Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More New Music: Long Distance Calling, new OSI

Long Distance Calling - Avoid the Light (2009)

Track List and Observations:

01.Apparitions 12:18..7:30 sorta trippy/mathy/melodic rhythm..awesome build..a few mins later it fades with atmosphere
02.Black Paper Planes 7:19 ..the drums standout in the middle..the syncopation and interplay between the guitar parts..synths, and drums work really well
03.359 7:57...tight drumwork..more subtle spacey synths..5:10 it starts to pick-up again..the layers of clean guitars really work well as it builds..epic
04.I Know You, Stanley Milgram! 10:28..nice grindy rhythm..then goes kind of clean and reminds me of PT..it really builds into a heavy, spacey wall-of-sound
05.The Nearing Grave 7:50 ..Warm/TRIPPY/DREAMY kind of vocals..a bit like Minus the Bear's vox...NICE BELLS OVER DOUBLE BASS
06.Sundown Highway 9:10 ...ANOTHER ENERGETIC RHYTHM..ALMOST REMINDS ME OF dt'S lEARNING TO LIVE..love the acoustic ending.

Okay, this has impressed me a ton, only played it twice. This German-based mostly instrumental psychedelic-tinged progressive post-metal really have composed an energetic, without-filler 55min album here. I am a fan of some *Post* music..actually I'm lying, in the past couple of years I have really found a lot of music labeled as "Post" in some way, to be my thing. But really they either are:

a) NOT the traditionally thought-of Explosions in the Sky or in the case on metalic groups like Isis and Pelican (Mono and some others..most recently Irepress).

b) they are often HYBRIDS. Bands who have a prog rock or psychedelic aspect to their music, with some other quality that is found in "Post Rock"

c) they also focus on SONGWRITING or frankly, don't have length-ly passages that lose (or bore) me.

d) They use a chamber element like trumpet, violin, cello

Groups like Kacica, Oceansize, Do Make Say Think, Nomia, Mutyumu, Clann Zu, Murder By Death I'm thinking more-of.

in the "Post-Metal" vein. Long Distance Calling do belong in the same class with this album as Russian Circles and 2008's pleasant surprise, East of the Wall. And perhaps even a few others I've gotten into of late in Eroica and the Oceansize-esque Meniscus among others.

Atmosphere, muscle, punch, tight compositions, layers, and a nice melodic sense. And actually overall less being more. It's 55 minutes, but it doesn't necessarily feel that long. I put it on twice yesterday, and I couldn't help but have my attention focused on each second; not wanting (or seeming like it should) end.

Give it some more time, but it's a low 80's/4-star album. In my top 10 for 2009. Chances are it won't move-up much, but when it does get passed-up, it'll likely be due to other even better albums (as opposed to it not standing the test of time).

I probably require to checkout their 1st album now as well.

OSI - "Blood"..some thoughts.

a) "Terminal" and especially "Radiologue" are the 2 exceptional songs on this (at least the 1st cd that leaked).

b) OSI have changed and very much may be a 1-album wonder. The textures and layering they used in that wonderful debut record "Office of Strategic Influence" are not used (or incorporated) anywhere close to the same way on this new album nor "Free" overall.

c) I should take the three good songs off "Free" ("Go!", "Bigger Wave" and 1 other I'm forgetting) and burn them with those other two and perhaps the "re:Free" ep into one compilation.

d) A few samples, but pretty much they are limited.

e) My guess is Kevin Moore did a great deal of the songwriting (including the VOCAL-LINES) on both FREE and BLOOD. As opposed to Jim and him, and even Mike Portnoy doing more of it on the debut record.

f) The 1st album flows really well, and in some ways could be regarded as a *suite*. Most if not all of this new album and "Free" are just a bunch of songs really. The mood changes, and not that effectively really.

More specifically with "Blood"..I suppose it may be a little better than "Free" and I want to still hear the Bonus disc material, which includes an extended version of "Terminal" one of the two really good songs on this album. Plus it does have a track Tim Bowness of No-Man wrote and sang on for what it's worth (No-Man being Steven Wilson's maybe 3rd best project, but a big level down from even Blackfield). But "Terminal" I dig maybe mostly with the use of the Zeppelin-like Mellotron. "Radiologue" has a nice hook to it, and I guess features Jim's guitar work, the way I like it. Melodic, thick-toned but not too-in-your-face. And layered enough. I love Jim's guitar work; he 's perhaps my favorite (or like a top 5 or top 10 guitar player for me). But sadly on this album and "Free" there's a bit too few and far between.

His guitar work (writing) on the 1st album and especially the John Arch EP "A Twist of Fate" was incredible. Maybe he wanted to separate that style a little? Or maybe sadly, he hasn't had a lot of new ideas. C'mon Jim, whatcha been listening to? He should check out some of the newer, spacier guitar work of a lot of the alt-prog and mathy/post bands perhaps?..hell it was 1999, but Todd Rose of Soundscape's guitar work on "Grave New World," especially the diversity of tones he used are light years better and more infectious than much of the last two OSI albums.

So, OSI, they really have jumped-the-shark. I figured I'd give them an 1-album bump in-the-road. But sadly, I think due to Kevin's writing style and Jim's input they are a verrry different band now. And very well may be always. It's too bad. OSI could have been amazing. I can't deny, the potential to have Daniel Gildenlow sing that 27 minute piece on the 1st record I'll never forget. John Arch actually almost became their singer as well. And perhaps without Mike Portnoy involved, the direction changed a lot. And what seems like Jim's main focus musically now, all his Fates Warning ideas are out into this (as opposed to them not being put-into the 1st album?).

Sure it's fine they have Mikael Akerfeldt sing and write a song in "Stockholm" which does bring back that mellotron sound a bit. But it doesn't ultimately sound that much different than if M.A. wrote an Opeth tune with a little industrial feel to it. It sounds like something he left off "Watershed" in a way.

Akerfeldt and Steven Wilson (whose involvement with OSI actually was much better), seem to be the token prog-related players of late. Everyone kisses their asses, when to me, their recent work has become predictable as anything. I wish people would move-on and stop praising things, that are their fantasy music-formulas. And instead, evaluate what they put out FOR WHAT THEY ARE. Dream Theater..hell, even Marillion I try and do that for the most part with. If Marillion puts out a bad or less-than-par album, I am not going to kid myself or anyone else on my opinion.

No OSI are just another name in the underground music genre of prog that were cool when they 1st arrived, but haven't followed-up that 1st impression with nearly the promise they gave. The prog scene is like that. Really predictable, and cyclical. Not unlike a lot of other genres. But I know, just based on experience, there is better and more worthwhile music out there to discover; rather than kid myself into believing the similar style, even recipe-laden music that come from groups who were great in the past, have not *progressed*.

But a lot of the people who listen to OSI, will with this album, and continue-on likely with other albums, to praise their current direction. Sorry, they could have been so much greater than they are. I can't be down though, with the wonderful new album Archive and even that Long Distance Calling album I just posted above, this OSI album likely will become an afterthought. I wasn't expecting it to be great, but still hoped I'd be wrong. O well, people have different tastes for good reason I guess.

At least I will get to see Jim with Fates Warning in September at the 10th (Anniversary) ProgPower USA Festival. Even without Mark Zonder. Jim should be doing the Jim Matheos music I love I imagine.

note: I mean to write up a big TV entry soon. Mainly involving the passing of a lot of recent shows. And some thoughts about some good new ones. In due time. It's been a never-ending intake of music of late as to why, among others factors, it hasn't happened. Plus, I mean to wait until after the final show is done to put it together, which will be in a week or 2.

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