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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