Even among the many columns which I contribute to or spearhead on the blog (count them, it’s a lot), Post Rock Post remains my favorite. Part of it is because it’s the column that Nick and I started and it was, if my memory serves me right, the first one. Part of it is because I love Trent and David and how much they broaden my musical horizons. But I think, at the end, it comes down to the longevity of this post and how long I’ve been listening to some of the bands listed on here. As Trent mentions in the below interview, he discovered Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster in 2015. That’s six years ago! I think I discovered RANGES around that time. As time goes by, these bands have become intertwined with so many memories and it’s always a pleasure to get to hear from them again.
Of course, this is true for other genres. But there’s something about the communality of post rock, and how we’ve managed to reach out to and connect with that community, that makes those ties even more emotionally powerful and a joy to revisit. Alongside the new music this column introduces me to, it also makes me feel grounded, connected, and among friends and what more important feelings are there in the ongoing and unfolding disaster we call “our times”? Post Rock Post then, no matter how long, inundated with submissions, precise, or unspooling it is, always feels like coming home, like visiting with friends from some of which I haven’t heard in a long time and some of which were just over for a cup of tea or a beer. In short, it feels damn good and I hope you feel the same about it. Without further ado, here’s this month’s Post Rock Post! Thanks for hanging out with us and our friends.
Take Me Somewhere Nice: Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster
One of the coolest things about post-rock is how many forms it can take. Heavy and brooding, light and whimsical, dark and electronic? You’ve got it. Given the name of this blog, when a band brings the riffs, we are all for it. If you’ve been around the heavier side of the post-rock world for some time you may have heard of Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster. The London based four-piece have been around since 2009, and this August brought us their fourth full-length The World Inside. The follow up to the fantastic Wires / Dreams \ Wires sees them continue to write striking post-rock that can hit you as hard in the emotions as it does with its physicality.
For a band named after a 1940s catastrophic engineering failure, their work has held up incredibly sturdily and been consistent as hell. With The World Inside their sound has shifted slightly from the more atmospheric sludge metal influenced approach of their earlier work, to a smoother progressive feel. Now almost entirely instrumental, they let their story unfold through their dynamic and adventurous song-writing. Comparisons could be made from If These Trees Could Talk to even Tool in the way they build and structure both their riffs and songs. The blending of the soft and ethereal with the sharp and jagged.
Songs like “Apocryphal” travel the entire ride from deeply introspective atmospheric post-rock riffing to explosive Russian Circles heaviness that grabs a hold of you. Those sort of cathartic pay offs this genre does so well. It forces you to live in that moment with it. It’s what makes music like this such an entrancing live experience. The warm bass tones and relatively bright production ties everything together when it needs to be soothing and satisfying, or to be bold and deliver a punch.
We were fortunate to have all four members of the band sit down and answer a few questions, offering insight about their history as a band, how this album came together, and more. The World Inside is out now through POST. RECORDINGS, available on CD and vinyl.
Heavy Blog Is Heavy: I first discovered you back in 2015 with the release of Wires / Dreams \ Wires. It’s been six years now since that release, have there been any significant changes in the band, or your writing process since that release?
Tom Granica: Well, quite a lot actually. For a start Alex and Adam have left the band right after the W/D\W came out (as always in this band things like that are timed to a perfection – usually right after a release) – and Drew and myself were on the verge of throwing in the towel. But we decided to try to find replacements, and miraculously, both Ben and Andrea were the very first and only people we’ve seen and ‘auditioned’. As for writing – things tend to change and morph from the original ideas a lot more now – the whole process is a lot more long-winded and more refinements are done. This leads to a more thought through, polished compositions, but can also result in tensions and clashes.
Drew Vernon: In 2015 we finished up W/D\W and did some great shows, and then Adam (previous guitarist) and Alex (previous drummer) left the band. We didn’t know if we were going to continue or not. But we persevered, found Andrea and Ben, and since then we’ve found our footing again. The writing process is a bit different, but the outcome is quite different just based on the fact that we brought in two people who play and think about music in different ways.
Ben Wilsker: I moved to London, looked for a band, found an ad from these nerds, checked out their work & wanted some of that. We played the songs, jammed a lot, and created an album together in what naturally felt like an organic & original manner.
HBIH: Were these songs written over the course of those six years, or were they a more recent development? Did the pandemic have a significant impact in this process?
TG: When Andrea and Ben joined the band we didn’t really write anything for the first few months – it was more about getting the guys up to speed with the older stuff and familiar with the band’s sound. After that initial period we started writing, and I’d say in total it took just over three years to write everything. In fact all of this stuff was recorded two summers ago and was due to be released earlier, but then COVID came along.
DV: I started writing little riffs and melodies very early on. But we spent a fair chunk of time just getting comfortable with one another and establishing a vibe. We started recording the album in 2019. The pandemic hit, and in a way this gave us a bit more time to finish things up, refine the mixes, cross the T’s and dot the I’s as it were. It was stressful not being able to launch it immediately the moment it was done, but I think it’s all worked out for the best.
BW: We didn’t focus fully on writing for some time, we concentrated on playing together as a band and when we felt ready we started recording jams and making demos which we used to refine our ideas and turn them into the album.
Andrea Longo: The songs were written during the first 3 years. We spent the remaining time with the recording and mixing processes. Being Drew the only engineer dealing with that massive amount of work, it took a long time. The pandemic then forced us to push the release to a time where playing live shows was possible again.
HBIH: I’ve noticed a bit more progressive metal elements on this album compared to your earlier works, was this a concerted, intentional shift in your song-writing? Did that come about naturally from the style of music you’ve been listening to yourselves?
TG: It definitely wasn’t intentional. We never really sit down and have conversations about how we want to sound – it all tends to happen naturally and organically. I think the more progressive sounds stems from from several things. Firstly, I love a more progressive sound – my favourite bands are very progressive. I also always wanted to introduce synths into the mix. Secondly – Ben as a drummer seems a lot more in sync with the bass as well as more prog orientated – this results in a much tighter rhythm section, which isn’t necessarily associated with Post music but is a big part of prog. Thirdly, and he might not agree with it but Andrea is also bringing a more of a progressive feel to it – he is heavily influenced by the likes of David Gilmour at least in his playing, and that definitely shines through and adds to the proggy feel.
DV: There’s always a balancing act of influences and different musical directions. For me it wasn’t a concerted effort to go in that direction. Actually my writing on this new stuff has been much more reactive than in the past. In the past I would send around pretty much fully fleshed out song ideas to the rest of the band which we would then iterate on over and over again until we felt it was right. It put me in the position of leading the songwriting in many cases. But with this album it’s been much more collaborative and there are parts and sections that I never would have written by myself.
BW: The band’s previous work, our input & influence as individuals, and Drew’s epic studio skills give the album that sound. I actually prefer Funk.
AL: I reckon that Tom and Ben have a natural prog attitude and that in fact is what makes this new album more progressive compared to the previous works. Previously, from what I’ve heard in the records, Alex, the previous drummer, was mostly following the guitars, so the result was more metal sounding. With the guitars we didn’t write anything that is strictly proggy I believe.
HBIH: You’ve been fortunate enough to be able to return to live shows recently, what has that experience been like? Has there been a difference in the energy you sense from the crowds as they’re able to finally see live music again?
TG: It’s actually been great. It felt really good to play live again. It has been around two years since our last show so I was a little bit apprehensive and nervous about playing. But on the day it felt great. The crowd and turnout was very good too, and even though there were not as many people as there normally would be on a live show, the liveliness and support of the crowd definitely made up for it.
DV: We played our album launch show recently, which was a matinee show on a Saturday afternoon. I didn’t know if we’d pull it off or not, but an amazing time was had by the band, and speaking to people after the show it sounds like they loved having the chance to forget about all this pandemic nonsense and just go and see some good music again. It felt like a small family reunion in some ways, where everyone came together to really celebrate the release. It didn’t feel like just an average rock show to me.
BW: It felt great to gig after 2 years. Performing with your mates, playing to a crowd who are up for it, and having a great time. What’s not to love?! We were in the crowd too, watching the support band and feeling the vibes. It’s great to be back on it.
AL: I thought I would have been very tense and frightened after such a long time. It worked very differently instead. I was feeling comfortable and I felt like it was a liberating experience. People reacted really well and everything seemed like it was in the good old days prior to the pandemic.
HBIH: You’ve dialed back the vocals since Exegesis, but still seem to like to sneak in one song with vocals on your releases, do you set out intentionally to do this, or just find after the fact that certain songs fit better with vocals? Is there a need to voice your vision or thoughts into lyrics?
DG: Sometimes lyrics come to me, in the most random places. Like on ‘Passing’ on W/D\W, they seemed to come to me constantly when walking this one particular road near my house. I don’t think we set out to reduce the amount of vocals, it just kind of went that way when Dylan (the vocalist on Exegesis) left the band. We tried out other vocalists, but nothing ever really clicked. So in the end I picked up the mantle. And I like to keep the focus on the music, and have just enough vocals to hint at the concept or theme we’re building up.
HBIH: The World Inside seems to have your brightest, and arguably best production to date. How important is production quality to you as a band, or is that more linked to the specific sound that you’re going for?
TG: I think production quality is a very important aspect of our sound and of the progressive genre in general. The music is often dense and there is quite a lot of detail, and being able to pick out that detail is a big part of the listening experience. The production quality on this record is largely if not only down to Drew and his knowledge of recording and mixing. Yes, we all had production ideas for our individual instruments, and made suggestions, but none of this would have been done anywhere near the level it is if it wasn’t for Drew. And same goes for previous albums, and I guess what you see here is a very obvious learning curve.
DV: The production is very important and I think in the past I was a little too obsessed with finishing it quickly so we could get music out and get playing shows. But this time around I took my time, and treated it with the respect that a creative endeavour really deserves. I think it came out very well. With this album I wanted a kind of futuristic edge to it, less of a straight up rock or metal sound. There’s a load of stuff we did – particularly on the bass – that really stand out on this record.
BW: Obviously, Drew’s a studio wizard. We totally took advantage of having an awesome studio at our disposal. But also the quality we set out to achieve, and the performances given in the studio contributed, a bit.
AL: Drew certainly improved his skills as producer and engineer. I think the production quality is really important for the final result of this record. There are many ear-candies along the album and I think it’s crucial that everything is distinguishable and clear.
HBIH: As someone with a bit of a fascination with engineering disasters, does the actual Tacoma Narrows bridge collapse hold a certain significance with any of you? Or is it as simple as it just made for a cool sounding band name?
TG: If I’m honest, I never heard of it before this band name was brought to the table haha. And at first I didn’t really like it, but I have grown fond of it over the years.
DV: When we started the band and we were thinking of a name, this popped up more as a joke. But everyone liked it, and since we all liked math, physics, geometry and things like that, it ended up sticking. To this day people still ask us why we chose it, and a lot of people think we’re American because of it!!
BW: I was unaware of the collapse so when I saw the band name I didn’t really think about it. I listened to the music and loved it, then looked into the bridge collapse and understood the resonance of its meaning.
HBIH: If there was one feeling or lasting impression you hope people take away from listening to The World Within, what is it?
DV: For me, what we’re trying to say with this album is (and this is directed at myself as much as anyone else)… look here… there’s this entire world of subjectivity that we’ve chosen to ignore. Everyone is so focused on being right and right on about everything, that careful reflection and contemplation just get thrown out the window. We’re all happy to swim in the cesspool of social media where everyone gets to pretend that they’re the big I.AM … but it’s just making us smaller, as individuals, as people, and as a society. For me specifically, the older I get and the more family orientated I get, the more I think about the stoic principle of focusing on things that you can actually control, rather than obsessing about things that are out of your control.
AL: After listening to TWI I wish people will have more doubts than strong opinions. We’re living an era with an exorbitant amount of information. Our music in this album is reflecting this situation. We don’t know where truth is, we’re looking for it while we’re trying to filter the huge amount of false truths.
HBIH: And finally, in Heavy Blog tradition I’m required to ask: how do you take your eggs? :)
TG: Thats a tough questions, as I like a variety, but if I had to chose i’d say soft boiled.
DV: Fried. With bacon, toast, beans, sausage, and coffee.
BW: With bacon.
AL: Scrambled (salt and pepper)
You, You’re Awesome (Top Picks)
RANGES – Cardinal Winds
“More of the same” is usually meant in a derogatory way but honestly, that often reveals the impatience of the person saying it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s true in some cases; it takes great skill to keep doing a certain thing for a long time, slowly developing it over the years without becoming repetitive and stagnant. But that’s just it: it takes skill. So when someone gives you “more of the same”, you should try asking: why are they doing this? Are they just out of ideas? Or are they honing their craft? Too often we judge before we even ask this question, just immediately discarding something because we’ve heard or seen something like it before. The constant chase after the new can, many times, lead us astray from some truly magnificent art. This is especially pertinent and clear in the case of post-rock: many have decided to simply discard the entire genre because “it’s doing the same thing”, without spending the time to try to separate the artists who are stale and those who are spending time developing a deeper understanding of their music, their strengths, and their direction.
RANGES definitely belong to that latter category. If we were to look at their music from a mile above, we could make the hastily and erroneous statement that it’s all the same. But RANGES makes music for the patient, for the passionate, for those who are willing to fall from a mile up into the ground itself, only to then be whisked back up again into the sky. Cardinal Winds is, in a sense, that motion perfected. Don’t get me wrong; The Ascensionist was plenty dramatic. But Cardinal Winds is in a league of its own, something which is apparent from the very first track on it. RANGES have dug deeper during this release and brought forth the most monumental, far-sweeping and exciting version of their music we’ve heard yet.
In many ways, this excitement is created by the contrast between the “cardinal” track (“North”, “East”, “West”, and “South”). They all start with this weird sound, like a tape being rolled back or a disc exchanged by an automatic arm. This sound, and the ambience of the tracks, ties them all together and creates a very subtle second thread which runs through the album. Their ambience is, probably, meant to mimic the different directions for which they’re named and, perhaps, the winds that blow from them. Thus, “North” is cold and foreboding whereas “East” has something of the rising sun to it, a slowly building glory that washes over us. I’ll leave the other two tracks for your interpretation but suffice it to say that these tracks are more than “just” transitions or interludes.
When you focus on this second thread, it keys you up for the “main” tracks on the album. Take, for example, the amazing tension between “East” and “Cardinal Winds”, the titular track from the album. There’s something of “East” in the far-flung, moving riffs of the track, most especially perhaps in the way the leads “crest” those riffs, like the slowly building and somber tone crests the ambience in “East”. If the preceding interlude is the light of the sun just over the horizon then “Cardinal Winds” is the sun breaking above the ground, shining its light full in your eyes, overwhelming you with the love only solar bodies can exude. This tension is maintained elsewhere on the album: “West”, for example, has this undulating synth sound to it that runs through “Solace” which follows it, lending both the interlude and the “main” track a somber and melancholic feeling which works incredibly well with the rest of the track (listen carefully to how this emotion is resolved on this track; it’s one of the best moments on the album).
All told, Cardinal Winds is RANGES’ most intricate album yet, as well as the most moving and momentous. It has structure written all over it, showcasing the band at their most subtle and clever yet. And that’s the beauty of repetition, yes? That’s the power of a skilled craftsperson staying at their task, over and over and over again, until the work is perfect, until the work is sublime, until the work is all that it can be! If RANGEs continue on this path, I think we haven’t seen the summit yet (get it?) But even if they were to put their instruments down tomorrow and never play again (god protect us against such an option), Cardinal Winds would stand resplendent as one of the most beautiful and richly rewarding post-rock albums I’ve heard. It is a testimony to a band in tune with what they’ve sounded like, what they sound like, and what they might, one day, if they stay the course, be able to sound like.
Enjoy Eternal Bliss (Best of the Rest)
Appellative – Everything I Didn’t Say (David)
I can’t believe how many solo artists I’ve covered so far this year; at this point I can no longer make my usual claim that most multi-instrumentalist efforts are myopic and one-dimensional. Already this year I’ve covered sonhos tomam conta, pictures of wild life, Thought Trials, and Secret Gardens, while Trent has also covered a fantastic release from Hereafter. And now here I am with yet another wildly impressive solo effort, this time from the Australian artist Appellative. I don’t know if the technology has just gotten that much better, or if current musicians are learning from the past mistakes of their musically-isolated peers, but these albums are all sounding more and more like multi-person efforts and I’m here for that, because when vision meets capability amazing things can happen. Everything I Didn’t Say is a great example of that, a really easy listen at seven tracks/twenty-seven minutes, breezing by with virtually no downtime or dull sections, equal parts heavy, melodic, emotional, upbeat, and consistently engaging. It would all be for naught if mastermind Zachary Wattus lacked a deft hand in the mixing/mastering department, but thankfully he keeps things sounding crisp without crossing into overproduction. There was once a time when there was Cloudkicker and then there was every other solo artist, but 2021 has demonstrated how that window is swiftly closing. Consider me officially on board.
Lantlôs – Wildhund (Eden)
I am not this world’s biggest shoegaze and, as a direct result, not this world’s biggest blackgaze fan. But even I like Lantlôs, especially the cult classic Melting Sun. So when I heard that the group was releasing a new album, I was definitely intrigued. When I heard that the black metal side of things was gone and that this album was pure shoegaze, my interest fell a bit. But then people who are also not the biggest shoegaze fans started getting really excited about it while shoegaze fans started losing their minds over it so I thought I’d give it a chance. I instantly fell in love and it might be because Wildhund doesn’t really sound like any shoegaze album I’ve heard of. I mean, I’m sure it’s out there; as I said, it’s not really my speciality.
But regardless, Wildhund just sounds unique, completely in its own sphere. Whether it’s the weirdly major and upbeat scales, the score of weird electronics which run throughout it, the vocals or just the incredibly momentum filled structure, Wildhund is one of the most energetic albums I’ve ever heard. It just sweeps you off your feet, starting with the excellent “Lake Fantasy” (probably the best track on the album but certainly not the only great one) with its robust groove section and relentless beat and just moves on from there. It’s also beautifully written from a lyrical perspective, thinking about interesting ideas from interesting directions, with its own share of idiosyncrasies and special metaphors. In short, it’s an album to dive into, eschewing much of the “surface level disinterest” feeling that other shoegaze has always given me.
The Endless Shimmering (Other Notable Releases)
BLAK – El Tall d’Escila-la (post-rock, post-metal)
Ephilexia – This Rare Cow Killed Someone (post-rock, math rock)
Sky Flying By – Transformation as a Survival Tactic (ambient post-rock)
Lesotho – Summer Wars (post-rock, post-metal)
Non Somnia – Stella Meae (post-rock, neo-classical)
Skin Thief – Dust (progressive post-metal, stoner rock)
Theos – Precognitive (post-rock, post-metal)
Some Became Hollow Tubes – Unhealthy For Sensitive Groups (noise, drone, experimental)
Wozniak – Bruises (post-rock, instrumental shoegaze)
Endname – Anthropomathy (instrumental post-metal)
Conejo Esquizoide – Kyon (post-rock, prog, math-rock)