Listen, 2020 has been a very good year for music in general, post- included. That goes doubly so when you take Covid into account. However, I don’t think any of us were mentally prepared for the absolute deluge of great albums we would have to cover this month. I’m not joking when I say that this might be the most albums we’ve had listed in our group Google Doc for any month since starting this entire column. It also felt like the first time I’ve gone into writing about every “alt” entry (everything I wrote up outside of my top pick) and could have easily made a case for it being my main in most months. That’s just how good November 2020 was.
That’s all to say that we have a lot of great content for you all this month, and that’s even before mentioning the band featured in our still-new spotlight feature: Respire. If you read this column you are most likely already familiar with the Canadian experimental post-black group and some, if not all, of the unexpected trials they’ve been through in releasing their new album Black Line. If not, Trent goes into detail on that below. You can bet your butts as well that we’ll be talking more about them in next month’s column when we cover December’s releases.
Buckle up, folks. This is a long and good one.
Take Me Somewhere Nice: Respire
While technically not a November release, we knew we had to have Respire on as a feature artist this year in support of their new full-length Black Line which was delayed from earlier this fall, and coincidentally finally released just this Friday (Dec. 4th). They were kind enough to take time out of their schedule to answer some interview questions about the growth of the band, the new album itself, and some of the lesser-publicized issues bands are facing around the world in the current socio-economic hellscape. With three albums under their belt, Respire have grown into one of the most important acts right now in each of blackgaze, post-rock and screamo. While not pigeon-holing themselves into either of those exclusively, their fusion is like fanning the flames of catharsis with a can of kerosene. In a world of increasing musical saturation, this is truly a unique listening experience. There is also no album better befitting of closing out 2020 to, than an apocalyptic-orchestral-blackened-post-everything album about the world burning.
As mentioned, this release was originally slated for an earlier release date in the year – however in recognition and solidarity with the victims of the owner of Holy Roar Records, the group decided to part ways with the label. Unfortunately, this meant finding a new home to release the album from (Church Road Records) and a necessary delay until December. We dug into this a bit more in the interview below.
Black Line shows the continued growth of their distinct Godspeed You! Black Emperor meets City of Caterpillar meets Deafheaven approach. Here we find the guitar taking a more front and centre approach, but the orchestral/chamber music elements including viola, violin, trumpet, saxophone, glockenspiel and more are ever present in their cinematic, heart-wrenching glory. This is also their angriest record to date, as they channel their screamo/emotive hardcore roots along with that more aggressive and angular guitar work. In the spirit of their name, we could all benefit from taking a moment to respire. Take a moment to realize that the fires that burn inside us can light up the world for the better.
Heavy Blog is Heavy: Respire has had a fairly natural evolution over the past three albums while you continue to refine your unique sound. Can you speak to that growth since your debut LP Gravity and Grace?
Egin Kongoli: Gravity and Grace was a collection of the songs we wrote throughout our first three years – there was no real direction towards a cohesive record – it all came out of the material we had been playing live. Dénouement was our first attempt at creating a cohesive record, with most of the songs never having been played live before we hit the studio. As much preparation and foresight went into that album, a lot, if not most, of the orchestral material came together in-studio through experimentation and improvisation. I think we began to cement the process of making a Respire record in the Dénouement sessions, but there was still a lot of learning and room for improvement. Black Line is our most ambitious and actualized goal of what we’ve imagined this band to sound like. We were able to create an aggressive record that didn’t treat any of its parts as filler – the guitars are just as integral as the orchestral elements are driving. As is the way these things sometimes go, we have never played a single song off Black Line live. A real 180 from the G&G days of live testing songs, re-working sections, experimenting for the sake of it, and putting it all together in the studio.
Rohan Lilauwala: We’re always looking to try new things, and to do the things we’re doing better than before. We always try and be deliberate and meticulous, working through every little detail to achieve our artistic vision. We’ve learned SO MUCH since Gravity and Grace – when, looking back, some of the decisions we made were unfathomably stupid. We recorded the entire album without a click track, and there’s probably a hundred layers all meandering off tempo. ‘Pitter Patter’ starts in an alternating pattern of 4/4 and 3/4 before switching to 3/4 – this was completely unintentional. It must have been hell for Paul Mack, our producer. We’ve come a long way since those chaotic days, but learning how to create a uniscient sound with three guitars and orchestral elements is a project that I don’t think will ever end.
HBIH: You seem to be widening your musical palette even further with this release with some of the heavier moments I’ve heard from you to date (such as the opening of “Cicatrice” and the ending of “Embers to End”). Was this an intentional endeavour that came out of the noticeable passion and that call-to-arms anger that partly shapes this album, or just what felt like a natural fit for the songs? Is this something we might expect more of down the road?
EK: I think there are a couple different reasons. We want every record to sound different than the one before, and looking back we felt a lot of the guitar work on Dénouement was too comfortable in the background. We went into these new songs with a drive to make it more aggressive and guitar-forward than our previous material, and I think our personal influences in heavy music were allowed to shine as a result. In a ‘which came first, the chicken or the egg’ way, I can’t be certain whether the subject matter of Black Line was born out of this aggressiveness, or whether our anxieties and fears about the world we are living in drove the music to its extreme. I think with the message of Dénoument being one of personal redemption and empowerment, the natural progression of what we wanted to say with Black Line became a further distillation of that call-to-arms, not just of self-actualization, but of actualizing our place in the landscape that is 21st century decline.
RL: Who knows what people can expect down the road. We try to stay inventive, approaching each new writing cycle with fresh ears and ideas. Maybe our next record will lean more into baroque indie pop influences. Or maybe it will be even darker, indulging our sludge and crust leanings. Maybe we’ll go full Kid A and make a bleep bloop record. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
We live in a world of division, hatred, xenophobia and scorched-earth tactics toward progress at whatever cost. This road can hold only one ending for our people.
HBIH: Continuing from there, there seems to be a lot of metaphors to Fire on this album – through both the titles/lyrics, and artwork and merch. Can you speak to what fueled that, and the art direction behind Black Line?
EK: Black Line’s subject matter was born out of fire – of watching ancient forests around the world go up in flames driven by man’s hubristic civilization. As the 21st century drags its heels into a third decade, we are made painfully aware of our abject failures to productively face this looming existential crisis. Long gone are any well-wishes of a brighter tomorrow, replaced by dread and constant tragedy. We live in a world of division, hatred, xenophobia and scorched-earth tactics toward progress at whatever cost. This road can hold only one ending for our people. We believe it to be an inevitability of our current juncture. We must realize our collective fate within the flames before it’s all but too late. Black Line is an attempt to reconcile the self within this fate, to find actualization within the flames. It is only out of the ashes of the old that we may pave a path forward.
HBIH: As someone living just outside the Greater Toronto area where Respire calls home, I want to dig into the local scene a bit: How important has the Toronto scene been to your development and success as a band? Any up-and-comers that we should have an eye on?
RL: Toronto’s been a very important place for us over the years. We forged the friendships that we built Respire on within the DIY community over the past decade. We went from the awkward kids in the room enthusiastically showing up for touring bands and performing for people in their 30s, to running shows as the old hands, booking fests ourselves as part of New Friends DIY. We don’t play Toronto as much as we’d like (or at least, we didn’t before the pandemic), but hometown shows have become more and more special as we see the friends we’ve made over the years.
EK: While we might look at the Toronto DIY scene doe-eyed, it’s also important to talk about how our city has failed us in so many ways. While the DIY scene is warm and welcoming, the city as a whole can feel cold and uncaring. It’s a place that prides itself on diversity but fails the communities that make it diverse. As we write this, COVID cases surge in the poorest parts of the city, filled with ‘essential workers’ of colour that Toronto depends on.
RL: Toronto is the ‘progressive’ place that elected the ignorant, malicious, and bigoted Rob Ford (Trump before Trump) as our mayor in 2010. A place that is growing so rapidly that main street institutions (including many venues and places of cultural value) are being torn down to build more charmless condos (that are as much places to park wealth as places to inhabit), while coddling rich homeowners and making sure their investments are protected. It truly is a place of extremes. As far as up and comers – it’s hard to say since we’ve all been locked at home for the past year – ask us again once shows start back up.
HBIH: Feel free to indulge as much as you wish here, but you were of course part of the fallout of the awful news regarding the owner of Holy Roar Records. I know at the time it must have been thrilling to be joining an esteemed label such as them and the news must have been devastating, especially in the middle of promoting and starting presale for Black Line. You were fortunate to be able to relatively quickly move on to work with Church Road Records. While obviously frustrating to have to deal with in the first place, how has that transition been?
RL: As you might imagine, it’s been a strange transition. We were thrilled to have the interest of Holy Road when it started – we’re big fans of bands like Svalbard and Rolo Tomassi, and were impressed by Holy Roar’s pitch. Once the news broke, we wallowed briefly – coming down from the high of the reception to our first single was real. However, we quickly realized we were far from the true victims of this circumstance, and moved out of that wallowing towards action.
We were determined to do what’s right and try to push for a productive resolution, primarily for the victims, but also the bands under the label roster. We were lucky enough while at Holy Roar to meet Justine, who was running the day-to-day of the label, and shared our mission to do the right thing. Once she offered us a chance at not only finishing what we had started together, but also keeping the record more or less on track, we knew it was the right call. The transition has been smooth because Justine is a total pro.
We kept production on track and re-stickered our jackets that had the Holy Roar logo printed on them – it seemed like a terrible idea to toss 1000 jackets for a record that’s about climate change. Apart from having to cancel the first wave of pre-orders and move the release back three weeks, we couldn’t have asked for a smoother transition.
HBIH: Are any of you involved in other music projects you’d like to plug? If you could play in a band of a different genre, what genre would you want to play?
RL: It’s funny, when we started we all had multiple projects going, but Respire sort of consumed all of them. To be honest, there are tons of different genres I’d love to play. I’d love to play in a crusty, blackened hardcore band, or a melancholic 90s emo band, or have a dream-pop/shoegaze/slowcore side project. Maybe one day. Or maybe Respire will just play those styles.
EK: Like Rohan there are always styles and influences I’d like to play. Though I came out of Toronto’s indie rock/pop scene of the 2000s, I’ve been playing more-or-less the same style of emotive hardcore over the last decade. Recently, I’ve been toying again with the notion of writing goth/post-punk influenced material, maybe marrying something heavy like Jesu with The Cure. Being in first year law school, I sadly don’t have time for any of that. But I do play drums in a screamo project called And Always, and we hope to record another set of new material in 2021.
With or without words, post-rock is able to tug at those heart-strings and carry listeners on an emotional journey of feeling, rejoicing, reconciliation and healing. Screamo, and emotive hardcore in general, takes the same emotionality of post-rock and dials it up to a fervor of untethered chaos.
HBIH: Respire is a go to when in the need for that euphoric, cathartic release from music. What is it about post rock and screamo that lends itself to being this conduit so well?
EK: Simply, I think it’s because post-rock and screamo both are about emotionality distilled to a singular expression. With or without words, post-rock is able to tug at those heart-strings and carry listeners on an emotional journey of feeling, rejoicing, reconciliation and healing. Screamo, and emotive hardcore in general, takes the same emotionality of post-rock and dials it up to a fervor of untethered chaos. I think that’s what drew me to this kind of music in the first place. There is catharsis in letting emotions take hold, in displaying our failures, our anxieties and fears to the world without a care for what they might think. We approach our music with that same cathartic goal, both in performance and through composition. It’s good to hear others receive it in the same way. Our goal might be fulfilled just by playing it to ourselves, but it adds a whole new level of catharsis to know our authentic emotionality resonates with others.
HBIH: You have been pretty vocal in the past about the challenges and struggles of touring internationally, especially in regards to border crossings. Obviously Covid-19 has thrown another wedge in that issue, but what sort of changes need to be implemented to make international tours more feasible? Any optimism about getting out in the coming year? I know fans abroad are looking forward to a chance to see you!
RL: To be fair, international touring has been incredibly rewarding for us, and we’ve had some amazing and life-changing experiences in Europe and Mexico. It’s been touring the US that has proven itself to be problematic. We started down the road of planning some US shows in 2019, and quickly priced the visa and other associated fees at almost $4,000. The paperwork requirements are absolutely ridiculous and don’t distinguish between bands selling out arenas and bands playing DIY shows – we needed everything from signed contracts paying us ‘union rates’ to a carnet for our gear, to customs documentation for merch. The entire system is broken – especially compared to the requirements for American bands we book in Toronto, who get in based on one letter of invitation from us as promoters and nothing more.
EK: As immigrants, we (Rohan and myself) are more than well aware of the difficulties borders place on the mobility of individuals. Growing up with an Albanian passport, there were more doors held closed than open to my people. Whatever globalism existed in the 1990s seems totally lost, replaced by a state of suspicion and paranoia against those that may not have the same documents as ourselves. As the world further retracts into conservatism and fearful isolationism, borders have become a thing to fear. COVID has thrown a further wrench into this mess, closing doors absolutely to travellers and migrants alike. To be honest, I don’t know what’s next for us as a global community. What I do know is that art is needed now more than ever before. Mutuality is a powerful force. We yearn to have that chance to feel together, to revel in expression and emotion. The only way forward is a bridging of these gaps, of coming together and facing other identities, voices, expressions and messages with open arms. Art is a way to do this. I hope we get the chance to take our art and message across borders again one day soon.
You, You’re Awesome (Top Picks)
A Burial At Sea – self-titled (mathy post-rock with horns)
It’s been quite a time since a debut LP dropped on us with this kind of capability and confidence. Yes, Liverpool’s A Burial At Sea released a 3 song EP back in 2018, but this self-titled full-length is their proper premiere, and an entirely different ball game altogether. It certainly isn’t a stretch to conjure memories of another UK debut that left jaws on the floor more than a decade ago, as this record has distinct echoes of And So I Watch You From Afar’s stunning 2009 introduction. It shares a similar blend of math and post-rock characteristics shot through with a heavy dose of rock star bombast, creating an energy that is simultaneously raucous and joyous. The very welcome wrinkle offered by A Burial At Sea is the presence of trumpet performance adding a layer of melodic and emotional resonance that lifts the record to great heights at expertly-timed moments. The balancing act here is to make an impact without an overreliance on the horns, and in that aim the band consistently nails the mark.
The simple, striking cover art conveys a warming notion that feels more relevant right now; the painted image depicts a tree ablaze, and as birds escape above the band marches forward still with instruments in tow, refusing to discontinue their performance even in the face of a looming threat. There is a solidarity and determination in this vision that translates to the music contained within, which would be an inspiring notion in any year, but it’s particularly powerful in 2020. I understand that this can’t really be known or quantified by a listener, but as you progress through the album there is an intangible sense that the members of A Burial At Sea absolutely love playing with one another.
Regardless of the accuracy of this assessment, it’s undeniable that this perception is a vital asset for the record. There is a cohesiveness of vision, an electricity to the performance, and a lasting impression that has the power to lift you long after the album comes to a close. Approaching the final moments of an uncompromising year, it becomes more and more essential to feel like we’re in this together, and that our shared experience can still be thrilling and gratifying. A Burial At Sea’s self-titled debut stands not only as a great record, but as a great opportunity to lose oneself in something brimming with life, passion and exuberance.
Mountain Caller – Chronicle I: The Truthseeker (post-metal)
Some albums you listen to with incredible passion to start with and then that flame slowly decreases as time goes by. It never fully disappears; embers are left in its wake. But whether by extreme overuse (i.e. playing the album dozens of time a week) or just by changing your perspective, that initial burst of emotion you got from the album turns into something more moderate and more constant. But then some albums, like Mountain Caller’s Chronicle I: The Truthseeker, keep on burning bright no matter how many times you spin them. What sets these albums apart? What keeps that initial spark alive in them so that, whether you’re playing the album for the fifth or the fiftieth (or, indeed, the fifth hundred) time, it still blazes so brightly in your heart?
It’s probably a question we can’t answer in the scope that’s given to us here but we don’t actually need to answer it; we ought, rather, to feel it and this album is as good an opportunity as any to do so. I think part of the secret of why The Truthseeker keeps so well is that it has so many layers, twists, and turns to it. Mountain Caller have really taken the progressive part of progressive stoner to heart, injecting their music with a lot of clever ideas and, mostly, structures. It’s not exactly that the music is technically challenging or surprising. It’s that the album feels like a labyrinth or an unspooling forest path. There’s always something new behind the next corner, even if you’ve turned it dozens of times before.
This also contributes to the sense of story and grandeur which the album manifests, first channeling with its awesome cover art. When you listen to this album, as should be the case with any great instrumental album, it’s not “just” about the actual notes being played and how pleasing they are (even if they are very pleasing). There’s a greater sense of a journey being travelled, of a story being told, of a world that lives and breathes behind the music. Maybe we’ve answered our unanswerable question after all: the albums which seem to stand the test of time, and the extensive play-counts which that time brings, are those that seek to take you elsewhere with their music. Mountain Caller do that with more finesse and expertise than most bands in the genre and that’s what makes this release so good.
pg.lost – Oscillate (heavy synth rock, post-metal)
There hasn’t been a shortage of great post- albums blending heaviness, synths, and electronic textures this year. Barrens, Aesthesys, Postvorta, Martlet, The Ocean, and I’m sure some others I’m forgetting have been providing a fittingly dramatic soundtrack to the malaise of this cursed year. Veterans pg.lost have been perfecting this blend for over a decade now though, and on their fifth album Oscillate, they’ve produced possibly their darkest and most captivating album yet.
Oscillate takes all the best parts of eerie synth melodicism found in the likes of Mogwai’s more recent soundtrack work and combines it with the band’s knack for crafting big, dramatic setpieces into a hulking beast of a record. It is perhaps the platonic ideal of the heavy synth record, deeply tuned into wringing atmosphere and emotion through its synthy foundation, but without ever compromising on writing compositions packed with addictive riffs and builds that swell to colossal heights. To fully understand how well they execute this combination, you need to go towards the end of the album in the penultimate track “Eraser.” Kicking off with a straight-ahead upbeat groove propelled by a killer riff, the track gallops along in triumphant fashion for several minutes before resetting into a half-time march, which it gradually builds up into a classically epic climax of wild riffage that more than earns the crescendo-core-like length and structure it adheres to. It’s a white-knuckle ride and completely demanding of your attention at every moment.
Elsewhere the band excels at synthesizing so many pieces of modern post- while retaining their own identity. The anthemic “E22” sounds like a mashup of upbeat 65daysofstatic with What We Must-era Jaga Jazzist, its huge melodies elevating the song’s already soaring energy. “Shelter” takes a Mogwai-like progression and gloom and transforms it into a thriller, with some big help from drummer Martin Hjertstedt. “Waves” goes for more introspection and wrings beauty and hope out of the deep dark. Oscillate pulls no punches throughout, and despite its near hour-long runtime it goes by in a flash thanks to its persistently compelling songwriting. Absolutely a highlight in a year packed with highlights in this style.
Enjoy Eternal Bliss (Best of the Rest)
Absent Hearts – The Peak & The Valley (post-rock, prog rock)
Reminiscent of bands like Sleeping Bear, Absent Hearts make the sort of post-rock that shuns big crescendos and long tracks for a compact and intimate package. I probably could (and still might) write pages about this release and the post-rock ideas which it touches upon. The power in fragility that the genre exemplifies, the relationship between nostalgia, nature, and hope, and the overall solace that can be found in melancholy. All of these themes, ideas, and concepts are beautifully executed on this unassuming but incredibly passionate and well made album. I don’t often go for this kind of sparse post-rock these days but The Peak & The Valley has managed to find its way into my heart.
albinobeach – The Ladder (post-rock, post-metal)
This is probably going to be the theme for most entries in this section this month, but if November hadn’t been so ridiculously stacked South African post-prog trio albinobeach’s latest album The Ladder could have easily been my favorite of the month. Bringing together progressive sensibilities with great post-metal foundations and even some swagger and funk, The Ladder is just an incredibly fun and enjoyable listen that is cerebral and boogie-worthy all at once. It’s rare that you see such a nimble sensibility in this kind of heavy prog, but albinobeach deftly manage to keep a kinetic and driving energy throughout, thanks in large part to lean and compact songwriting featuring many tracks under 5 minutes. Simply put, I love this album, and you should too.
Arcing Wires – Prime (post-metal/progressive/jazz fusion)
Almost any other month this would have been my featured album, so make no mistake, Prime is a certified top-tier addition to the list of 2020 releases. The Australian quintet’s debut record sits comfortably in a space that I’d imagine is uncomfortable for the average musician, somewhere at the crossroads of prog, mathcore, and jazz. It’s safe to say that most listeners will come to this for the impressively off-kilter virtuosity. But it’s the heart and soul that lie behind that, inhabiting the proceedings with an unexpected, almost approachable brightness, that will keep them coming back for more.
Elaine the Singer – self-titled (math-rock, prog, post-rock)
Last year’s monster release from Town Portal, Of Violence, remains one of the fiercest-sounding prog-math albums I’ve heard. The band appear to have some company though with California’s Elaine the Singer and their self-titled debut. At a lean 26 minutes, the band absolutely tear through jams with sludgy grooves, chainsaw riffs, and constantly off-kilter patterns. Try to keep up with this one or just sit back and expect the unexpected.
Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou – May Our Chambers Be Full (post-metal, doom)
What a month, huh? Well, technically this came out at the end of October, but it didn’t make it into last month’s post. We can’t let this stone go unturned, though – not that it’s flying under anyone’s radar, as the album has been receiving tons of high marks and showing up in some of the shamelessly early AOTY lists that have already been circulating. Well deserved praise it is, as this pairing proves just as inspired as it sounds on paper. What I’ve found striking about May Our Chambers Be Full is how it reveals all the ways in which two seemingly much different artists actually have more in common than you see on the surface; Emma Ruth Rundle has always invited the darkness into her folky post-everything solo work, while Thou has given sludge metal something of a melodic makeover.
When put together, each artist is able to more deeply explore that which their individual work only hints at, thus making this a marriage made for all the right reasons. Interestingly, their combined efforts result in music with a bit of a throwback quality, almost like a darker, heavier take on a ‘90s Quicksand record at times. This album commands close attention, and never once does it sound like the product of separate artists, a major accomplishment given its premise.
First Dates – Maybe Next Time (piano post-rock)
While certainly not unusual for the genre, I will contend that piano is perhaps the most under-utilized instrument in post-rock. Ever since hearing 65daysofstatic’s“Radio Protector” and Maybeshewill’s “He Films the Clouds” all those years ago, I’ve been completely captivated by how well piano used in this context can resonate emotionally. Unlike those examples however, I hesitate a bit to call this “rock” per se, as the only instrument outside of the piano here is percussion. Yet, it builds with the wistful yearning of an Explosions in the Sky with its simple but effective crescendos and fluttery repetition that can both pull on your heart strings and fill you with blissful joy. Somewhere between an ambient piano album and a more jazz-oriented sound, it fits firmly in that intimate, comforting realm where post-rock dwells with open arms.
Format – Coryphée (post-math rock)
Here’s my occasional reminder that a well-written and concise personal email can get you much farther than any number of generic blast emails. France’s Format reached out to me a few weeks ago to tell me about their second EP Coryphée, and I was immediately impressed. It’s got a great combination of mathy technicality with a bite in the low-end, as well as some great use of layers and atmospherics. It’s only 5 tracks, but those 5 tracks hit hard. Keep an eye on this one. A full-length album of this quality could make some serious waves.
Ingrina – Siste Lys (post-metal, blackened doomgaze)
I don’t know if you’ll hear a post-metal album this year that does so much with atmosphere. This whole album is like a dense fog that you find yourself wandering through, with brief glimpses of light that you hold onto as a glimmer of hope. The distant frightening shrieks keep you attentive, yet lost to the will of the wall of sound reverberating around you. Ingrina have taken what the likes of Glassing have done to fuse atmospheric sludge metal with post-hardcore touches, but moulded in a more doomgaze approach. Siste Lys takes that adage “soaked in reverb” and opts for throwing the whole damn thing into a lake of reverb. Yet, underneath that veil is a cleverly sculpted post-metal album with moments of thunderous triumph. Instrumentally you find a lot of similarities to Oathbreaker as well with their more hardcore-crust integrated approach to post-black metal, with some of the memorable heaviness of Cult of Luna.
Jesu – Terminus (shoegaze, post-metal, slowcore)
2020 is either the worst timing for a new Jesu record, or the perfect timing, I can’t decide which, and I guess that sort of sums up Justin Broadrick’s aesthetic. It’s all about seemingly contradictory ideas coming together into something that feels natural, and with Terminus the artist is on his A-game, constructing avenues to transport depression to a state of breathtaking grace. As usual the pace is unhurried and the production has the swirling haziness of a fading dream. Like an impressionist painting or a Dario Argento film, its magic is strongest when you surrender yourself to it entirely. This is an album for darkened rooms and solitary moments; it’s also Jesu’s best work since classics like Conqueror and Silver.
Useless Wizard and a Wasteland Orchestra – collapse the light (post-rock, orchestral)
Useless Wizard and a Wasteland Orchestra is a new orchestral post-rock project out of St. Petersburg, Russia. Composed by one member with a slew of session instrumentalists providing violin, guitar, bass, drums, cello and backing vocals, the end product is a portrait of blissful, euphoric post-rock that dips its toes into psychedelia. On the surface the obvious comparisons are to Yndi Halda, but as the album progresses it teeters into an oddly unsettling dissonance, particularly with the stringed instruments that provides interesting contrast with a colorful sense of joy. In that sense, Collapse The Light is almost like the movie Midsommar in audio form, as you get these visions of flower-filled valleys, but with this growing droning sense of something being slightly off. Whether or not that was what these Russians were going for is unknown, but it makes for a uniquely rewarding listening experience.
The Endless Shimmering (Other Notable Releases)
Across the Moment – Symbiosis (post-rock)
Black Narcissus – Where the Flowers Grant You Wishes (prog post-rock, drum + bass)
Celestial Teapot – Perception (prog/post-rock)
Collapse Under the Empire – Everything Will Leave Beyond Us (post-rock, electronic)
Ephemeral Sky – Bipolar (post-metal, blackgaze)
Intervals – Circadian (instrumental prog metal)
Meadowlake – Wait For Me (dream pop, post-rock)
A Mutual Question – Connect (prog, post-rock, alt-metal)
Planetariet – Deluxe (post-rock)
Their Methlab – TSUNAMI (post-rock, post-metal)