This is third Post Rock Post that has emerged from A Thousand Arms dropping their latest compilation two weeks ago and I don’t think we’re even half way through them. There are plenty of more bands I’d like so shine a more specific light on; we’ll get there. For now, we have what is perhaps the most important name in this list of newly discovered (for me) post rock and metal bands: Seeress. As if the track on the compilation, “Attractor’, which opens their latest album wasn’t enough, the text on the release itself reeled me right in. It works marvelously with the grandiose sound of the band, giving the vibe chilling context. Let’s head on over the jump for a listen, a read and then, a discussion.
Hello! A little over a week ago, I informed you that good guys A Thousand Arms are back with yet another incredible compilation. Side A of Open Language Vol. II, with which the last post was mainly concerned, focused on post rock and metal bands from the good ol’ USA. We dug deep into the release finding plenty of gems hidden without it. Now, I’m back as promised to take a close look at Side B, which collects post rock and metal bands from all over the world. This side caught me a bit unawares; it suffered from a slightly lackluster opening half. However, there are some bands almost hidden as a reward for the careful listener near the end of the volume that more than make this side a must listen as well. Let’s dig in!
What better format to study the interesting duality between morality and knowledge than a massive post rock album, filled with nuance and subtlety? This is exactly what Ravena did in 2016 when they released Laocoön, an impressive foray into the realms of cinematic post rock and post metal. We spoke about them recently on the blog when I covered the Open Language post rock compilation (second part coming soon!). I had extolled their virtues there but I felt that their music warrants a post of its own and so, here we are!
A formula for making Stone From the Sky: put your hand on the dial that says “Camel” and then slow it way down. OK, you went too far and now you’ve made Earth. Bring it back up a notch, just a little bit. Wait, whoa, you went too far and now we have Cambrian Explosion. Slow it down again just a tiny bit and there we go! Stone From the Sky are like stoner rock that’s passed out in a field of post rock poppies, intoxicating delays doing some very weird things to its perceptions of timing, tone, and delivery. Their album, aptly named Fuck the Sun, is all rolling hills and wide meadows, a sojourn in the diffused light of some other source of illumination.
The annals of post rock will look kindly on the somber parts of the genre. In the past few years, they’ve been some of the most prolific, drawing on the once-not-obvious proximity between post rock and post metal. These bands, like If These Trees Could Talk or Outrun the Sunlight, create an atmosphere that is darker in its shadings than the post rock of the mid 2000’s, relying on booming drums and thick bass to garnish their delayed guitars. Into this context burst Astralia, a Barcelona based band with three albums to their name. Their most recent effort, released just a few days ago, sees them polish their style and cohesion. On Solstice, Astralia make a worthy addition to the realm of ponderous post rock and all the intonations one might expect from that label.
We’re on the record now on multiple occasions spilling our love for the blog post-engineering, both for their posts in general and especially for the massive and free Bandcamp compilations they’ve put out. After assembling two incredible comps of fantastic post-rock and metal from around the world the past couple of…
The moniker “cinematic” post rock is constantly used today; it denotes the orchestral, drawn out and melodic grandeur of a certain type of post rock, first made famous by Explosions In the Sky and God Is An Astronaut. The ties to cinema are purely conceptual, running through the linked themes of soundtracks and their musical habits. However, what if I were to tell you of an actual cinematic post rock band, one which draws on film not only for its concepts but also as samples in their music? Enter Féroces, a French band which does just that; their debut EP, Juliette, integrates film right into the music to create an intriguing take on somber, melancholic post rock.
Adam Young is a name which might ring a few bells. His most prominent project, among many, many others, is Owl City, a by-now well known electronic/Americana ensemble. Thus, it should come as no surprise when I tell you that Young was extremely prolific in 2016. How prolific? One of his other projects, Adam Young Scores, released an album every month of the year. Yep. Now, it’s probable that a lot of this material was stockpiled over the years and then released in one year. However, does that really matter? Not really. The quality matches the quantity as well; Adam Young Scores sees Young run the full gamut of electronic music, post rock and ambient in his search to set some of the world’s most famous events/artifacts to music. Every month’s release focuses on a different event/artifact and thus changes its music to try and capture some of the atmosphere and unique “flavor” of its subject.
As time goes by, post rock is apparently being forced more and more into exploration under the sheer weight of its aesthetic. As a genre which deals with re-configuring and re-hashing rock, this is perhaps a much delayed return to the roots of the genre. We had long cried out for this form of experimantation, warning that stagnation lies in avoiding it. Thankfully, 2015 and 2016 seem to be heading on the right trend, with a host of new(ish) groups tackling the validity and relevance of post rock (Tumbleweed Dealer, Farfetch’d, VASA, Father Figure, Town Portal to name a few). Here’s another name for that list: Overhead, The Albatross.
Bass is an often overlooked instrument in post rock. Often, the fault lies with the band as the bass as regulated to a very minuscule or standard role. However, the fans aren’t faultless either, often preferring to shine a light on the more prominent guitars. This can create a feedback loop, with bands looking to tap into what they perceive as the sound most important and impressive to their fans. Mindsedge make the sort of post rock that puts such loops to shame, showcasing what happens when the bass guitar is utilized properly within the realms of post rock. Their album Shade owes much of its power and grandeur to the bass guitar rather than to delay infused crescendos and somber leads which grate against the heart.