Instrumental rock is a strange beast in this day and age. We're sorta programmed to believe that songs are about lyrics and the music is simply there to shape and support the words. Instrumental only compositions tend to stay in the realm of dance music, but the truth is that instrumental bands stretch all the way back to the dawn of rock and roll.
Point of fact, through the 50s and early 60s instrumental rock stood strong on the charts. The Fireballs, The Shadows, Johnny and the Hurricanes. Surf Rock emerged with the likes of Dick Dale. The Surfaris. Link Wray. The Ventures. The genre became more about virtuosity in the 80s, with artists like Malmsteen. Steve Vai. Joe Satriani. But in the 90s, a movement to strip away the excess and ego of the form turned instead to focus on its ability to convey raw emotion. Moving into the new millennium, bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Ozric Tentacles, Mogwai, God is an Astronaut, Sigur Ros, and many others formed the basis for an atmospheric, nearly hymnal style of new instrumental, expressionist and soul stirring. And while a band like Long Division wouldn't exist without that foundation, their work carries these sounds into a new era.
The history of the band is a bit complicated. Founding members:
- CJ Weil on bass, with an occasional horn. Has at times has worked with The Long Virginia Summers, including a recording credit on I Can Dream All Day in 2015.
- Doug Nicholson on guitar.
- Andrew Lane, also on guitar. I hear he mostly works as a videographer these days.
- Wesley Bunch, also on guitar.
Long story short: Long Division is essentially the front face of a complex ecosystem of bands spanning from the nineties into the early aughts and teens. Elliott Malvas, who as an early drummer succeeded a band member lost to history, playing their debut show and a few other gigs before Joel Parker came in, breaks some of it down:
"I left Long Division because being in that band showed me i could in fact pursue my own music live. Also I’m not technically skilled enough for instrumental music. There are certain drummers out there for that job. Joel definitely propelled them to the next level. I was almost holding them back.. Wesley Bunch left to basically do the same with Suburban Living, but Long Division had a lot of success during that time -- he and Doug essentially started LD so Wes’s heart was torn there for a bit. A classic friends forming a band scenario where everyone contributes. As for the Swirlies, I got Wes to fill in with them in 2018, but it’s a one and done deal. I’ve steadily toured in Swirlies since 2013 on bass, guitars and keys (not drums as some may miss interpret)."
The group released a debut record in 2010, titled "Calm Before." Lane stepped off. And Bunch left for Philadelphia. Chayce Culver (who I believe I spotted in the audience last night, but face-blindness precludes me from certainty) eventually joined for awhile. Culver went on to record a solo album, "Belles and Rifles" in 2015, that I like quite a bit. Not sure if he's with another band now or even still playing solo. John Fatigate -- who I **think** has two solo EPs of his own out there and is also a member of Trust Falls, joined after the departure of Culver.
. . .
All of the supporting bands murdered last night, Demons is a band that more than any other locally deserves to break through. True Body shows a darker transformation, think Joy Division listening to a bunch of Lou Reed and coming out the other side sounding more like Bauhaus, but heavier. They've become a more dangerous, sinister band during their Richmond sojourn. This set had them tapping From Overseas' Kevin Sery, who then contributed a single song of his own to the evening after having earlier played a mini-set in between Sibyl and Bantustans, who of course brought their usual excellence. I hadn't seen Sibyl before, from out of RVA, but they were great too. You're Jovian stepped out as a trio without losing any of the rich, complex sound they're known for. More people should listen to this group. All in all, it was a night of exceptional music.
-- end transmission --
Norfolk. Post-Hardcore / Punk.
Norfolk. Instrumental Post-Progressive.
Richmond. Hard Rock.