I’ve written before, as I’m sure I will again, about the therapeutic nature, if not outright necessity, of music. The healing properties and medicinal purposes of this art is fairly well-chronicled but we can never be reminded of that enough. In my own experiences, and where I find myself in life, a lot of that healing or mental well-being is cultivated in listening to varieties of post-fill in the blank music. I listen to it at night when I need to calm my brain down, when I need to be able to focus on work, or I feel something that I can’t express. Others will inevitably have their own preferred niche, genre, or style. None of them are invalid options.
However, when it comes to post-rock’s current niche, I find it hard, on my own personal level, to resist the pull of all of the, typically sans vocals, very creative and meditative music being churned out by a number of bands. My gut feeling on this is that we will always owe a small (to say the least!) debt to the prog rock bands of the 1970s and 1980s as well as those who further pioneered what we have come to know of this style. Foundational members of the genre include Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Sigur Ros (more for their huge soundscapes), and Explosions in the Sky (EITS).
Within that framework, it’s worth noting that many groups and scenes have sprung up as other bands have expanded on those roots. One such place that has done this is Austin, TX and their Southwest Post-Rock Collective, hugely influenced by EITS, but striving to have fun with the form while taking it in their own directions. One such band in this club is Seven Circles who have focused on integrating their sound with their live show achieving something therapeutic all their own. As it says in the band’s bio “Seven Circles is a small collective of love, hope, and creativity. Tuning our instruments to A=432hz, and pouring our intent into this music, we in the most humble way seek to inspire change in the form of healing and growth, and the pursuit of true freedom in the human experience.” A noble effort if there ever was one, particularly in the pursuit of popular music and after recent events, one we could all use a little bit of.
The band have just released their latest album, Retrograde Parade, which pulses, swirls, and envelopes the listener with a huge sound that belies their three-piece setup. Tracks like “Mirrors” and “Vibrational” stand out here but one amazing thing this band does is in creating such a strong sense of continuity that one can easily cue up any single track and be instantly transported into the band’s intense maelstrom of post-rock glory. As much as their previously mentioned spiritual, if not sonic, forebears and current colleagues in bands such as Herons!, God is an Astronaut, and sleepmakeswaves, are somewhat present and accounted for in the onslaught (which, let’s face it, is a strange way to describe post-rock but here we are), this band takes an approach that radically shifts and churns away from many of the typical elements while sounding safe at home within the niche.
On “Bare Bones” the band dabbles in the heavier end of the pool hinting at the likes of Russian Circles or Pelican while retaining their sense of tunefulness. These aren’t the only reference points for this band, however, as there are a litany of influences at work here but none that linger for long or loom so heavily over the affair that it doesn’t sound original. In that way, this is a vibrant and potent release, one that really, any fan of post-music should give a spin. There may very well be something for all ears on Retrograde Parade.