Review Summary: Equal parts prog- and post-rock amidst a German psychadelic framework.
Post-rock is difficult; the sub-genre is amorphous and loosely defined at best. For the sake of simplification, take a spectrum with the "Gods" at either end; that is, put God Is An Astronaut on one side and Godspeed You! Black Emperor on the other. You'll find Long Distance Calling right in the middle, with an explosive rhythm section typical of the former and lengthy crescendos courtesy of the latter. But this is only a generality. Avoid the Light
is a lot more complex than at face value, not only taking cues from art- and post-rock contemporaries, but also psychadelic and progressive German-rock forebears.
"Apparitions" would have you think twice about the namesake with deceptively typical melodic picking - but stay tuned, it's well worth it. The opener culminates beautifully into some of the most technical drum-work and reverb-laced sound-walls this side of Enter
and El Cielo
, respectively. Russian Circles and, no surprises here, ex tour-mates Dredg are obvious influences on this long distance amalgam. But it's still difficult to firmly categorize the sound here; just when they make a convincing display of post-rock songwriting aptitude, they turn off the burners and throw it in the oven: "Black Paper Planes" and "359" are proggy, rock-and-roll anthems, while "I Know You, Stanley Milgram!" double-kicks whatever it was to pieces and puts it back together as delicately (and effectively) as any bonding agent could.
These one-dimensional offerings, and the surprisingly out of place guest performance by Katatonia's Jonas Renske (read: this sounds like a Katatonia song) are only an opening course in preparation for the main event. "Sundown Highway" assembles these dimensions together to form a truly cohesive and earth-shattering experience, while throwing out all of the ill-begotten repetition (progressive or not), comparisons, and convention. Avoid The Light
's final cut climaxes into a thick, syncopated finale, whistles a complacent acoustic jangle, then fades into the sunset.
Long Distance Calling may not appear fresh or exciting at first listen, but give it a chance; this is some seriously unique and decidedly European post-rock. In a genre full of imitators, there's not much more one can ask for.