hideous injustice to both its integrity, originality and sheer brilliance. More simply put, this is just fucking great music; both emotive-driven and exhilarating - two essential qualities to any songs ever, regardless of any genre underpinnings.
So, the big question - does 'Trips' continue their more prominent use of vocals as first evidenced on 'The Flood Inside'? Indeed it does. Some tracks are purely instrumental; others have singing... so Long Distance Calling still haven't entirely abandoned their instrumental roots. And the "permanent" member they previously recruited to take up duties as both the band's keyboardist and sporadic singer seems to be no more in their ranks. While Martin “Marsen” Fischer has been credited with keys on the album, press materials talk about his "amicable departure". Instead, here we have the ever-impressive vocal talents of Norwegian singer-songwriter Petter Carlsen (a guy Anathema's Danny Cavanagh recommended I should check out a few years ago) and, jeez, can this man sing with so much emotional profundity. Fischer's vocals were good but far from great. However, Carlsen's voice is just sublime, and in the most natural of ways, thus blends with Long Distance Calling's instrumentations in a true organic sense.
It must be said that the introduction of vocals in the band's palette seems like such a natural progression within the context of their music... after all, the voice, in essence, is but one more instrument, and this has been incorporated in such a way as to broaden their aesthetic without compromising it. And, vocals aside, their very aesthetic has ostensibly become far more expansive on this outing, though, conversely, through a heightened sense of simplicity. Instrumentations have been layered, though never cluttered, in such a refined sense as to suggest enough subtle emotional depths, without ever forcing the affections of the music. And sticksman Janosch Rathmer's deployment of a standard 4/4 rock beat on numerous occasions seems like such a simple and clichéd device to succumb to (some might even say lazy) but the band incorporate rhythms to stupendously amazing effect. Why destroy a well-written song with bizarre time signatures, just for the sake of exercising your technical abilities as musicians, when a good old four-on-the-floor pattern will do! Long Distance Calling have fully embraced both rhythmic simplicity, yet diversity, within their compositions and it's an intrinsic element of what makes 'Trips' such an engaging listen from start to finish. Oh, and Fischer's keys are magnificent throughout. As are David Jordan and Florian Füntmann's guitars and Jan Hoffmann's bass work. It all works so well in a simple, subtle, yet sublime way, topped off by a wonderful production by Vincent Sorg.
Review by Mark Holmes
29th April 2016
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...sonically compelling journeys through a series of finely crafted, poly-divergent soundscapes."