Long Hallways’ music has the structural hallmarks of post-rock: instrumental songs, five to eight minutes long, each containing a few twists and turns along the way. Threaded throughout is the shimmering electric guitar work of Daniel Staton, who leads the Portland quintet into glorious crescendos and satisfying comedowns.
In this way, Long Hallways recalls post-rock’s standard-bearer, Explosions in the Sky. But where that band regularly rides its jams into outer space, Long Hallways is more comfortable planting their flag atop terrestrial peaks. On their new album Close Your Eyes to Travel, the band spices up its post-rock with excursions into jazz, math rock, and more. The result is an earthier, more motley take on the genre.
The evidence pops up all over these seven songs. The slow, simmering build of opening track “The Only Way Out Is Through” is softened by Myles Eberlein’s mournful trumpet and a beautiful violin part. “On Other Shores” pieces together a jaunty rhythm, humid horn lines, vintage-cool keyboard bleat, and the gentle shake of maracas. “After the Fall” begins with prickly guitars dancing over a rumbling rhythm section before pulling back into a dusky swirl of stringed instruments and rhythmic shifts. And “Under a Dark Planet” finds Long Hallways at their most experimental, where skronky jazz, video game music, and Tool bass lines collide.
There is one song here (“Swimming Uphill”) that follows a more typical post-rock blueprint, and it’s a great one. But within the context of Close Your Eyes to Travel, its more important role is to provide a framework for Long Hallways’ unconventional proclivities. This is a band with both the vision and the chops to push post-rock in interesting directions.