We’re going to do something a little bit different with this Post Rock Post. Instead of focusing on a single band, we’re going try and see if we can get a recurring sub-segment going, focusing on an interesting new feature of the post rock scene: musical collectives. While the idea is by no means new (the 60’s and 70’s had plenty of them) it’s safe to say that post rock is seeing a resurgence of it. Who knows what the reasons are? The age of the Internet, financial constraints, growing markets which make it harder to get independent voices out there, all of these are tempting narratives. The truth is, the answer is probably all of those combined, with a little added splash of musical creativity and the innate desire to jam.
Each time, we’ll pick one of these collectives and dig deep into the music it has to offer. We’ll treat it like an album when possible (that is, if the collective has released an album or not) and, where that isn’t possible, as a collection of bands. We’ll start with post rock but I’m not ruling out branching out into more styles; I know more collectives out there exist and that some of them breach well into metal. If you know of any that you’d me like to cover, simply leave a link or a name in the comments below. Now, without further ado, let’s get started. To start off, we’re going to be looking at the Southwest Post-Rock Collective and their album, Volume I: Waveforms.
Full disclosure: this is the collective that first gave me the idea for this series. That’s no accident, seeing as a good friend of mine is in one of the bands. Gregory Greenberg AKA Instar plays bass for the excellent Seven Circles, found at the bottom of this release. The minute he had told me that this collective was a thing, my eyes lit up with that mischievous glint that a content hungry editor gets when he hears of the next post. And so, here we are with See You In the Morning and their track, “Siberia”. This Pink Floyd tinged post-rock is a great opener to this album; its fantastic expanse sets the horizons for the release, describing the boundaries without boxing anything in.
COSMS, the next band on our roster, has already enjoyed our Post Rock Post treatment so we’ll leave them be for now. Needless to say, this track is excellent and you should by no means skip it yourself. Right after them, Vorcha present us “Ispahan”, a more meaty track with plenty of guitar feedback and reverb to set our ears pleasantly a-thrumming. However, it’s the intriguing Dalyuta Means Kindness that steals our heart, with their Mono drenched “Everywhere You Look There’s A Mountain”. The relatively tame main guitar line is supported by a fascinating layer beneath it that often sounds almost like a wind instrument; this lends the track some sort of allure, a mysterious and atmospheric charm that closes off the beginnings of this album with a pleasing and enchanting note.
Keeping the momentum going, Mount Sherpa kick off this, our imagined second part (more a tool of convenience than an actual segmentation in the album) with a somber and emotional track named “Tabor’s Head”. Living in the same country as Mount Tabor, I can confirm that these sonorous tollings echo the majesty of that peak. The track is one of the more convincing we’ve heard so far: the drums work is simply exquisite, each cymbal hit a delight to the ears. Keep your ears open for the shift smack in the middle of the track, that bass line is set to cause some serious movement in your neck area. The cymbal delight continues with the fantastic When the Sky Sleeps, injecting some groove into their brand of spacey post rock. Their track “The Ghost We Haunt” will haunt you with its expert little touches on both the set and the guitar.
The Khost are up next, with some of the most original and down right moving post-rock I’ve heard for a while. Their vocals (yes, vocals!) are dreamy and yet still concise, interacting really well with the post-rock fundamentals that support them. “Azure” is a great track, conveying exactly the color it’s name for, steeped in some sort of sadness but also a longing and a hope for more. Both it and its predecessor, “Flamingos” by Play By Numbers, are somewhat of a curveball and it’s pretty interesting that they were located in the middle of this release. Interesting and great since they really bring something new to the table, keeping this release’s momentum going.
We next find ourselves where we began, with the familiar Seven Circles. Honestly, all personal bias aside, this is by far one of the strongest acts on this album. “Sentient Seed” is that to a tee: with the robust bass underpinning the whole thing, the playful/hopeful/mysterious guitar lead living above it and the drums granting solid backbone to the whole thing. The track progresses through twists and bends of the main theme, weaving a tapestry of sound that is complemented by the classically post-rock second lead. Our closing track, clocking in at ten minutes, is almost the antithesis to this. Legendary Skies and their “Novarupta” present us with a brooding, spacious epilogue to this fantastic album. Perhaps tying full circle with See You In the Morning, Legendary Skies deal a classic version of post-rock that suffers no lack of impact for that fact. They are a perfect closer to this album, reminding us of the roots of the scene and where it’s going.
And that’s it! I hope you’ve enjoyed this new format; there are plenty more collectives out there, in post-rock and out of it, and I’ll be tackling them in the coming months. Again, if you’d like to see a specific collective here, regardless of genre, please feel free to mention it in the comments below. I’m of the firm belief that these communities contain one of the answers to the ever-shifting complexities of the modern music scene, with its many challenges for listeners and artists alike. See you next time!