Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Long Distance Calling - Satellite Bay

Artist: Long Distance Calling
Album: Satellite Bay
Label: Viva Hate
Year: 2007

01. Jungfernflug
02. Fire in the mountain
03. Aurora
04. Horizon
05. The very last day
06. Built without hands
07. Swallow the water


Nearly a year after releasing their first demo, the German post-rock ensemble Long Distance Calling has returned to the scene with a fiery debut that more than exceeds expectations. Experimental as well as accessible, Satellite Bay shows the band taking a more sophisticated approach to their songwriting, elaborating upon their unique blend of progressive rock, ambient instrumentals and hard-edged metal. The album features five brand new songs plus two completely redone tracks from last year’s demo, providing a near-60-minute epic journey through some of the best modern instrumental rock music this year has seen.

Having progressed beyond the somewhat undeveloped and inconsistent nature of their demo material, Satellite Bay shows the band delivering their sounds in a way that is as cohesive as it is diverse. This time around, Long Distance Calling seem to have successfully combined their various influences into one solid identity, seamlessly blending layered instrumental movements with their own special dash of edgy rock-based riffs. Typical “post-rock” techniques are quite dominant but delivered with skillful precision—interwoven guitar melodies, bold percussion and soft-to-loud transitions are all implemented in familiar but engaging ways. The real key to this album’s success though comes from tracks such as “Horizon,” which definitely stick out a bit from the rest with a groovier attitude and up-beat pace, giving the album just enough variation to keep things interesting without throwing off the flow.

In sum, what we can see on Satellite Bay is a band that has harnessed its artistic vision and found the perfect balance between experimentation and discipline, making for an exciting and engaging listen from start to finish. That said, one could also say that a lot of the stuff on this release has been done many times before, and perhaps for some of the genre's enthusiasts that might be enough to make this album less than amazing. Nevertheless, an album doesn't necessarily have to be completely ground-breaking to be good—it is the sheer quality and integrity of their music which makes Long Distance Calling so entertaining.

Those seeking a wholesome serving of some of the newest instrumental rock to hit the scene should definitely check out this release. Fans of groups such as ISIS, Tides, and Caspian will likely find Satellite Bay to be a refreshing and enjoyable addition to their rotation. -Sean Butze

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