The question of what exactly makes post-rock what it is is a hotly debated one. But, as with all forms of discourse, there are usually a few “points of truth” on which everyone (more or less) tends to agree. For post-rock, some of these include the lack of vocals (although that one is very much debatable), a certain ambient aesthetic, and a melancholic emotional range. However, one of the core areas of disagreement, on which there is very little debate, is the importance of guitar effects like reverb and delay. These two disparate manipulations of signal give post-rock it’s unique feel and set it apart from other “atmospheric” genres. When you hear a guitar echoing out into the distance or repeating itself faintly until sound and quiet lose their solid boundaries, you know you’re listening to post-rock.
In making their new album, Tӧrzs decided to use that fundamental idea in a new way. Their experimentation on Tükor does not come from breaching the core tenets of post-rock; in fact, one of Tükor‘s strong points is that it is a quintessentially post-rock album. Tracks like “Második” or “Negyedik” are unmistakably “of the genre”; their guitar tones ring out true and powerful, the drums usher in the instruments into their crescendos, while the bass underpins everything with its low grumble. Elsewhere, like on “Harmadik” for example, ambience rules the day for extended chunks of the track. The cover art, the track names, the aesthetic of the album, all of these will be very familiar, and pleasing, to fans of the genre.
What then is this “new approach” that we referred to above? Well, Tükor was recorded entirely at Aggteleki Cseppkőbarlang, located within a cave system in a Hungarian national park. Yes, I know what you’re thinking; the first time I read the press release, I was thinking the same thing. Post-rock, and music in general, is full of gimmicks and this seems like just another one. But it really, really isn’t. There’s an unmistakable and ethereal quality to the reverb on Tükor. It’s nothing essentialist and regressive as “the real thing just sounds better than the simulation”. Instead, it’s an unmistakable yet impossible to track down quality of sound; the “waves” of sound keeping back at you just sound different. Not better, but different, more rounded, less finely defined, more omnipresent and, therefore, directionless.
For Tӧrzs, with their Pink Floyd reminiscent scintillating guitars, ambient passages, and ponderous groove section, this sound works amazingly well. It adds to the fundamental post-rock formula utilized by the band, giving their music a sense of place and size that’s not comparable to the way we usually use these adjectives. It’s not about tone or volume, like with Russian Circles for example. It’s not about sheer mass. It’s more about the way notes dive into each other, how little pieces of the music are dragged along way, way after the hit which birthed them from the string has been struck. Whatever it is, it just elevates Tükor to whole new heights; the music, the composition, the execution of it, stands well on its own. But when backed by the unique circumstances that this album was created under, and the unique story they tell, it is transformed into an emotional, encompassing, and engrossing release.
Tükor was released on October 18th. You can head on over to the band’s Bandcamp page above to grab it.