Plumbiferous Media

Avoid the Light – Long Distance Calling

May 24th 2009
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Avoid the Light - Long Distance CallingLong Distance Calling
Avoid the Light
Score: 86

Long Distance Calling is a German post-rock band which began releasing music three years ago. Since then, they’ve put out several strong albums. Avoid the Light, which displays Long Distance Calling’s expertise with the facets of instrumental music while also experimenting with the addition of vocals, is their third.

Avoid the Light begins well, with a subtle, simple intro speckled with bits of intriguing sound. It quickly moves into the main section, which uses a strong baseline to support the progression of the tracks. Though the baseline is rather repetitive, it still forms an excellent backbone for the album, especially matched with a melody which makes good use of both the instruments present as well as techno-like distortion, which adds an intriguing element of complexity to the music.

While the first four tracks are above-average examples of post-rock, distinguished by strong instrumentals and an interesting progression, the fifth track, “The Nearing Grave,” tops everything before it. Bringing in ethereal vocals which effectively complement the powerful instrumentals, “The Nearing Grave” takes the formula of earlier tracks and further refines it, creating an excellent track.

Though Avoid the Light is populated by relatively long tracks, Long Distance Calling has managed to avoid allowing their energy to dip near the end of long tracks, as is often the case with tracks of such length. Instead, Avoid the Light is filled with tracks which acknowledge and use their length expertly, to the point where it’s quite rewarding to hear a theme progress over, for example, the 12 minutes of “Apparitions.”

“Apparitions,” like many post-rock tracks, starts out soft, then slowly builds by having new instruments enter; melodies change and eventually the track grows into quite a heavy sound. But “Apparitions” differs from these other post-rock tracks in that the sequences and melodies are repeated for long stretches of time, and nothing, not even the dynamic, changes from beginning to end of that portion of the music. And “Apparitions” is not on its own in the album. Both “359” and “I Know You, Stanley Milgram!” suffer from this same repetition, and the strong tracks are so much better than the weaker tracks because the increased attention that Long Distance Calling has paid to subtle dynamic differences is made incredibly apparent.

But “Apparitions” is also an example of what makes Avoid the Light stand out. The only sound carrying the track for the first thirty seconds is purely synthetic. Overall, even while ensuring that every other instrument: guitar, bass, drums, and the rare samples and vocals, is incredibly powerful on its own, Long Distance Calling does a great job of including the synth, not only in the background, but in the foreground of its sound.

Even with occasionally heavy amounts of repetition, Long Distance Calling has produced an incredibly diverse musical album. There is a little of something for everyone on Avoid the Light, punk, acoustic, indie, disco, and hard-rock fans included. While Avoid the Light is not without its flaws, and while the album could have benefited from slightly more attention to the small details, Long Distance Calling has produced a very strong, creative album.

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