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Long Distance Calling – Long Distance Calling (Album Review)

Tuesday, 08 March 2011 Written by Rob Sleigh
Long Distance Calling – Long Distance Calling (Album Review)

When it comes to rock music of any description, most of us are probably more likely to opt for a band with a singer over one of their instrumental counterparts. Supposedly, it's preferable to have a bit of a good old sing-song when you're at a gig or maybe it's just the presence of a frontman that helps to hold things together. It's probably also fair to say that, apart from the odd few exceptions like Mogwai for example, there aren't too many instrumental groups about that have actually had their fair share of success. But anyway, one of the latest bands attempting to buck the “lead singer” trend is German five-piece Long Distance Calling. Like the aforementioned Scottish post-rockers, LDC depend on powerful and enchanting guitar music in the absence of any vocals. However, unlike Mogwai, Long Distance Calling are being careful to steer clear of the term “post-rock”, preferring the much more direct genre description of “instrumental rock”. Probably to avoid the lazy pigeon-holing that is far too often associated with bands that don't have a singer. Fair enough.

With any music that lacks lyrics or any kind of vocal accompaniment, there's always the risk that you might end up sounding like you're trying to record a film soundtrack. But then again, why not? Indeed, 'Long Distance Calling' does sound very much like it could be a film score. From the moment it starts on opener 'Into the Black Wide Open', there's drama, emotion and action galore, with an extra layer of thrills, horror and even certain elements of sci-fi thrown in for good measure. The album is a very textured and multi-layered piece above all, but that's not to say that there's no good, old fashioned rock fun to be had as well. Track 2, 'The Figrin D'an Boogie' for example, mixes elements of ambitious space rock with even more retro, psychedelic synth music and, finally, bluesy stoner rock. Now there's a healthy rock'n'roll cocktail if ever there was such a thing.

ImageDespite Long Distance Calling's proud status as an instrumental heavy rock group, they've chosen to borrow the vocal talents of former Anthrax singer John Bush on track 'Middleville'. The addition of Bush's theatrical singing makes for an excellent complement to what is probably one of the most ballad-like tracks on the album.

Long Distance Calling may not have a voice, as it were, but what they do to make up for it is to blend as many exciting and tasteful sounds into the mix as possible. However, that isn't to say that this is a reckless mish-mash of music made without any real care or focus. Far from it. The structure and ambition to 'Long Distance Calling' is undeniable and proves to be an enjoyable body of work overall. Surely it can't be long before they really are making their first film score. Also, without the ego of a singer, Long Distance Calling are free to build a reputation as a seriously praiseworthy rock band.

Stereoboard Rating: 8/10

<'Long Distance Calling' – Out 14th March

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