Hello and the postiest of greetings you all! I’m sorry, it’s really hot today and my brain is completely fried. You know what’s great for that? That’

3 years ago

Hello and the postiest of greetings you all! I’m sorry, it’s really hot today and my brain is completely fried. You know what’s great for that? That’s right, some slow, crescendo-filled, emotional music! As we stand smack dab in the center of the year, post-rock…does the post-rock thing and asks us for patience. If we’re being honest, the first half of 2021 is probably one of the weakest ones in the history of the genre. Which is not to say that there haven’t been great albums released; there have been some excellent post albums so far. But as far as quantity goes, it seems as if we’re in the crescendo of a classic, drawn out post-rock track, every note (which are albums in this mixed, crooked metaphor) has taken its damn time to unfurl itself before us.

But the great thing about that classic, crescendo-core track is in the genre’s name: it’s the crescendo! And that crescendo truly is coming, seeing as how there are releases scheduled from bands like Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster, Wander, Black Flak and the Nightmare Fighers, Lehnen, Mountain, Driving Slow Motion (more on that soon), and those are just the names we can publicly talk about. Which is great but, still, if we’re being honest, it’s sort of weird that we need to make the intro a mid-year post about the second half of the year, right? Makes you feel bad, as if a familiar friend of yours has suddenly gone absent.

But hey, this is post-rock! What genre is there that more teaches us to appreciate what we have, to look beyond empty spaces into the promise of what might fill them tomorrow? One might say that learning to accept the emptiness and be hopeful about it is what post-rock is all about. And so, when we stand and look back at the first six months of 2021 in everything that is “post”, let us stay true to the genre’s themes and remain hopeful for the future while celebrating all the good that has already come our way. Because, as I said above, there have been some excellent releases in 2021.

And we’ll get to them further down below. As we’ve made a point in doing this past year though, we’ve got another fantastic artist profile/interview courtesy of David and Britain’s Outlander. Enjoy!

-Eden Kupermintz

Take Me Somewhere Nice: Outlander

One of the more exciting aspects of following a niche genre is coming across a virtually unknown but undeniably great band, sharing them with friends and like-minded music fans, realizing that you’re not the only one who’s enamored with them, and then watching them blossom as more and more folks get on board. Such is the case with Birmingham (UK)’s Outlander.

Several years ago when I was doing some research for one of the A Thousand Arms post-rock compilations, I happened upon their EP Downtime b/w Plans and was totally blown away by their wall-of-sound approach to songwriting which blended the slow, druggy, hazy vibes of doom, stoner, and shoegaze and shot them through with the engaging, emotional melodicism of post-rock. We featured one of the tracks on the comp and immediately began receiving fantastic feedback from listeners.

From there I started to see more and more post-rock fans talking about Outlander, leading up to their very well-received 2019 LP The Valium Machine, which saw the band begin to fold some distant, dreamy vocals into the mix. This addition, while seemingly a minor aspect of their overall sound, gave them a very unique quality that led to the record showing up on a lot of post-rock devotees’ album of the year lists.

Earlier this year Outlander released a new 2-song EP entitled Sundowning / Unconditional on Church Road Records, which formed out of the ashes of Holy Roar Records and has already taken on a considerable amount of that disgraced label’s impressive roster. We thought now would be a great time to chat with the band’s de facto spokesperson Joseph House about Outlander past, present and future.

Heavy Blog Is Heavy: First off, can you tell us a bit about the development of Outlander, where you started and how you got to where you are as a band today?

Joseph House: We went through a few different line-ups from 2012 – 2015 before kind of settling on the line-up that recorded Take Turns b/w I’ll Get Mine Too. Dan, Jack and I met at college and our old guitar player Chris was a close friend at school. Chris left the band and I met Ian at a mutual friend’s show, we got chatting about Fugazi then he pretty swiftly joined the band and it’s been the four of us since. We were pretty straight down the line post-rock for the first couple of releases and it kind of naturally developed into something slower, heavier and darker. We introduced a pretty heavy slowcore influence for 2019’s The Valium Machine then late that year recorded Sundowning / Unconditional which we released a couple of weeks ago via Church Road records.

HBIH: What are some of your stylistic/sonic influences?

JH: We all come from different places musically and have our own individual formative influences so this is by no means exhaustive, but collectively some direct influences on us over the last few years or so have been Cloakroom, Jesu, Kowloon Walled City, Talk Talk, Slint, Blue Tile Lounge, Low, Duster, Codeine and Hum.

HBIH: What is your take on the “doomgaze” terminology? While we’re at it, this is obviously a post-rock focused post, so what are your thoughts on the increasingly broad concept of post-rock, and how does Outlander fit within that landscape?

JH:I know it’d probably be cooler to be like anti-label but I think it’s as apt a way as any to describe our sound and it’s nice to feel like we almost have a spiritual home amongst a bunch of similarly-minded bands from around the world, many of which we like to listen to/are influenced by. I definitely remember a time when to most people post-rock (unfairly) just meant “instrumental, twinkly guitar band with crescendo” so it’s been really nice to see the terminology be co-opted into something more all-encompassing and inclusive with adjacent genres and subdivisions becoming increasingly prominent.

I’m not sure exactly how we fit into the whole thing, it was definitely a big influence on us when we formed but as we’ve gotten a bit older our tastes and influences have changed and expanded which has helped us find our own little corner stylistically. Post-rock will likely always be an element of our sound and we’re always glad when fans of the genre can find something to like about us.

HBIH: How is the scene for your style of music in the UK? Have people been receptive to what you’re doing, or have you found a more passionate following elsewhere?

JH: The UK has a great wider sort of “post” scene with some cool festivals like Arctangent and Portals where you can go and hear a great variety of bands from all corners of experimental, noisy and progressive music and lots of amazing artists. There aren’t too many UK bands (that I know of) pulling from the exact places we are in terms of influences, with most bands seemingly going at it from a heavier kind of angle but we don’t mind standing a bit more on our own in that respect. The doomy-shoegaze thing seems to be made up of mostly American bands so I think it’s kind of natural that we’ve picked up some friends over there but at this point it’s hard to know whether any one place is more receptive to us.

HBIH: You’re a band that relies on a wall-of-sound approach? Do you think that Outlander works better on record or in a live setting, or do you think there are different benefits to both contexts? If so, what would you say is the strongest element of each experience?

JH: We all love both and I definitely think there are different benefits to both contexts, the studio kind of allows us to achieve a fully realised version of what we have in our minds, we can spend a lot of time making it tonally perfect and choosing the right takes which naturally you can’t do live. The stage is a bit more natural/energetic with the loud stuff more engulfing and the quiet stuff more intimate, and it’s the best way to see the songs performed the way they were most often written with the four of us in a room together.

HBIH: The ways in which people communicate and consume content are constantly changing at a rate faster than we’ve ever seen, and that has obviously impacted the music world. What have you found most rewarding and most challenging about being a musician during your time as a band?

JH: It’s a difficult one because in many ways for most bands the ability to have your music even get in front of people in the first place is mostly in the hands of some faceless spotify algorithm that you can’t quantifiably affect and your ability to use social media which seems like bullshit to me, but on the other hand I’m not ignorant to the fact that these tools have allowed us to reach the majority of people that like our band. I think the way forward is definitely artist-centred platforms like bandcamp that kind of combine the best of both worlds and also ensure that artists are paid properly. Most rewarding is definitely hearing from people that have connected with our music from near and far through the internet, and being able talk directly to them with no barriers. Most challenging I guess is even getting your music out there in the first place – we were very lucky to connect with a few people (yourself included) who  shouted about us when we didn’t really know what we were doing but for long enough we definitely felt like we were just sort of throwing our music into the void.

HBIH: After a number of releases you’ve found yourself working with a label, Church Road, on this newest release Sundowning / Unconditional. What change, if any, has that had on the day-to-day experience for Outlander?

JH: Working with Justine, Sammy and Sam has been really great so far, people really trust their ability to put out great stuff across the whole spectrum of heavy music and because of that I think lots of people have checked out Sundowning / Unconditional that wouldn’t have ended up hearing it otherwise. Since working with Church Road we’ve definitely seen our platform expand and I think we’re all hoping that translates into the ability to go and do some cool stuff post-pandemic, and having some friends to handle the logistics and shoulder the financial burden for merch naturally means we can concentrate on making the music as fully realised as it can be. It’s also a bit of a milestone for all of us to have our own music on vinyl, so that was very sick too.

HBIH: Obviously the past year and change haven’t gone as any of us had planned. What were your plans supposed to be for 2020 and early 2021, and what does the rest of the year and beyond look like?

JH: Last year was supposed to be both our first chance to go out and tour and also our first time overseas with some dates in mainland Europe and an appearance at Dunk! Festival which we were very much looking forward to so we were pretty gutted when everything came to a halt. Our situation as a band wasn’t the easiest to navigate because I’m currently based in London and the rest of the guys in Birmingham which made practice quite difficult even when restrictions were eased slightly, so most of our productivity ended up being remote. Luckily we’d recorded Sundowning / Unconditional a little while before the pandemic struck so we were able to concentrate on release plans for that and more sort of administrative stuff if you like, but it’s been quite hard for all of us to go without playing together and we’re hoping to really get things moving again in the next couple of weeks. To be honest, the rest of 2021 will probably be about consolidating and preparing to figure out how to be a band again after all this time. We’ve got some UK shows booked and we’ve been working on demoing for something new which we’ll start to lay down in November. Beyond that it’s hard to say – we’ll continue to do whatever we can to get out and play and write and release music, hopefully for many years to come.

HBIH: What are some current bands/releases you’ve been really into lately? And what older albums have you been spinning most often?

Joseph: I’ve been loving the new Spirit of the Beehive record, the Militarie Gun debut and Caroline’s new two-track. Dry CleaningNew Long Leg was on repeat for a very long time, the new Black Midi and Arab Strap records and SprainAs Lost Through Collision (which is reasonably new to me) have been getting alot of playtime. I also really love Private WorldAleph and ProtomartyrUltimate Success Today from last year.

In terms of older stuff Jawbox’s Self Titled, Arthur Russell’s World of Echo, Karate’s discography, The ChameleonsScript of the Bridge and Do Make Say Think’s Goodbye Enemy Airship The Landlord Is Dead have all been on the end of deep dives recently.

Ian: I’ve been really into the noise rock scene of the mid 90s just lately, so there’s been a lot of Jesus Lizard, Cherubs and noise adjacent bands like Unwound on repeat. Joe introduced me to a band called Sprain, their new record has been in heavy rotation too. Through the pandemic we really got to grips with demoing and sharing ideas via computer, so that has kind of led me into learning more about synths and electronic music, which is something I’d only really skimmed up until this point. A particular highlight for me has been Lifestyles of the Laptop Cafe by The Other People Place, it’s so simplistic and minimal but really hypnotic. It’s amazing.

Sundowning / Unconditional, as well as The Valium Machine and Outlander’s other releases can all be found on Bandcamp.

-David Zeidler

Team Post Rock Post’s Top 10 Albums of 2021 So Far

Editor’s Note: We are fortunate enough to have our good friend Supratik Sarthak of wherepostrockdwells join us in the fun and present some of his favorite records of the first half of the year. If you’d like to dig more into wherepostrockdwells’ exhaustive encyclopedia of all things post-rock, feel free to browse their hugely expansive site Post-Pedia.

Eden’s Top 10

  1. Kaschalot Zenith
  2. Voronoi The Last Three Seconds
  3. HØST Kos
  4. Last HyenaHow Soon Is Mars?
  5. Infinity ShredEP002 (Recovery)
  6. BRUIT ≤The Machine is burning and now everyone knows it could happen again
  7. Felperc tsunami
  8. Ride The Waves Until You Reach The Shorewe are forsaken, we are doomed
  9. Heave Blood & DiePost People
  10. Sarin You Can’t Go Back

Nick’s Top 10

  1. BRUIT ≤The Machine is burning and now everyone knows it could happen again
  2. MountainscapeAcceptance
  3. MonobodyComma
  4. VoronoiThe Last Three Seconds
  5. HØSTKos
  6. MogwaiAs the Love Continues
  7. Last HyenaHow Soon Is Mars
  8. BaultaAnother Second Chance
  9. Yoo Doo RightDon’t Think You Can Escape Your Purpose
  10. Mekong AirlinesGran Telescopio

David’s Top 10

  1. BRUIT ≤ – The Machine is burning and now we know it can happen again
  2. Mogwai – As The Love Continues
  3. Go March – III
  4. Outlander – Sundowning / Unconditional
  5. Kaschalot – Zenith
  6. Baulta – Another Second Chance
  7. Lume – False Calm
  8. Secret Gardens – Tundra
  9. pictures of wild life – terrene
  10. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – G_d’s Pee at STATE’S END!

Trent’s Top 10

  1. BRUIT ≤The machine is burning and now everyone knows it could happen again
  2. Black Country, New RoadFor the first time
  3. Godspeed You! Black EmperorG_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END!
  4. Suffocate for Fuck SakeFyra
  5. Kaschalot Zenith
  6. WealCalm
  7. BlackshapeBlackshape
  8. BöiraCendres ~ Mineral
  9. RWYRDistance
  10. Yoo Doo RightDon’t Think You Can Escape Your Purpose

Supratik’s Top 10 (unranked)

Baulta – Another Second Chance
Those Who Ride With Giants – Forlorn
Genghis Tron – Dream Weapon
Nordsind – Lys
KAUAN – Ice Fleet
Ennoven – Empty Passes, Silent Trails
BRUIT ≤ – The Machine is burning and now everyone knows it could happen again
RWYR – Distance
Treebeard – Nostalgia

Eden Kupermintz

Published 3 years ago