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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Long Distance Calling

Satellite Bay

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve seen these guys reviewed as a heavy metal band. As such I’ve seen them get some moderate to mediocre reviews. For my money, I’d say these guys aren’t really metal at all – and that could be why the reviews are so lackluster. Truly the music Long Distance Calling creates is not far from the soundscapes of Djam Karet. It’s sort of equal parts slow moving space rock, heavy (but not always crunchy) guitar driven instrumental music and jam band sounds. For the most part this is instrumental, but there are a couple songs that have some spoken vocals. This music is the kind of thing that moves and grows organically. It’s not the kind of thing that’s easy to describe on a track by track basis, so please keep that in mind when reading that part of the analysis. The truth is, though, if you like music by bands like Djam Karet, you’ll enjoy this, too.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Jungfernflug
They bring this up gradually and it works through a series of changes and alterations. At times it fits more into a textural sort of category and then at other points it’s sheer metal. The changes are nearly constant, but they are also very organic and natural. There is nothing forced here. At a little over ten and a half minutes in length this is the longest track on show here.

Fire In the Mountain
Percussion brings us in and the group launch into a pretty and dark musical motif from there. They carry forward by constructing and deconstructing this music. A spoken word sound bite comes over the top as they carry it forward. It turns decidedly crunchy around the four minute mark. The pattern of bringing it into the harder edged realm and dropping it back down carries this one through.

Aurora
They start off a lot mellower and more in the mode of Porcupine Tree or others like that. It’s not until around four minutes in that we get any real metal sounds. We also get some vocals – spoken, somewhat processed and way back in the mix – on the mid-section of this cut. They make the familiar changes up and down in terms of volume and power.
Horizon
A lot of this piece has a more high pitched element than some of the other music here. There isn’t a huge change in terms of the general motif, but we do get some sections that even feel a little symphonic.
The Very Last Day
Dark and very atmospheric tones, calling to mind the primordial Earth, lead this off. Percussion joins and it becomes a bit more energized, but still that same image sits in my head. As waves of sound begin to build we get a sound bite that’s a narration.  The narration (what parts you can make out because a lot is far down in the mix) tells about how the world ended from global warming. There are definitely a lot more melodic moments here than in some of the other music.
Built Without Hands
In a change up they start this one off in more metallic modes and then drop it back. This has vocals, too – spoken ones that are higher in the mix than the ones in “Aurora.” I’d like to add a parental advisory warning on those vocals as they start with the “f bomb.” This has a really dark and dramatic sound at times. As it carries on this has some of the most fully metallic moments of the disc (a bit like Tool) but also some of the most melodic ballad-like music.
Shallow the Water
They start this off with ambient, textural motifs, but it takes on a much more percussive nature than a lot of the music here. This is also more pure progressive rock than much of the other music on show. That said, there is still some metallic guitar soloing on this cut.
 
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