Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Long Distance Calling - The Flood Inside

Long Distance Calling
The Flood Inside
Superball Music/Century Media Records/E.M.I. Music Australia

German (M√ľnster based) outfit Long Distance Calling are one of the progressive/post rock underground scene’s best kept secrets. Over the course of their three full-length releases to date (2007’s ‘Satellite Bay’, 2009’s ‘Avoid The Light’ and 2011’s ‘Long Distance Calling’), the band have built up an impressive following, with each and every new release seeing an increased amount of attention and critical acclaim from fans and press alike. And deservedly so too, as Long Distance Calling have that rare ability to produce music that works entirely in instrumental form, barring the odd venture into vocal territory from guest vocalists.
It’s been two years since we last heard from Long Distance Calling, and in that time the band has undergone a bit of a change, with group founder and the man responsible for electronics within the group, Reimut Van Bonn parting ways with the group in 2012. Instead of replacing Van Bonn, the band (Guitarists David Jordan and Florian Funtmann, bassist Jan Hoffmann and drummer Janosch Rathmer) have decided to invite some guest programmers/electronic coordinators (Robot Koch, Alex Komlew and Mario Cullmann) to help flesh out ‘The Flood Inside’. The biggest change however is the addition of Pigeon Toe/ex-Fear My Thoughts vocalist/keyboardist Martin ‘Marsen’ Fischer to their ranks. No doubt, the biggest question on most lips is how much change does the addition of a vocalist to an act like Long Distance Calling who are predominately an instrumental outfit? And do the three guest programmers on ‘The Flood Inside’ fill the void left behind by Van Bonn?
Well in short, not a whole lot has changed within Long Distance Calling.
Sure, ‘The Flood Inside’ has a greater number of vocal tracks, but vocals have always played their part on previous albums. And as for the programmers, you’d be hard pressed to know a change has taken place for the most part.
Long Distance Calling opens up their latest opus with ‘Nucleus’, which is fairly typical of what you would expect of the band with its ebb and flow mix of heavy rock and passages of gentle atmospherics. There are some great heavy moments within the track where the guitars are allowed to rock out in a heavy fashion, while the guest guitar solo from Henrik Freischlader adds a great blues touch to the latter half of the track. All up, this track provides a great start to the album.
Fischer’s first appearance on the album comes in the form of ‘Inside The Flood’. And if I were to be honest, it’s perhaps one of the weaker songs on the album. There’s no disputing Fischer is a great vocalist (Fear My Thoughts’ last album ‘Isolation’ from 2008 is a personal favourite of mine), he just doesn’t sound comfortable here, with the melodies sadly lacking in the choruses.
Despite the minor hiccup on the former track, the band more than make up for their misstep in ‘Ductus’, which starts off with some sparsely played guitar over spoken word quotes from ‘Twin Peaks’ in a mild mid-paced tempo, before building ever so gently to incorporate some dominate sounding tribal drums, some huge sounding guitar riffs and plenty of catchy heavy drawn out groove moments.
Fischer’s second foray into vocals on ‘Tell The End’ is a much more rewarding experience, with the choruses standing out in the way they rightfully should outside the ever building verses. Fischer gets to fully explore his range (Something he couldn’t do within ‘Inside The Flood’), which showcases his ability as a front man, while the sly inclusion of a spoken word quote from ‘American Psycho’ (2000) is exceedingly well done.
Outside of Fischer, Long Distance Calling also has a couple of other guest vocalists – namely Petter Carlsen and Vincent Cavanagh (Anathema) – both who appear on ‘Welcome Change’. The track itself will disappoint those who are hoping to hear Cavanagh sing anything more than back-ups in the choruses. But if you overlook the lack of Cavanagh, ‘Welcome Change’ is a fairly strong effort, and one that stands out as a bit of a detour from the rest of the album on the vocal front in a good way.
‘Waves’ sees the band move into more experimental territory with the use of electronic manipulation and spoken word (Courtesy of Folkways Records & Service Corp.’s 1958 album based on sound – ‘The Sound Of Science’) to great effect. While the use of guitars and drums are used sparingly, the constant rise and fall of electronic noises and the echoed effect put on a few sampled words and violins create a truly mesmerising track.
After a few experimental numbers, Long Distance Calling returns to the rock big time with the Fischer fronted/groove driven/anthem-like ‘The Man Within’, before concluding the album with the epic instrumental ‘Breaker’, which initially starts out on a stoner rock path, before exploding around the halfway mark to take on a heavy progressive rock direction. Again, the closer is another of the album’s many highlights.
Long Distance Calling hasn’t yet managed to really break the big time, but it’s not through a lack of trying or talent. Long Distance Calling have both those qualities in abundance. And while I doubt that ‘The Flood Inside’ is likely to break the band this time around, it will at least earn the band more critical acclaim, and more followers to their cause.

For more information on Long Distance Calling, check out - https://www.facebook.com/longdistancecalling

© Justin Donnelly