Long Distance Calling- TRIPS
FFO- Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal, Post Rock, Atmospheric
Long Distance Calling has been on my radar since I discovered the band with their 2nd album, 2009's Avoid The Light. That album really changed how I looked at music at the time and really helped me embrace what I now enjoy: emotional passages, soundtrack style movements of peaks and valleys, highs and lows, heavy and light; and above all, the idea that nothing is off limits as long as it makes sense to you, musically. With Long Distance Calling, that has always been a driving focus of the band. With the band's 5th album (and 7th release overall) TRIPS, the band continues to follow the path of making the music that is right for them and hopefully the fans will be there along for the ride. Admittedly, this is a bit of a polarizing album. This album goes into different territory from very catchy, almost Top 40 mainstream moments to very dark moments to very symphonic moments. TRIPS is very much like the name implies...a trip. A trip of the mind and soul. Strap in and let me tell you all about it!
The album starts with a bit of a rude awakening with Getaway. By rude awakening, I mean a perfect throwback to the 1980s soundtracks we all (of a certain age) know and love. The synths really drive this and make you feel like you are about to watch Blade Runner or Escape From New York. It's very rhythm based and very simple by LDC's standards, but that is what makes the song great. An elongated intro track to the album, if you will. It also really gives a great impression of what the theme of the album is all about. Next up is Reconnect. This is the first track on the album that features vocals by vocalist Petter Carlsen. The song starts off a bit more modern alternative sound with a driving synth track. the chorus brings the track a bit more on the heavy side while still maintaining it's catchiness. Overall, a great track. Rewind is one of the more emotional tracks on the album and really summarizes what the band is all about in 2016. It starts very somber with emotional vocals and piano that slowly builds up with lone guitar strikes and pulsing drums. The lyrics of the song can really bring a tear to your eye if heard at the right time (it almost has for me a few times now). The song overall has a bit of a Dredg influence in terms of the depressing but emotional and by proxy, uplifting, feel to it. A sheer highlight of the album. Trauma is the next track and it is the next instrumental. This one bring you back to the song, Long Distance Calling, from the band's Self Titled album. Different enough, of course, but a great driving instrumental track that has heavy riffs, prog flavoring and will make older fans of the band very happy. One standout part of the song is the driving bass lines of Jan Hoffmann in the middle section. It definitely brings a great driving feel to the ,otherwise, atmospheric segment of the song. Those that wanted a heavier song from LDC got it with this one. Lines is the first track (and as I'm writing this only track) that has been released so far. The song starts off feeling very Alternative Rock, especially in the vocals. From others I've heard some people say there is a Muse influence. I've heard others even say Hoobastank influence, of all things. The shining moment of the song and easily one of my favorite moments from the band, EVER, is the chorus. From the driving instrumentation to the powerful vocals, it made the song go from a cool modern rock sounding song to an absolute powerhouse. The instrumental section of the song brings back the atmosphere that songs like The Nearing Grave off Avoid The Light and even more so, Middleville off of the Self Titled album, that give great contrast to the rest of the song. The ending with the repeated chorus makes the song impossible not to headbang to. If there was ever a song from a band of this caliber to break out into Radio Rock and change Radio Rock for the better, it's this track! Presence brings things back to a more mellow vibe as an interlude. Starting with guitar, synths and ending with spoken word that leads way into the more upbeat, Absolution era of Muse, vibe with Momentum. This track is a great instrumental that really speaks without vocals (which is always a fantastic element of LDC). It's at a heartbeat tempo rate and very busy playing from everyone involved, especially drummer Janosch Rathmer. 3/4ths into the song, it brings back a heavy Avoid the Light feel that I very much enjoy. The song ends with far away synths that fade away. This of course leads to the last track with vocals, Plans. This has a very Post Rock feel to it with it's clean guitar, and electronic sounding synths and drums. The vocals gain a tremendous amount of power in the chorus. A little over half way through the song, it starts to build into a much more symphonic moment, not usually seen with the band. Gaining heaviness slowly but surely, with the synth strings helping the build, it builds up into a classic LDC riff at 5:02 and going to the end that older fans will love and appreciate. The final track, Flux, is the longest song on the album as a 12 minute plus instrumental that, once again, brings back the memories of Avoid The Light, the S/T album, even all the way back to the band's first EP, Satellite Bay. While a majority of the song stays more mellow, it constantly builds. A little under half way through the song, it builds into a fantastic heavy riff that leads into a more subdued moment once again. Again, Hoffmann shows off how to make a fantastic and groovy bass line in this moment right before the guitar kicks back into the song with a killer clean solo. The last quarter of the song brings the atmospheric moments back with a very emotional movement that almost feels like you are about to crash land in a heroic way. The final moments brings back the piano, synths, and spoken word that brings you back to reality, a sad reality of how life and the universe really works.
TRIPS is an album that centers around taking a trip through space and time. Before and after the time of Man, entering areas we have never seen before, moments we wanna go back to, moments we wish we could redo, and really thinking about how our lives work the way they do. Like anyone reading this. I know I have my share of regrets. Not spending enough time with family or friends, letting bridges burn, making choices that altered my life in different ways. This really gives you that short feeling of entering your psyche and exploring what could be if you had those opportunities to go back in time or rocket yourself ahead in time. The overall message of the album is clear. Make the most of the time you have on Earth. Never take any moment for granted and enjoy everything that you can. As you can tell, the album has definitely resonated with me in a big way and hopefully, if this reviews makes you at all interested, if will for you as well. While it's a bit premature to say for sure, I think this has potential to not only be one of the best albums of 2016, but I dare say, TRIPS may be my favorite Long Distance Calling album to date!
Long Distance Calling- TRIPS available April 29th through Inside Out Music
Adam Wakeman comes from a legendary name in the music world with his Father (Rick Wakeman) and brother (Oliver Wakeman) both being very prominent keyboardists, most notably performing with the legendary Prog band, Yes. Adam chose a different path that focused more on Heavy Metal with a resume that include playing Rhythm Guitar and Keyboards for the world's most famous Metal singer, Ozzy Osbourne AND playing Rhythm Guitar on select tracks on Black Sabbath's The End farewell tour. When Adam is not touring the world with the legendary names of Metal, he is writing music with his Progressive Metal outfit, Headspace, whose new album All That You Fear Is Gone drops February 26th through Inside Out Records. I recently got to talk to Adam about everything that is going on in his world. ENJOY!
Hi Adam. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I am an absolute huge fan of you and your whole, musical, family. It is a complete honor to be able to do this with you. February 26th brings the release of the 2nd album from Headspace, All That You Fear Is Gone. What went into the process for the new album?
Well, a lot of time! We started the writing process about 3 years ago. As we all have other commitments with other bands and artists, it’s hard to all get together at the same time, so we tend to work separately or in pairs.
What would you say are the biggest changes, musically, the band has gone through since the release of 2012's I Am Anonymous?
Musically, I think perhaps this album is more ambitious. Not intentionally, but I think the band has just matured a little perhaps.
All That You Fear Is Gone is a continuation of the story started with I Am Anonymous. Did you and the band have any idea where you wanted the story to go before you started writing, or did it come during the writing process?
Damian writes the lyrics and the lyrical concept so yes, he had a strong idea of what and where it was going to go right from the start. He changes lyrics right up until the day of final vocal recording to make sure he’s totally happy with it all. We are all the same with our musical parts. One of the best things about taking a long time to make an album, is that you have time in between to reflect on the recordings and then come back and make changes.
The new album also brings in the addition of drummer, Adam Falkner, how has his presence changed the band?
He’s a great guy and musically he brings a different playing approach to the songs. We’re all looking forward to getting out and playing some shows with him too. He’s better looking than the rest of us too, so he might bring attract some more female fans…
Did you, personally, have any changes in what you brought into the new album? Musical or otherwise?
Not really. When Pete and I write together it follows a very organic method. The songs can turn into 15 minute epics or 2 minute interludes. I used my Hammond Organ on this album which I didn’t use on the last one. I personally like the original instruments rather than the plug ins or simulated versions. It’s more focused on the performance then, because you can’t quantise or tidy things up too much.
Is there any chance of Headspace touring in the future?
yes, we play Ramblin Man festival in England on 24th July and 12th August we will be playing Cropredy, also in the UK. We are looking to put a European tour together for December, once my Sabbath commitment and the other guys are all on a break from their other shows.
2016 also brings the release of the acoustic project you did with Headspace (and Threshold frontman) Damian Wilson entitled, Weir Keeper's Tale . How did this come to be?
I wanted to do something different with Damo, and as we both write in a different style outside of Headspace for our solo projects, I thought it would be cool to do a kind of ‘unplugged’ type songwriters album together.
Considering how well you two work together in Headspace, did you both have a similar mindset going into Weir Keeper's Tale?
We approached it differently as there was just the 2 of us! Damian came to my house and we locked ourselves in a room with a piano and a few guitars and just wrote songs. We did this 3 or 4 times for a period of 2 or 3 days at a time. Damian might say “I’ve got this idea” and we’d work on that for a bit. Then I’d play a piano or guitar part and we’d work on that for a bit. Then we just developed the 8 or so best ideas and sorted the arrangements and Damo sang some melodies. He then went away, and we’d get together again once he’d written the lyrics to record them, whilst in the meantime I recorded some more instrumentation.
Considering Weir Keeper's Tale and All That You Fear Is Gone are releasing pretty near each other (January 8th and February 26th respectively) were any of the songs written at the same time? Any songs that could have made either album?
Good question, but no, they were completely separate. All That You Fear Is Gone was finished well before the Summer. We had to get it to Jen Bogren to mix by then so he could fit it in between his other mixes he was doing.
Were there any songs written in the 2015 songwriting period that did not make the cut for either release that may be used in the future?
Not for Headspace. We wrote everything for this album and there were no left overs! With Weir Keepers Tale, there were a handful of other ideas that we did develop far enough to make the album so we’ll re-visit those at some point. We’d both like to do another album like that as it was really good fun. The idea was that we could play it live anywhere there was a piano and a guitar so it gives us freedom to do a few impromptu shows if we can fit them in at short notice!
For non-prog fans, people may know you best for the great work you have done (keyboards and rhythm guitar), in studio and live, with Ozzy Osborne and Black Sabbath. What would you say you've learned the most from your experiences working with Sabbath and Ozzy (solo)?
I’ve learned so much from those guys - and continue to do so. There’s a wonderful family vibe on the road with everyone with Sabbath and Ozzy - and that runs through the crew, truck drivers and band. Everyone always looks happy to be at work, and there’s not many jobs you can say that about!
What would you say are your favorite songs that you have performed with Ozzy and Black Sabbath? Any songs that you wish you (could) have perform(ed) live?
With Ozzy, I love playing Mr Crowley (because of the intro especially) , No More Tears and Killer of Giants as there’s lots for me to play in those tracks. I always wanted to play Perry Mason - we did in rehearsals once but it never made it on the set list. It’s difficult when you have a back catalogue like Ozzy - there’s too many great songs!
With Sabbath, my favourite has to be Into the Void. I play rhythm guitar on a lot of those songs and it’s just brilliant to play. So many classic riffs in one song. Most people would have made it into 2 or 3 songs, but that is one of the great things about Sabbath, just when you think the song is over, Tony throws another killer riff in there!
Is there any chance of another Wakeman With Wakeman album with your Father, Rick?
We had spoken about it a while back as we were playing a few shows on 2 grand pianos. We play 4 shows on 2 Steinway 9 foot grand pianos at the Dean Street Jazz Club on March 11th and 12th so I’ll probably chat to him about it then. It’s always great working with my dad - it’s a shame that other touring commitments mean that it doesn't happen more often!
You are definitely keep very busy with all of the great projects that you are a part of. If you had/have the time, is there any other musical projects that you would attempt that you haven't explored before?
I’d like to concentrate more on film scoring. I have scored one full length film and 3 or 4 shorts and had a lot of music used on TV but I’d really like to get stuck into more of that. You can’t just ‘drop in and out’ of that world though, it’s all or nothing so maybe when the touring slows down a bit I’ll be able to do that. I have a production music library (www.theperfectmusiclibrary.com) where I look after my and over 50 other composer’s music for TV and film which also keeps me busy in-between flights and shows!
So what are the current plans for the rest of 2016?
Sabbath is keeping me pretty full on this year. We are currently out in the USA and Canada, then we tour Australia, Europe and back to America. That’s pretty much the full year. In the gaps, Headspace will play a couple of festivals in the summer and then we’ll tour Europe in December all being well.
With it being February 2016, have you had time to enjoy any music from 2015? Is there any albums coming out in 2016 that you are looking forward to hearing?
I really enjoyed Dave Gilmour’s last album. He’s someone I’d love to play with. I’ve always held him as one of my favourite musicians and guitarists.
Thank you once again for taking the time to do this interview. It couldn't possibly be more of an honor to be able to talk to you. Before we go, is there anything else you'd like to mention that I haven't brought up yet?
Very kind words! - Thanks to anyone that supports Headspace and please come and see us live when dates are announce and buy the album! That way we can keep making more music! Keep an eye on our/my social media and always come and say hi if you see me in a pub. I can talk for England to anyone that will listen….
Headspace- All That You Fear Is Gone will be released February 26th through Inside Out Records!
The Mute Gods- Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
FFO- Progressive Rock, Alternative Rock, Pop Rock
The Mute Gods is the brainchild of Nick Beggs (contributor to the likes of Steven Wilson, Lonely Robot, Steve Hackett and so much more) on Chapman Stick, Vocals, Guitar and Bass. Also featured on this album is Marco Minnemann on drums and Roger King doing production and playing Keys. The album is an extremely catchy brand of prog rock layered in pop and alternative rock. Imagine Steven Wilson doing Hand. Cannot. Erase. with 70's prog instead of having electronics and BOOM! Let's dive right into this amazing album.
The album starts with the title track, Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me. While having the awesome 70's prog twinge, the chorus is unbelievably catchy. There is a good reason why this was, indeed the first single from the album. Praying To A Mute God starts quite mid-tempo and keeps that similar speed much like the former track, but expands upon it. Much more diversity and fills happen throughout the song giving a little bit or room to show off on each instrument. The second half of the song is a great example of that. Nightschool for Idiots is much more mellow and piano driven. A great, almost relaxing song, until you hear the lyrics. It definitely has the Steven Wilson cynical lyrical charm to it. Feed The Troll is the second single off the album. It starts off bass driven and an electronic movement before kicking into a darker, almost King Crimson style riff. The song is one of the heavier moments on the entire album as well. Very dark and brooding, but so enjoyable. Your Dark Ideas follows next and is a bit more uptempo. It almost sounds like a track Steven Wilson penned around the time of In Absentia or Deadwing. A very killer track. In the Crosshairs is the shortest track on the album. Being that it is instrumental, it showcases every instrument in the band in a great way. A great change of pace in the album. Strange Relationship starts with a great 8 bar, almost Opeth like, swing beat provided by Minnemann. The song is quite mellow in comparison to other songs on the album and features quite a bit of keyboard changes until the song. The fading piano notes of the last track segue way into Swimming Horses. The song begins more atmospheric before kicking into a mellotron style riff mixed with guitar, then finally kicking into a dark, brooding song. It features song Middle-Eastern style riffing and very bass and chapman stick driven. The second half of the song is where things start to pick up in tempo before progressing back to the dark mood it left before. Father Daughter closes out the album and features a Porcupine Tree feel and more of the electronic faded drums that Steven Wilson is famous for in so many moments before kicking in. The album ends in a very electronic way as it dramatically stops, leaving you wanting more.
All in all, The Mute Gods have provided an absolutely phenomenal debut album. Combining all the best parts of prog rock mixed with a great nod to the likes of Steven Wilson and Steve Hackett throughout. The lyrical content is very much intended to be a way of living your life to the fullest and not giving into the world we currently live. Explore, Create and most importantly, try to make the world a better place for those that will follow us in this world. It is a great sentiment!
The Mute Gods- Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me available January 22nd via InsideOut Records