Genre expansion can be equal parts beneficial and detrimental. While there’s a case to be made for the ever-increasing exposure bands like Caspian or Moving Mountains deservedly garner, on the other side of the coin is the risk of over-saturation.
You could argue that even the highest calibre of post-rock artists, such as Sigur Ros, Mogwai, and Explosions In The Sky, have peaked creatively.
The more modern caste are left with little wiggle room when it comes to contributing fresh and innovative ideas. You also have to consider the large number of acts who cherry pick elements of the genre to add layers to their sound. From Loathe all the way up to Bring Me The Horizon, everyone and their mothers loves a dash of post-rock.
On paper, the seventh album from Long Distance Calling is nothing to wake the kids over. The Germanic genre stalwarts have been in the game for quite a while, and have more than earned their stripes. What is it then that’s so special about ‘How Do We Want To Live?’?
Trading out grandiose ten minutes epics that swell and swell into bombastic crescendo, this material is distinctly focused on the journey and not the destination. There’s an admirable sense of breadth and scale to the pieces, constantly fluctuating and meandering into complex yet welcoming territory.
The hallmarks of post-rock are all here. The slow burn build ups, the reverb soaked delay, and the anticipated ethereal soundscapes coalesce in their expected manner. It’s the composition, however, that is ultimately stark and revitalised. Bearing far more similarities to the Akira soundtrack than, say, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, there’s an electronic, elevated sense of theatricality that imbues the pieces with profound depth and emotional heft.
Clocking in at a healthy fifty-two minutes, there’s notable restraint applied throughout, with little in the way of self-indulgent posturing to slow proceedings to a crawl. While the heavy-handed spoken word segments come off as rather clunky, thankfully, they’re few and far between. They don’t derail the album by any means, but ultimately fail to add that extra layer of density and importance to the work that they seem so desperate to achieve.
While not the genre-defining masterpiece some may perceive it to be, there’s little doubt that ‘How Do We Want To Live?’ is one of the most dynamic and enthralling projects to come out of the genre for quite some time. Take note.