Long Distance Calling have been a busy crew since their inception in 2006. Releasing four full-length albums and two EP’s in their decade-long career, they’ve shown a growth over time, not only in their overall sound but in the general band dynamic. With their previous album “The Flood Inside”, they decided on moving from a mainly instrumental sound (save for scattered guest vocals in the band’s catalogue from such metal front men as Peter Dolving, John Bush, and Jonas Renkse) to building in vocals with Martin Fischer at the helm. After a short break, enter new vocalist Petter Carlsen and welcome to the 2016 version of the band with their newest effort “TRIPS”.
In their newest musical venture, we find a universal and past and future theme that is continuous with not only the lyrical basis of the album, but with the overall vibe contained on the project. Album opener “Getaway” sets the tone with an eighties vibe, especially with the synthesizers. “Reconnect” strips down the previous retro vibe and becomes more commanding and forceful in it’s delivery, while “Rewind” gives us somber piano tones to start that continues with lumbering drums and a jagged guitar tone. This song is atmospheric as hell and shows depth in the band’s sound, especially with the harmonious vocals near the end, which makes it very spacious sounding. While this song has totally locked-in my curiosity, it’s just too short for me as I’d like to hear where they could’ve gone with some expansion in the time frame. “Trauma” has a big sound in both heavy tones and the more subtle drawn-out passages, while “Lines” gives us a more fervent and demanding approach which is more fast-paced and upbeat. “Presence” is ambient in it’s approach, the guitar sound almost mimicking bird calls. A spoken passage tells us “We all have our time machines, don’t we? Those that take us back; our memories. And those that carry us forward; our dreams”, which builds on the explorative theme of the album. “Momentum” features playful drum patterns and a mixed guitar bag of big chords and accented notes, bringing up the speed on the laid back theme of the song. “Plans” showcases to me the special qualities of the group. It moves from depressing guitar and ominous piano to a more expansive and mighty sound, conveying a ton of emotion with the depth of the composition, building to a dominant finish. And album closer “Flux” (the longest song at over twelve minutes in length) really encapsulates the overall mood of “TRIPS”. It contains a beautiful atmosphere with skilled but not overdone guitar work, and it shifts in sound from subtle interplay between instruments to eruptive post-rock bliss.
The songs don’t go past the five-minute mark until the last three tracks of the album, which definitely helps ease in the listener to the more eruptive and emotive nature of the album. And while I feel that “TRIPS” is maybe more accessible and not overly technical like some progressive bands, it demands attention from the listener with it’s varied themes and originality. It would be safe to say that there is a post-rock/metal vibe on some songs more than others, but it doesn’t define the band’s sound by any means. The general talent component of their sound is a “less is more” approach. Not in the sense that they aren’t talented as hell, but they take a simple idea and put it on a grand stage. Expansive and unpredictable are terms I’d use to describe the nature of the band’s sound. You can’t really define the music in a grand sense, and that’s what I love.
To sum up, the band’s bio for this album gave a very telling synopsis of where Long Distance Calling is at creatively in their present state; “’For the first time, the band drew back from the world, withdrew to a solitary mountain hut – and reinvented themselves. “This is what really sparked our creativity”, they have to say about this inspiring experience. “No one is able to achieve a great result without focusing.’”
Focus shines brightly on this album, and with the memorable journey we have received with the plethora of sounds that are poured generously into this album, the future will take them to new reaches in the musical galaxy for which they inhabit. I welcome this with open arms and eager eardrums.
Playing time: 48:49
Release date: 29 April, 2016
Label: Inside Out