Post rock somnambulists Long Distance Calling have a long-standing reputation for their soaring, majestic wall of sound. Since their inception in 2006, the German trailblazers have left a characteristic mark upon a genre known for its cascadian qualities and dreamlike atmospheres – all that, mind you, while being predominantly instrumental. Indeed this is one of their strongest qualities: They carry a distinct narrative in their wordless world of sound that is decidedly more thought-provoking than a lot of their vocal contemporaries are.
For 13 years now, the Münster-based four-piece is famed and cherished for its weightless yet massive music, yielding six full-length records and countless absorbing live shows. After having returned to their instrumental roots with their highly successful, liberating album “Boundless” (2018), followed by an equally successful run of live dates, Long Distance Calling sat down to carefully ponder their next step. When they got up again, they were ready for their most extraordinary and unique live undertaking yet: Aptly entitled “Seats & Sounds”, this string of concerts saw Long Distance Calling take to the stage in very special locations in front on a seated (and helplessly spellbound) audience – and is now being made available in various formats.
Regarded to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, the band took the matter almost religiously and went to great lengths in pulling off their most daring effort. “We wanted to go one step further, highlighting the audio-visual quality of the band for the very first time”, the band states, referring to the phalanx of video screens and specially curated visuals corresponding to each song. The aura of the sold out locations – the likes of old theatres or churches – did the rest to enthral band and audience alike. “On these evenings, our music was supposed to be the soundtrack of every guests’ individual film.”
One of those rare and sold-out performances (and maybe the most extraordinary of them all), the one at the Kulturkirche Altona in Hamburg, has been staggeringly captured on film and tape and is now being released as “Stummfilm – Live From Hamburg / A Seats & Sounds Show” on Bluray disc, vinyl, CD and digital download. More an elegant silent film than an ordinary live video, Long Distance Calling rise to the occasion like the proverbial phoenix from their own ashes, delivering a stunning, theatrical performance in two acts: A “normal” Long Distance Calling set with songs from all their albums, and a special “Avoid the Light” set, performing the dramatic album almost in its entirety to commemorate the tenth anniversary of their seminal second record. “This is one of the most important releases of our entire career”, the band continues, “and playing it felt like time travel.”
Meticulously prepared and rehearsed, this is Long Distance Calling on another level. Backed by guest musicians Luca Gilles on cello and Aaron Schrade on percussion and electronic beats, the experimental rock veterans show their grandeur in cinemascope –elaborately filmed and monumentally staged. “A very dense atmosphere was essential”, they say, “and we think we accomplished this by keeping out the heavy and aggressive songs, thus reflecting the serene aura in this church.” In the end, Janosch Rathmer (drums), Jan Hoffmann (bass), Florian Füntmann (guitar) and David Jordan (guitar) not only played their biggest Hamburg headlining show; they also peaked their stellar career, at the same time sowing the ground for future endeavour.s Or, as Long Distance Calling say, “a unique experience and most certainly the start of a new chapter.”