God, I’m such a sucker for hopefully named post-rock tracks. The genre, with its over the top crescendos and stark contrast, already makes me introspective and filled with wonder so the track names are like the cherry on top, a final twist of the emotional knife. It also helps when the music itself is brilliant, as is the case here. ISLES, based in California’s Bay Area, have been around for a while now but have yet to garner widespread attention in the post-rock genre. Perhaps now, with the resurgence of amazing music being made in the post-rock spaces that are mostly centered in the US, they can get the attention they deserve. Their groove filled sound certainly draws from the same wellsprings as band like Man Mountain, This Patch of Sky or set and setting do.
Their upcoming album Remnants, releasing on the 21st of August, is a marvelously put together ode to the classic elements which make post-rock so good. However, in their cleverness, ISLES have shied away from monstrously drawn out and excessively bloated tracks. While some tracks on the album climb nearer the 10 minute mark, they still have a compactness and and almost frugal approach to classic post rock. “A Light Past the Clouds” is a perfect example of this approach. In spite of being the shortest track on the album it also manages to pack a lot by not wasting any time. Following a short intro clocking in at less than 20 seconds, the track explodes into the main instrumentation which will be this track’s leitmotif.
The bass is prominent, backed up by dynamic drums and an approach to guitars which keeps the notes skipping forward instead of delaying on overwrought version of the same ambient riffs. The atmosphere is more in focus nearer the middle of the track but the fast pace of the composition never quite goes away. That’s why the outro is more than just a crescendo; the track never fell enough to allow a build up and then release. Rather, it’s a return to the intro, amplified by the journey we’ve made. This clever abjuration of the classic post-rock structure while keeping much of the tones and other trademarks of the genre is what makes this track and, indeed, the album. It’s an energetic exploration of all that we think makes post-rock still work in this day age, namely momentum and verve.
Don’t forget to head on to the link above and pre-order the album. The band also have a cool range of merch (including a bitching SEGA font style shirt) which you might like to peruse. Support underground acts!