We shouldn’t talk too much about the multifaceted career of one of the best and most internationally successful instrumental Rock Bands from Germany. Instead, let us review the most important facts: For almost one and a half decades, Long Distance Calling from Munster have been proving how profound and versatile their sound is, without using a lot of words nor having much in the way of singing in their songs. Their last six studio records demonstrate their compositional skill, where everything easily finds its place. With that ability they construct lively images in the heads of their listeners and get people to fall for their unconventional and unique music.
The last six albums told us a vivid, artistic and personal history, which is nowhere near over yet. In fact it seems that LDC are just beginning to really experiment with new sounds in every possible angle and are fully devoted to further progression. Their live energy and artistic dedication became apparent on their latest semi acoustic „Seats & Sounds“-Tour, where the band recorded an impressive documentation entitled Stummfilm (The Tour will be continued this fall). Besides numerous chart positions, Long Distance Calling received an outstanding honor for their work on Stummfilm. The band was nominated for “Den Deutschen Musikautorenpreis 2020”. It is a highly respected award, not decided by sales, but only by artistic effort. With both Stummfilm and their tour, the quartet finished a chapter and brought an artistic era to an end – paving the way for something new.
The seventh studio album from Long Distance Calling is entitled „How Do We Want To Live? “. The album contains ten new songs, which all contain classic LDC-Trademarks. Therefore, the new record describes the importance of their own artistic self-image and simultaneously brings something completely fresh and unexpected to the table. The band has been ambitious in the way they experiment with new electronic sounds and how they embrace those elements in their music. Naturally, they create an atmosphere and a vibrant environment in which they craft completely new sounds- effortlessly fitting into the way the band works. A perfect symbiosis between human and machine, artistic intelligence and the basic human values and lastly technical progress and the regression of personal freedom.
“The electronic sound adjusts beautifully to the conventional superstructure”, states drummer Janosch Rathmer. “At the same time it is an electronic sound, we control and program ourselves. We are aiming that the sound appears as homogeneous as our own instruments. We still want a human signature and therefore it is important to us that the sound is not too mechanic and totally disconnected to an organic sound. Especially nowadays studios use one-dimensional plug-ins, where the music loses its origin. Therefore we worked on something that still reflects us in a special and unique way.” Those who have known Long Distance Calling for a longer period of time won’t be surprised about the bands approach. Also not surprising is the comment of one of the of the band members fathers, who compared their new music to a modern version of Pink Floyd.
“The idea for a conceptual superstructure arose last autumn, which was still early in our working process. In the following month we passionately worked on the songwriting and debated conception and content. Never before had we thought of a topic for an album that much” explains Jan Hoffmann. He adds: “The more you read about it, the more additional layers it gets.”
It is safe to say that Long Distance Calling’s „How Do We Want to Live?“ is a thoughtful and thematic record, which describes the current situation. “All songs were already done, before we could see the current developments”, says drummer Janosch. “Surely the overall melancholy we always provide fits genuinely to this period.” Bass Player Jan comments on that: „ Due to the Lock-Downs the entire life calms down, which provides a special atmosphere in itself .As a band where atmosphere is an integral part of our art we wanted to explore the forces of that. But we are not using a dark, apocalyptic approach, we focus more on a hopeful confident way that inspires people. Hopefully, we created something that brings people joy in those extreme times.”
In that context we ask the band this one single question: How do you want to live? Jan summarizes the thoughts of the band behind the concept of the album: “At the moment we are in a situation, where we can’t say if a technical development strengthens utopia or dystopia. It gets evident that everything is developing exponentially. The contact with technology is getting harder every day. Everyone, even we as a band, want to explore the future, but we should start to take a closer look at how we leave digital footprints and how we give up on our personal rights. Sometimes I am missing the sense of it all. Do we have to commit to every technical innovation, only because it is possible now? And will someone force me to use new technology that will define my life. Nowadays more and more cultural manners tumble, which I thought of before as non-negotiable – like how you treat someone you talk to. Just a few years of hate in different online forums changed the way discussions are held. That leads to a loss of objectiveness and makes discussions nearly impossible. Besides, conspiracy theories are getting more popular every day. In times of the Pandemic that phenomena goes around faster than ever and less people are interested in where opinions come from and who placed them and why they did it. Even if you are very interested in world politics, nobody really knows, to what extent we got influenced by others and got politically manipulated.”
It’s not about criticizing the future or rejecting technological development. The band examines the presence of postmodernism and breathless progression of the digital age from all sides. “There are for sure also developments that make life easier and safer” says Janosch. “Alone the positive influences, that global networks have on medical progress and contribute actively on saving lifes: That’s bloody awesome!”
The album still visits some of the traditions that were demonstrated on the first four albums: that with one particular song vocals are added anyway. On “How Do We Want To Live?” it’s the track “Beyond Your Limits”. The lyrics pick up and deepen the subject of the album in a poetical manner. They are sung by Eric A. Pulverich of the band Kyles Tolone, “we got to know him over our producer Arne Neurand” says Jan. “We were instantly fascinated by his voice and we wanted to show the quality of his voice and melodies instead of doing some name dropping.” In addition to the renowned Arne Neurand, who produced the album in Horus Sound Studio in Hanover, is a brilliant team of experts that make the album a total work of art. This includes French Mastering-Specialist Jean-Pierre Chalbos and Max Löffler, who is responsible for the futuristic-artistic artwork and the whole design of the album.
So what is this Album? With “How Do We Want To Live?” Long Distance Calling forged a sharply contoured, artistically tight manifesto about the actual state of digital progress, in which basic values like ethics, individual freedom and general humanism get more diffuse and abstract. At the same time this album is a call to the listener to read between the lines and look for subtexts and connections. It is compressed to an unintentional self-fulfilling prophecy as a result of a collective feeling, that in this world some things are going wrong. A world in which soon, every technological development demands a personal limitation, which are even assumed. Self-determination and the freedom of individuals are given up for the next sensation on social media.
Janosch: ”If you only take a look at the countries, in which the spreading of the Corona-pandemic is relatively under control: these are exactly the countries that are observing their people rigorously day and night, through movement apps or GPS scanner. For sure, with methods like this it’s easier to retrace, when and who had contact with an infected person and to take the appropriate action. But on the other side it demands the willingness of each person to make themselves transparent. If you would have told someone of the Stasi, what is today’s standard, that nearly everyone voluntarily has cameras and microphones in their apartments, that record uninterrupted peoples entire lives, they would die of laughter. The thing about this is, that you basically would have to question critically every action you take online in social media. But of course no one does this. And it’s desired to be like this.” And that is finally the reason why Long Distance Calling dedicate a whole album to the subject of artificial intelligence. “We would be very happy, if the new album is not only an interesting listening experience, but hopefully provokes thoughts, that will be a part of talks and discussions that take place completely offline, in real life, face to face. It’s important that we bring to our minds how our life works in real social structures and how they should be shaped.”
- David Jordan – guitarra
- Janosch Rathmer – bateria
- Florian Füntmann – violão
- Jan Hoffmann – baixo
- Petter Carlsen – vocais
- Martin Fischer – vocais e sons
- 2016: Trips (InsideOut)
- 2018: Boundless (InsideOut)
- 2020: How Do We Want to Live? (InsideOut)
- HAZARD 2020
- VOICES 2020
- IMMUNITY 2020
- 2021: EP GHOST
Demos & split EPs
- 2006: DMNSTRTN (Limited demo album)
- 2008: 090208 (Viva Hate/Cargo Records, Split EP with Leech)
- 2014: Nighthawk (Avoid the Light Records)
Singles and music videos
- “Jungfernflug” (2008)
- “Into the Black Wide Open” (2012)
- “Tell The End” (2013)
- “Getaway” (2016)
- “Trauma” (2016)
- “Out There” (2017)
- “Ascending” (2018)
- “Hazards” (2020)
- “Voices” (2020)
- “Immunity” (2020)
Long Distance Calling – How Do we Want To Live? – Album Review
BY MANOFMUCHMETAL POSTED ON
Artist: Long Distance Calling
Album Title: How Do We Want To Live?
Label: InsideOut Music
Date of Release: 26 June 2020
Long Distance Calling are one of those bands that defy all of my self-imposed logic and reasoning. The saying goes that there’s always an exception that proves a rule but, in the case of Long Distance Calling, they are the exception that proves many, many rules.
Generally-speaking, I’m not a fan of instrumental albums, and Long Distance Calling are ostensibly an instrumental outfit. I’m not someone who places a great deal of emphasis on lyrics either, but not for the first time, the music of Long Distance Calling provides material that resonates with me and provokes thought. This might sound like a contradiction, but this band cleverly incorporate spoken-word samples into their compositions, and what’s more, I find them incredibly intriguing and engrossing. I’m also not the biggest fan of post rock/metal, but there is something about Long Distance Calling that pulls me in and holds my attention throughout.
So, to summarise, here is an instrumental post rock/metal band, with resonating subject matter, that I really, really like. Clear? No, it’s not clear to me either if I’m honest. But the reality is that ‘How Do We Want To Live?’ is easily one of my favourite albums of 2020. And I have heard a lot of albums this year.
To top it all off, ‘How Do We Want To Live?’ doesn’t even have great album art, at least not to my tastes in any case. It isn’t bad, but neither does it draw me in and make me want to have it in my collection, looking all pretty. Nevertheless, as I type, the limited edition has arrived and it looks a little better in the flesh. And after all, it’s fundamentally all about the music, not appearances.
Taking the subject matter in hand first, this album really intrigues me. There is clearly a thread that runs through the album, and that thread is a rather clever and intelligent observation of the world, of the human race, and of the future. Equally engaging and surprisingly chilling, ‘How Do We Want to Live?’ explores the relationship between the human race, the planet, and the ever-increasing reliance we seem to have on technology, either at an individual level or more of a societal level. The album is quite dark and sombre, but the quartet are keen to observe the concept from all angles rather than take a specific viewpoint, leaving it up to the listener to ultimately decide. And they manage to do this for the most part, with just spoken-word samples and their instruments.
Only, to leave it there is very unfair because it feels like I am marginalising the music itself, the soundscapes created by guitarists David Jordan and Florian Füntmann, bassist Jan Hoffman and drummer Janosch Rathmer. And nothing could be further from the truth, because the music, spread across ten individual tracks and around 52 minutes, is where these guys excel. It’s the kind of music that continually gives me spine tingles, that draws me in like a moth to a flame, and which frequently plasters a big wide grin on my face.
In keeping with much of the post-rock genre, the music isn’t overly complex either. Yes it is technical up to a point, but rather than wowing us with displays of dexterity or convoluted ideas, the power of the compositions is rooted in the tones, the textures, the layers, and the atmospheres that are created. And, without fail, each track brings something to the party, regardless of whether or not it features a spoken-word section or, in the case of one track, full-on lyrics and vocals. Soft, quiet parts crash into walls of sound, or the momentum builds steadily to create just the right dramatic effect. Ostentatious solo displays are present to a certain extent but are kept to a minimum in favour of a full-on band dynamic, where it is the whole that creates the magic.
And then there are the electronic effects, a massive element to this record. Blended into the musical narrative are swathes of electronic sounds and effects, both bold and subtle in their appearance and effect. In a way, it’s like a metaphor for the album’s concept; that melding of the organic with the man-made. And it is accomplished so stylishly, proving without doubt that a symbiosis of the two is eminently possible.
The album opens with the ‘Curiosity’ double-header. ‘Part 1’ is all about introducing the themes and ideas on the album. It is almost purely electronica; layers of synth sounds and textures that build in intensity and atmosphere. The electronic sounds are overlaid by plenty of spoken-word narration, both male and female, dominated by the phrase ‘curiosity is a real bastard’, which is uttered several times throughout. The track makes an interesting statement and leads you to wonder what’s next.
The answer is ‘Curiosity (Part 2)’ where we finally hear what I’d loosely term the more ‘conventional’ rock instrumentation. The drum beat is strong, crisp and clear. It means business as it juxtaposes the synth sounds, only eventually being joined by the bass and guitars, the latter delivering some interesting sounds of their own. But even then, despite some bold riffing and the pulsing bass, an equilibrium is sought whereby the electronic elements are given room to breathe and make their mark. It is quite an exhilarating experience, especially given the melodic sensibilities of the track on top of everything else, melodies that strike at my core every time I listen.
Things just get better with one of the very best tracks on the album, ‘Hazard’. Fuzzy bass and yet more commanding drumming introduce the song before some delicate guitar notes are overlaid. Again the electronic elements play a big role as the song builds in intensity, whilst yet more beautiful melodies come to the fore. At the midway point, the music drops away significantly to allow a female spoken-word segment discussing starkly the way I which AI may end up dominating our world. The resonance of the words is even greater as they are replaced with a soulful and gorgeous lead guitar solo over some chunky riffs.
Having said that there isn’t a weak track anywhere on the album, I still feel it necessary to shine the light on a couple more of my favourites to give you a flavour of why I so love this record.
First up, there’s ‘Fail / Opportunity’. It may only last three minutes but in that short lifespan, it makes a huge impression. The opening minute or so is an exploration of electronic sounds and textures against a introspective, rather dark backdrop. The beats are not what I’d normally enjoy but there’s a graceful ambiance to them as well as a certain understated menace. But when the organic strings enter, in the form of what I suspect is a cello and/or a violin, the symbiosis of the two is simply incredible and I’m head over heels in love with the poignancy that emerges.
The building of intensity and heaviness that occurs throughout ‘Immunity’, a song directly related to the current pandemic, is incredibly powerful. In fact, the track builds twice, each in slightly different ways but with equal success, creating an ebb and flow that is irresistible. ‘Sharing Thoughts’ opens in an incredibly sombre manner, where the tinkling of keys plays an integral part. Slide guitar notes are not usually a favourite, but the way they enter the song, alongside a groovy, almost cheeky beat is impossible to ignore. In fact, I find myself moving involuntarily to this song with alarming frequency. I also adore the way in which it gradually opens up into some sublime melodies that, perhaps for the first time, feel vaguely positive, hopeful and upbeat. The inclusion again of the strings is a wonderful addition, complimenting the ever more purposeful guitar riffs and bolder synth sounds that emerge towards the end.
‘Beyond Your Limits’ stands out for two reasons, for it benefits from some more strong melodies, particularly in the chorus and it is the only track to feature full-on vocals. The voice is provided by guest Eric A. Pulverich from Kyles Tolone, a band and vocalist I know literally nothing about. Apparently this was intentional by Long Distance Calling, but the result is great, as Pulverich’s delivery lends a more alt-rock edge to the song.
The final track is entitled ‘Ashes’. If the previous spoken-word sections were stark, the opening to this song is chilling, as it likens the human race to a virus, suggesting that we are a cancer for planet Earth. I think what makes it so chilling is the fact that it is founded in some truth. The song that follows is dark and menacing, with a dystopian tone that owes much of this to the bold, cinematic-sounding electronics that dominate this track, with only some subtle, yet beautiful guitar embellishments to act as a counterpoint.
To say I’m smitten by this record is an understatement. I didn’t think that Long Distance Calling could top ‘Trips’, but with this incredible effort, I believe that they have. It is even more remarkable when you think we’re talking about an electronica-heavy, instrumental post-rock/metal album. But as I said before, Long Distance Calling are clearly a special band that transcend genres to thrill listeners with music that’s simply deep, engaging, thought-provoking and stunningly beautiful. The album asks ‘How Do We Want To Live?’. My answer is simply ‘not without this record’.
The Score of Much Metal: 96%
After having had a chart entry in Gewith their latest studio album ‘How Do We Want to Live?’ and some live shows during late summer, Long Distance Calling started work on a jam EP entitled ‘Ghost’. And here is the good news, recordings have been finalized.
In a way ‘Ghost’ is the successor of the 2014 EP ‘Nighthawk’ and compared with the studio albums, it’s the EP’s that allow the band to work without concepts and long arrangement processes.
‘Ghost’ will be available digitally in early 2021 but comes in various physical formats too. You can find the full overview HERE and as you can see, the first vinyl version is already sold-out.
I love this band, from the first album to its last release, precise trajectory full of creativity, complex and precise arrangements of extreme virtuality and harmony.
I was perplexed and ecstatic with the performance of the live of Hamburg 2019, really a climax in presentation, lighting and sound, simply impeccable, worthy of this Great Band, I look forward to coming here in the South in Brazil, I hope you like this article, cheers to all.
Looking forward to this new work, which will certainly be another gem of this amazing Band.