While our Post Rock Post series may suggest otherwise, several of us on staff not named Nick or Eden also keep up on the genre’s latest offerings. I still remember being blown away by Mogwai‘s Come On Die Young back in college and slowly pulling back the layers of post-rock’s back catalog of essential releases. While I may not follow the genre as closely as our resident mind twins, there are always a handful of albums from the genre each year that stick with me due to their emotional and compositional heft. The sudden surge in “post-rock is dead” memes can’t detract from the genre’s unmatched ability to create cinematic landscapes of tension and pure sonic beauty. Blindpassasjer is a textbook example of these strengths in action and well worth me invading Nick and Eden’s territory. An extraordinarily talented quintet, 1099 produces some of the lushest post-rock I’ve heard in some time, complete well-placed supplementary instrumentation and fully fleshed out song concepts that stretch out beyond the confines of the genre.
There’s no dancing around the fact that Blindpassasjer is a goliath of an album to trek through, clocking in at over an hour with no track falling much below the five-minute mark. But the runtime is fully warranted, as 1099 explore a slew of unique textures across every song and individual moment. “Silverdal” revolves around an infectious, repetitive structure, almost like Steve Reich trying his hand at crafting a punchy post-rock track with an emphasis on the “rock.” The catchiness continues on gems like “Tundra,” which boasts an almost post-hardcore-esque guitar hook that feels immediate yet anthemic before capitalizing on the latter with a massive crescendo. Grandiosity reaches its peak on the 11-and-a-half minute epic “Til Jorden,” a bonafide post-rock symphony complete with a tidal wave of soaring guitar tremolos and pedal steel bolstered by a small army of analog synths.
The biggest surprise on Blindpassasjer is not only the elements of smooth jazz on the album, but more shockingly, how well they work. Most notably, “Osiris” and “Kontinental” both contain some clean, tasteful saxophone that recalls the work of fellow Norweigan Jan Garbarek. Though the mere mention of soft jazz haunts jazz fans like the spirit of Kenny G, the saxophone is a versatile instrument capable of capturing every possible mood to enhance a track’s overarching themes. Guest saxophonist Kåre Kolve performs a perfect pairing with 1099’s compositions on these tracks, weaving through webs of spacious, jazzy post-rock to cement a smooth, luxurious mood.
While there’s much more to dissect about what Blindpassasjer has to offer, it’s best to take the journey with 1099 and parse through every moment as an awed spectator. If Google Translate serves me well, the album title translates to “stowaways” in Norwegian, which provides a perfect visual for the listening experience. We’re all unexpected passengers on 1099’s vessel, standing in the shadows of the gargantuan compositions the band unravels across the album’s dozen tracks. It seems like every standalone PRP and our monthly roundup includes claims of “must-listen” albums, but truthfully, Blindpassasjer is a can’t-miss testament to why we here at Heavy Blog tirelessly combat the notion that post-rock is a washed-up genre. To the contrary, bands like 1099 continue to infuse fresh, inspiring ideas into an already proven formula, leading to music that blends old and new techniques to create essential, modern interpretations of what the genre can accomplish.