We shouldn’t talk too much about the multifaceted career of one of the best and most internationally successful instrumental Rock Bands from Germany. Instead, let us review the most important facts: For almost one and a half decades, Long Distance Calling from Munster have been proving how profound and versatile their sound is, without using a lot of words nor having much in the way of singing in their songs. Their last six studio records demonstrate their compositional skill, where everything easily finds its place. With that ability they construct lively images in the heads of their listeners and get people to fall for their unconventional and unique music.
The last six albums told us a vivid, artistic and personal history, which is nowhere near over yet. In fact it seems that LDC are just beginning to really experiment with new sounds in every possible angle and are fully devoted to further progression. Their live energy and artistic dedication became apparent on their latest semi acoustic „Seats & Sounds“-Tour, where the band recorded an impressive documentation entitled Stummfilm (The Tour will be continued this fall). Besides numerous chart positions, Long Distance Calling received an outstanding honor for their work on Stummfilm. The band was nominated for “Den Deutschen Musikautorenpreis 2020”. It is a highly respected award, not decided by sales, but only by artistic effort. With both Stummfilm and their tour, the quartet finished a chapter and brought an artistic era to an end – paving the way for something new.
The seventh studio album from Long Distance Calling is entitled „How Do We Want To Live? “. The album contains ten new songs, which all contain classic LDC-Trademarks. Therefore, the new record describes the importance of their own artistic self-image and simultaneously brings something completely fresh and unexpected to the table. The band has been ambitious in the way they experiment with new electronic sounds and how they embrace those elements in their music. Naturally, they create an atmosphere and a vibrant environment in which they craft completely new sounds- effortlessly fitting into the way the band works. A perfect symbiosis between human and machine, artistic intelligence and the basic human values and lastly technical progress and the regression of personal freedom.
“The electronic sound adjusts beautifully to the conventional superstructure”, states drummer Janosch Rathmer. “At the same time it is an electronic sound, we control and program ourselves. We are aiming that the sound appears as homogeneous as our own instruments. We still want a human signature and therefore it is important to us that the sound is not too mechanic and totally disconnected to an organic sound. Especially nowadays studios use one-dimensional plug-ins, where the music loses its origin. Therefore we worked on something that still reflects us in a special and unique way.” Those who have known Long Distance Calling for a longer period of time won’t be surprised about the bands approach. Also not surprising is the comment of one of the of the band members fathers, who compared their new music to a modern version of Pink Floyd.
“The idea for a conceptual superstructure arose last autumn, which was still early in our working process. In the following month we passionately worked on the songwriting and debated conception and content. Never before had we thought of a topic for an album that much” explains Jan Hoffmann. He adds: “The more you read about it, the more additional layers it gets.”
It is safe to say that Long Distance Calling’s „How Do We Want to Live?“ is a thoughtful and thematic record, which describes the current situation. “All songs were already done, before we could see the current developments”, says drummer Janosch. “Surely the overall melancholy we always provide fits genuinely to this period.” Bass Player Jan comments on that: „ Due to the Lock-Downs the entire life calms down, which provides a special atmosphere in itself .As a band where atmosphere is an integral part of our art we wanted to explore the forces of that. But we are not using a dark, apocalyptic approach, we focus more on a hopeful confident way that inspires people. Hopefully, we created something that brings people joy in those extreme times.”
In that context we ask the band this one single question: How do you want to live? Jan summarizes the thoughts of the band behind the concept of the album: “At the moment we are in a situation, where we can’t say if a technical development strengthens utopia or dystopia. It gets evident that everything is developing exponentially. The contact with technology is getting harder every day. Everyone, even we as a band, want to explore the future, but we should start to take a closer look at how we leave digital footprints and how we give up on our personal rights. Sometimes I am missing the sense of it all. Do we have to commit to every technical innovation, only because it is possible now? And will someone force me to use new technology that will define my life. Nowadays more and more cultural manners tumble, which I thought of before as non-negotiable – like how you treat someone you talk to. Just a few years of hate in different online forums changed the way discussions are held. That leads to a loss of objectiveness and makes discussions nearly impossible. Besides, conspiracy theories are getting more popular every day. In times of the Pandemic that phenomena goes around faster than ever and less people are interested in where opinions come from and who placed them and why they did it. Even if you are very interested in world politics, nobody really knows, to what extent we got influenced by others and got politically manipulated.”
It’s not about criticizing the future or rejecting technological development. The band examines the presence of postmodernism and breathless progression of the digital age from all sides. “There are for sure also developments that make life easier and safer” says Janosch. “Alone the positive influences, that global networks have on medical progress and contribute actively on saving lifes: That’s bloody awesome!”
The album still visits some of the traditions that were demonstrated on the first four albums: that with one particular song vocals are added anyway. On “How Do We Want To Live?” it’s the track “Beyond Your Limits”. The lyrics pick up and deepen the subject of the album in a poetical manner. They are sung by Eric A. Pulverich of the band Kyles Tolone, “we got to know him over our producer Arne Neurand” says Jan. “We were instantly fascinated by his voice and we wanted to show the quality of his voice and melodies instead of doing some name dropping.” In addition to the renowned Arne Neurand, who produced the album in Horus Sound Studio in Hanover, is a brilliant team of experts that make the album a total work of art. This includes French Mastering-Specialist Jean-Pierre Chalbos and Max Löffler, who is responsible for the futuristic-artistic artwork and the whole design of the album.
So what is this Album? With “How Do We Want To Live?” Long Distance Calling forged a sharply contoured, artistically tight manifesto about the actual state of digital progress, in which basic values like ethics, individual freedom and general humanism get more diffuse and abstract. At the same time this album is a call to the listener to read between the lines and look for subtexts and connections. It is compressed to an unintentional self-fulfilling prophecy as a result of a collective feeling, that in this world some things are going wrong. A world in which soon, every technological development demands a personal limitation, which are even assumed. Self-determination and the freedom of individuals are given up for the next sensation on social media.
Janosch: ”If you only take a look at the countries, in which the spreading of the Corona-pandemic is relatively under control: these are exactly the countries that are observing their people rigorously day and night, through movement apps or GPS scanner. For sure, with methods like this it’s easier to retrace, when and who had contact with an infected person and to take the appropriate action. But on the other side it demands the willingness of each person to make themselves transparent. If you would have told someone of the Stasi, what is today’s standard, that nearly everyone voluntarily has cameras and microphones in their apartments, that record uninterrupted peoples entire lives, they would die of laughter. The thing about this is, that you basically would have to question critically every action you take online in social media. But of course no one does this. And it’s desired to be like this.” And that is finally the reason why Long Distance Calling dedicate a whole album to the subject of artificial intelligence. “We would be very happy, if the new album is not only an interesting listening experience, but hopefully provokes thoughts, that will be a part of talks and discussions that take place completely offline, in real life, face to face. It’s important that we bring to our minds how our life works in real social structures and how they should be shaped.”