The main subject in the paintings of 19th century German painter Casper David Friedrich is nature. If the paintings feature people, they are portrayed with their backs towards the viewer. The people appear to be contemplating nature, its vastness, its force, the decay of man-made structures, the fact that nature will prevail long after mankind is gone.
The same principle is employed in the outstanding video to Out There by Long Distance Calling, the first track on the band’s new album Boundless. Like all other tracks on the album, Out There is a prolonged instrumental. The video shows the band hiking through a breathtaking mountain landscape. Most of the time they have their backs turned towards the camera. We see them walking through a forest, up a mountain, or down a narrow path. In some instances the landscape has been colored by the video artists, thus letting the pictures appear even more like paintings. Only in two or three occasions do we really see the band members’ faces. The real stars of the video are nature and the music.
It is not often, among people in general and artists in particular, that you come along someone who is ready to admit to their own insignificance, or to sacrifice their egos for the greater good, the greater good in this instance being the music and the message you want to transmit to your audience. Long Distance Calling appear to have managed just that.
While the band has experimented with vocals on earlier albums, this album is purely instrumental. Good lyrics and thus vocals do make music memorable, but they are not really missing here. In this case they might even be superfluous and disruptive. After all, vocals always stick out.
The album’s sound ranges from metal to spherical, back and forth, often in one song. In the track Like A River you can even hear a hint of Western music.
The track titles evoke pictures of flying, or tell the story of a flight or a hike when read one after the other (Out There, Ascending, In The Clouds, Like A River, The Far Side, On the Verge, Weightless, Skydivers). Every track keeps what its title promises. Ascending features dominant and fast guitars from the very beginning, then a switch to a calmer tempo and more spherical sounds. This makes perfect sense, because in order to ascend, to fight gravity, you need an energy boost. Likewise, In The Clouds starts with spherical tones reminding me of the feathery clouds high up in the sky, then the sound expands, like high-energy thunderclouds.
My personal favourite is the last track, Skydivers. In the beginning you hear an eerie sound, representing the fear you might feel before a jump. It is accompanied by something like a heart beat, getting louder and faster, then follows a wall of sound – the jump. After that you have the free-falling. Later on the music gradually accelerates, gets faster and faster, until it reaches a sound any speed or thrash metal band would be proud of. What an adrenaline rush!
To summarize: Boundless by Long Distance Calling is a mature album, featuring sophisticated music, made by grown people in harmony with themselves and each other. I like that a lot.