Welcome to instalment number twenty of my 2020 ‘Album of the Year Top 30 countdown’. Exactly two-thirds of the way through now, and today is the last pick that falls outside my top 10. I know I say it every year, but it is so tough to put all these great records in some kind of order. All I can do is be honest and make my judgements accordingly.
Thank you to those of you who have stuck with me since the beginning, and welcome to those of you who are new to my annual waffle-fest – I hope you enjoy the ride!
As always, forgive me as I want to give my normal reminder to anyone new to this series, to check out the links at the bottom of the post to find out who made the cut, from 30 down to 12, as well as my lists from previous years too.
Long Distance Calling
How Do We Want To Live?
Score Of Much Metal: 96%
You’ve got to love it when bands force you to re-evaluate long-held prejudices, because that’s when exciting things can happen. Quite unexpectedly, I fell in love with the music of Long Distance Calling some years ago when I was sent the promo for ‘Trips’. It’s an album that came out of nowhere and forced me to reconsider my general malaise towards instrumental music.
Fast forward a few years and ‘How Do We Want To Live?’ has only served to enhance my admiration and, dare I say it, my love for Long Distance Calling. I find their brand of music to be deep, interesting, and also magnetic. It’s like they are able to pull me in like a moth to a flame. I love the way that they incorporate spoken-word passages, soundbites, and occasionally full-on lyrics into their output. But more than that, I love the way that they make me think. A word here, a line there; the relative simplicity of some ideas, the complexity of others – it’s intriguing and something that never bores me.
Add to this the compositions themselves, and ‘How Do We Want To Live?’ is a real winner. The music is intoxicating thanks to the atmospheres, the richness of the sounds, and the powerful melodies, not to mention the experimentation with different tones, textures, and sounds. It all comes together to create a glorious final product, one that I find it difficult to pull away from. Invariably, the more I listen, the more hooked I become, even after several months in its company. And it’s from literally the first note, as that’s enough to bring me under its spell once again, demanding I listen to the entire album from start to finish every time.
It may just miss out on a spot in my top 10, but it’s by the merest of small margins. This is a fantastic record and if you haven’t already, you need to check it out asap.
What I wrote at the time:
“Generally-speaking, I’m not a fan of instrumental albums, and Long Distance Calling are ostensibly an instrumental outfit. I’m not someone who places a great deal of emphasis on lyrics either, but not for the first time, the music of Long Distance Calling provides material that resonates with me and provokes thought. This might sound like a contradiction, but this band cleverly incorporate spoken-word samples into their compositions, and what’s more, I find them incredibly intriguing and engrossing. I’m also not the biggest fan of post rock/metal, but there is something about Long Distance Calling that pulls me in and holds my attention throughout.
So, to summarise, here is an instrumental post rock/metal band, with resonating subject matter, that I really, really like. Clear? No, it’s not clear to me either if I’m honest. But the reality is that ‘How Do We Want To Live?’ is easily one of my favourite albums of 2020.
…without fail, each track brings something to the party, regardless of whether or not it features a spoken-word section or, in the case of one track, full-on lyrics and vocals. Soft, quiet parts crash into walls of sound, or the momentum builds steadily to create just the right dramatic effect. Ostentatious solo displays are present to a certain extent but are kept to a minimum in favour of a full-on band dynamic, where it is the whole that creates the magic.
…Long Distance Calling are clearly a special band that transcend genres to thrill listeners with music that’s simply deep, engaging, thought-provoking and stunningly beautiful. The album asks ‘How Do We Want To Live?’. My answer is simply ‘not without this record’.”
Read the full review here.
The list this year so far…
If you’ve missed my lists from previous years, you can check them out here: