Oregon quintet Long Hallways calls itself “an eclectic post-rock band,” and we agree. The band incorporates not only other genres, but other instruments on their third album, inviting guest musicians on violin and sax ~ this in addition to the pre-existing cello, trumpet and maracas. The album starts with “pure” post-rock before expanding its boundaries, and the enjoyment of the listener will depend on the amount to which one is willing to follow the band from their launch pad.
So let’s start with that first track, “The Only Way Out Is Through,” punctuated by trumpet and dripping with strings. The beginning is languid and lovely; then an uptempo switch brings the song to the next level, along with heightened melodies and a mariachi tone. In the last 45 seconds the song recedes from waves to ripples. This is a great declarative statement. For many years there seemed to be a code to post-rock albums, where the best tracks were either the first, the last or the longest. This one follows the code.
So now what? The album begins to slip in a bit more prog, as one might guess from the cover (this cover being a little less prog than the last one, which went overboard). There’s a lot going on in that melange, and we think the crystals are a bit much, although the abundance of images does reflect the abundance of influences. Hints of Kansas surface in the second track, found in the use of violin and the multiple tonal changes, while a riff in the third brings up Supertramp. The 70s stretch a long hand into the new century. And then the band shifts again, offering some free jazz and funk on “Under a Dark Planet,” one of the two tracks to contain guest sax. The pianist runs hands up and down the keyboard. We’ve left the post-rock planet behind, and are traveling to distant worlds. But this all makes sense, given the title: close your eyes to travel.
Late in “On Other Shores,” a saxophone passage honors the early experimental work of Chicago (who some people pigeonhole on the basis of their singles), associations cemented by the opening of “The Tightrope,” as it is nearly identical to that of “Colour My World.” But swapping out the sax for violin brings the album back into the post-rock orbit, and to misquote Darth Vader, “the keys are strong with this one.” So it’s no surprise that the closer is the closest thing to post-rock since the opener. And it’s then we realize the brilliant thing the band has done. They’ve started in a familiar place, then traveled far, then traveled farther, then re-entered orbit and returned home. It’s a beautiful arc. To follow, one need only close one’s eyes. (Richard Allen)