Greetings, and welcome to another edition of Post Rock Post! Even though these past two months felt a bit lean for post-rock (don’t forget the blog sort of imploded

20 days ago

Greetings, and welcome to another edition of Post Rock Post! Even though these past two months felt a bit lean for post-rock (don’t forget the blog sort of imploded last month, so we’re running a double edition this time around) the crop on hand from the sub-genre ended up looking pretty good. This feeling of “leanness” also reminded me that post-rock was one of the first genres that taught me that it’s OK to stop listening to a certain sound and then come back to it, perhaps years later. This appears to be something that people struggle with; I am constantly reading posts from people lamenting their dying passion for a certain genre. I always want to tell them that it’s OK, that nothing is final, that moods and tastes come and go and that they can feel free to leave a certain style of music. The worst that can happen is that they don’t come back but, at least I’ve found, that it’s more likely than not that they will come back to it one day.

With post-rock, I’m in one of those lower points right now. Even putting new music aside, I just don’t seem to go to post-rock (or metal) lately when I’m looking for something to listen to. Maybe I just need things that are more direct right now; maybe I’m not as introspective or melancholy these days. Whatever it might be, it’s great to be able to still engage with the releases that I do enjoy from the sub-genre these days (assisted of course by the members of this column) instead of just chucking them out wholesale. Even if my heart doesn’t beat faster and tears don’t flow from my eyes for every post-rock release I hear (which is definitely the case when the mood for the genre strikes me), I can still enjoy the higher-echelon releases that are made within it.

With that being said, we have some truly excellent albums for you this time around, some of them from established veterans and some of them from lesser known acts that are just as exciting. So, wherever you find yourself with the post-rock genre these days, pleas enjoy these releases. We’ll see you next time. And the one after that.

You, You’re Awesome (Top Picks)

Russian CirclesGnosis

When a band has a career as long as Russian Circles, there develop multiple “things” they become known for and, therefore, more and more avenues they could pursue when releasing a new album. In the case of Russian Circles, the band have a host of weapons at their belt: they could go for the more atmospheric vibes of their mid-era releases, return to the crushing and monolithic sounds of their earlier career, or continue to develop the groove and faster pace we saw shining through the last few albums. Gladly, for this writer at least, Russian Circles have decided to use Gnosis to remind everyone, themselves included possibly, why they are credited as one of the progenitors of post-metal. Gnosis is definitely the band’s heaviest album of the last few years and perhaps even the heaviest of their career.

It’s not just that the riffs are big and slow; that has never been “just” the case with Russian Circles. It’s also that their tonality, something that Russian Circles are known as experts in crafting, is once again darker. Eschewing some of the more scintillating, “open” sounds that Russian Circles have turned to as counter-weight on the past few releases, Gnosis delves deep into the murkiest and “deepest” of the Russian Circle arsenal, bringing forth some truly vicious riffs. “Conduit”, the second track, is probably the best example. Its opening riff, which also ushers the track through all of its different phases, is probably the most pissed off, dare I say even thrashy, that we’ve heard Russian Circles. It’s fast but still holds onto the band’s iconic wall of sound production, creating a truly desolate and iron-clad feel. Pay special attention to what the bass on this track, as it thumps and grumbles alongside the riff, adding heft to it, while taking the verses as opportunities to explore around the track’s main theme.

The title track which follows this aural assault is more contemplative and “lean”, of course. Russian Circles are still a band firmly rooted in the “post” areas of music and, as such, the introspective still has pride of place. But this rooting is used by the band on Gnosis as a jumping off point not “up” (into crescendo-core realms or more ambient genres still) but rather “down”, into the realms of the industrial, the oil-well of thick guitars, pummeling drums, and earth-breaking bass. Just check out what ends up happening with that title track and the absolutely vicious riffs which ends up closing the track. This added heaviness and attack makes Gnosis recognizably Russian Circles, appealing to any fan of the band, but also especially appealing to those of us who loved Russian Circles for the depth of their tones and impact. Gnosis hits hard and keeps hitting, driving its dark, somber stake straight into your heart.

417.3 – 40

Post-rock has the ability to feel like an engine churning along, like an old steam locomotive’s pistons oscillating back-and-forth as the massive vehicle gains momentum. But there’s no set destination nor captain announcing stops here, this is the sort of motor that takes you wherever your imagination lets you. The shifting moods and driving song-writing that this instrumental post-rock group from Russia have crafted here are ripe for interpretation and letting your mind wander. 40 is the fourth full-length from the numerically bound 417.3 since their debut in 2011, a band name which unfortunately has no deeper significance. Being moderately familiar with their previous efforts I knew roughly what I was getting into this release, but I did not expect it to floor me the way 40 has, with this easily being among their best work to date and some of the more unique and interesting post-rock I’ve heard this year.

The first thing that really stands out here is the almost hypnotic, percussion-driven focus of their songwriting which is refreshing among all the guitar-centric acts out there of the more strictly rock-instrumentation post-rock groups. Combined with largely clean textural guitar tones, their sound frequently builds to something of a tribal-like drone not too unlike the Brazilian experimental black metal group Kataayra‘s latest offering (but with less blast beats, sadly). Given the percussive nature of this release, it does a lot with repetition. Gradually building up simple riffs with interesting rhythmic patterns while the intensity of everything slowly rises. Before you’re really able to grasp what’s happening, the tracks have grabbed a hold of you and you’re at the whim of their shifting dynamics and powerful atmosphere. The shimmering textures throughout wash over you like waves of an approaching tide that you have no choice but to let consume you.

There’s really nothing flashy nor overly dramatic about their style of post-rock, but there’s an efficiency in these 6 tracks spanning over 48-minutes that is simply compelling. Going back to that engine metaphor, once you get caught up in the constant motion of things here it’s hard to stop its momentum from carrying you away. For a release that relies so much on repetition in its crafting, it oddly doesn’t feel all that…repetitive. The tracks bring enough shifts of tempo, with “46” near the backend being a particularly slower and bassier affair and the closer itself being almost all ambient, droney guitar effects pedal work. Fans of the rhythmic, textural and percussive aspects of post-rock, and well, music in general, should find this a worthwhile journey to get lost in.

-Trent Bos

Enjoy Eternal Bliss (Best of the Rest)

DAVID’S LIGHTNING ROUND

After Nations – The Endless Mountain

Although these artists all have their own unique takes on instrumental music, I was greeted by a similar feeling the first time I listened to After Nations that I had upon initial encounters with Poly-math and Lazer/wulf nearly a decade ago. Like those bands’ works at the time, The Endless Mountain is powerful, assertive, and feels like it’s bursting with joyous creative energy. The most apt comparison sonically is probably the djent-drenched prog-metal/post-rock of Cloudkicker, but heavier on the prog and lighter on the atmospherics. High-level stuff that definitely deserves your undivided attention.

David Zeidler

ghostmarket – wastelands

This Portland, Oregon solo artist kicks things off with influences seemingly embroidered directly on his sleeve, as opening track “They Went A.W.O.L” bears more than a passing resemblance to late-2000’s/early-2010’s Explosions In The Sky and Caspian. And I’ll admit, if that routine is executed properly, my ears are wide open to see where it goes. However, as wastelands moves forward it also opens up quite a bit. Things get fuzzier and more slightly edgier right away on the following track “surprise surprise.” From there – especially with song titles like “Eating Things For Money” and “Sweating To The Oldies,” it becomes clearer that this isn’t going to be the stony-faced, painfully endearing slog that post-rock can sometimes become when its performers take themselves way too seriously. There is plenty of strong emotional engagement happening here, as well as the requisite sweeping cresendoes (and don’t let me pretend like I don’t enjoy that kind of thing), but it’s also a consistently enjoyable journey that goes to several unexpected places. This includes a decidedly rad instrumental cover of a Vic Chestnutt song, which I certainly did not see coming.

DZ

Golden Hymns Sing “Hurrah” – To The Partisan, Now & Forever/Tape Reel Burnout

Knock me all you’d like for inconsistency, because I’m moving from praising an album for not falling into the trap of taking itself too seriously directly into praising a band that clearly takes their concept very seriously. New York City’s Golden Hymns Sing “Hurrah” definitely swing for the fences every time out, with the same kinds of “that was a mouthful” song titles and high-concept thematics that Godspeed You! Black Emperor has long been known for. They are also clearly aiming at a similar type of sonic grandiosity, and if they don’t always reach the levels they’re shooting for, ask yourself: “who does?” I admire this band for their ambition, as well as their ability to get pretty damn close to pulling it off. And honestly, while I regard GY!BE with the respect they deserve, I’ve also been pretty vocal about my distaste for the more meandering elements of their songwriting. Golden Hymns at least keep it a bit tighter, which I appreciate. “To The Partisan, Now & Forever” is a dreamy walkabout that hints at some darker edges, but largely remains in a more tranquil space that keeps feeling like it’s about to cross over into “second half of Smashing Pumpkins ‘Drown’” territory, but ultimately stays its own course. “Tape Reel Burnout” is where this release really hits its stride, though, especially once it kicks into an energetic gallop that brings it through to its conclusion. Golden Hymns is a band that not many people seem to know, but they carry themselves like a band everyone should know, and for that alone they deserve your attention.

DZ

Greyflood – Listen Carefully, There Are Those Who Suffer Quietly

Okay, okay, so maybe these guys do lean a bit too heavily into hyper-endearing overdramatics. Perhaps they’re about 15 years late to be launching themselves as if we were still in the thick of the American post-rock renaissance of the early-to-mid 2000’s and haven’t yet heard this type of thing countless times. But as I said previously, if you can at least do it well, I’ve got my ears open. And aside from feeling like it’s been lifted directly out of the Modern Post-Rock 101 textbook, Listen Carefully, There Are Those Who Suffer Quietly (I know, I know…) is actually a really well-assembled collection.

Alright, that’s all the snark I’m going to put directly upon Greyflood, now I’ll get on to the album itself and why I was compelled to write about it. When I put together these mini-reviews, it’s the culmination of hours spent on Bandcamp listening to at least a piece of every post-rock release from the previous month. So, let me be the one to tell you: if you value your sanity, don’t do what I just described. For every band like Greyflood that might be a little generic but at least sound like they know what they’re doing, there are 20 artists that are every bit as unoriginal but sound infinitely shittier. Once you’ve experienced that, you come back to a band like Greyflood that at least seems to have taken the time to actually get their album mixed and mastered by a professional, and you think to yourself “perhaps I was too hard on these lads.” And after working through what was for all intents and purposes a hideous stretch of August releases, I realized that this band deserves a bit more kindness.

Listen, I think I’ve already established that whatever this band is doing, you’ve heard it before in some capacity, but if you like this kind of thing (which I assume you do if you’re reading the Post Rock Post), then you’re likely to find yourself enjoying this EP. The melodies are pretty, the soundscapes evocative, and there’s a liveliness and a consistent forward motion to the songwriting that I appreciate. And if you’re comparing them to Explosions in the Sky (like I did at the beginning of this review), then you’re at least kind of an asshole for insinuating a band that debuted in 2021 should either release something as accomplished as one of the genre’s most important artists or take a hike. So I’ll take the L on that to a small degree and say that Listen Carefully, There Are Those Who Suffer In Silence is a well-made post-rock album by a band that have clearly done their homework, have a firm grasp on what they want to do, and have the potential to become a name to keep an eye on in future years.

DZ

se bueno – clouds

When you’re dealing with hyper-prolific solo artists, you kind of have to accept that you can never know what to expect, and that you’ve got to take the bad with the good if you plan to continue digging in. Madrid’s se bueno has four releases since June, a breakbeat-heavy happy hardcore album, an electronics-laced, punk energy-driven instrumental rock album, an album called poop noise for 13 minutes (which thankfully isn’t as advertised), and the album which stood out most for me, a deft blend of shoegaze, post-rock, dream pop, kraut rock, and electronics called clouds. The EP opens on the 12-minute title track, which makes a memorable, ever-evolving impression through the constantly thickening layers of guitars and synth that accompany a steady beat supplying the passionately beating heart of the song. The artwork for the album features a simple but striking piece of impressionist art, and “clouds” mirrors that aesthetic beautifully, ultimately standing as one of the most intoxicating, dreamlike journeys I’ve taken through music this year. There are three tracks after “clouds” that are absolutely worth listening to as well, and honestly, pretty much everything se bueno has released this summer is at the very least interesting enough to check out. But I’m here specifically because I feel like I need to make others aware of this gorgeous, starry-eyed epic, which currently stands as one of my favorite songs of 2022.

DZ

The Endless Shimmering (Other Notable Releases)

Somos Humanos Somos Humanos (post-hardcore/post-rock)

Square Peg Round HoleReservoir (experimental, post-rock, electronic)

PijnWeave In (single) (post-rock, post-metal, progressive)

ruletaEP (post-rock, heavygaze)

distanceeverything in exchange for nothing (post-rock, post-metal)

Snowfall Los AngelesVostok (Experimental, Noise, Drone, Post-Rock)

HOW CREATIVEHardcore Dignity (math-rock, post-rock, experimental, solo artist)

BokhuDual (post-rock, post-metal)

Eden Kupermintz

Published 20 days ago