From my Riding Playlist: A full album review of Avoid The Light by Long Distance Calling

Being an indoor cycling instructor, I’m also a DJ of sorts. I put music to my workout profiles and more often than not, the songs I choose are nothing anyone in my class had ever heard. I also write an occasional Friday Favorites for the Indoor Cycling Association where I offer a favorite song of mine for use in indoor cycling class.

In my class, you will rarely hear Top 40, pop, rap, hip-hop, dance or house music.  I can’t say never, because sometimes, like with Pharrell Williams’ Happy, if it gets my foot tapping, I’ll smoosh it in somewhere. I use music that elicits an emotional response. Often dark, moody, angry rock music that makes you want to attack, or long (like 12+ minutes) instrumentals that hold you captive with their haunting melodies.

Recently, my Pandora introduced me to Long Distance Calling, a ‘post-rock‘ band out of Germany. The first song I heard was The Nearing Grave and I was bowled over. Spotify allowed me to hear the entire album, Avoid the Light released in 2010, and iTunes took my money to purchase it. If I like something that much, I’ll put my money where my mouth is, people. While there are only six songs on the album, at 59 minutes, it’s beefier than some, ahem, pop tartlet’s most recent album.

I happily plunked down my $9.99 and while on the rollers the other day, I listened to the entire thing without a break (my longest continuous roller session to date). Every song made me want to keep riding.

*In future installments of From my Riding Playlist, I probably won’t go on about an entire album – this one is just that special.*

Apparitions, the first song on the album, opens gently, drawing me in and got my pedals turning. At 12:16, this is the longest song on the list, but each section of the song is different. Once the guitars join the drums around the two-minute mark, I was hooked.  A mere 45 seconds later, the flavor of the song comes out and I was clicking gears, just in time for a long climb. At around 7:30, the pace changes and we’re back to the driving beat to quicken the feet again, sailing through to the end of the song.

Black Paper PlanesI am in love with this songThe guttural guitars right at the beginning, the incredible drumming from Janosch Rathmer joining with David Jordan and Florian Funtmann on guitars and Jan Hoffmann on bass, kicks ass. The ultimate climbing song if there ever was one, in my opinion. There are steady sections where I concentrated on holding onto my 75-80rpm at FTP, then followed along and attacked out of the saddle with the ‘chorus.’

359° is a steady rocker of a song, perfect for an endurance ride like I was doing at the time. While I’m not in love with it like I am Black Paper Planes, it gets my foot tapping.

I know you Stanley Milgram! is a strange one. As the second longest track, 10:26, it starts off annoyingly airy but damn, does it change its mood after about the two-minute mark. Kaboom! and we’re back to the diaphragm-vibrating drums (if you have it loud enough) with a climb thrown in there for good measure.

The Nearing Grave is the only song on the album with lyrics. Jonas Renkse of the Swedish band Katatonia, sings and also wrote the words. Jonas’ murmuring melody joins with the fast pace to create something truly memorable – the perfect introduction for me.

Sundown Highway was the steady draw of energy from my legs.  At a slower rpm with higher resistance, going to a climb was easy. Sticking with its 9:10 length was the hard part. In one word: Perfection.

If you enjoyed this review, follow my blog for future installments of From My Riding Playlist, and thanks for visiting!


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