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Post Rock Post // August 2023

As always, thank you for reading us. We all very much appreciate it. Let's dream together for a bit.

10 months ago

While I've mentioned it here and there on the blog, I've mostly kept the fact that I've moved to the United States out of any long-winded intros. Believe me when I say that this hasn't been for lack of things to say; I think you know by now that I am very rarely in that situation. Instead, I was saving that aforementioned long-winded intro for Post Rock Post because post-rock is perhaps the genre that most captures the overwhelming emotional state that I find myself in. In addition, I've used this intro, and the entries in the column itself, to talk about the uniqueness of the North American approach to post-rock many times and even spun that train of thought out to its own article.

Therefore, it only felt natural to wait until this column ran to say: I was absolutely right in my evaluation of the ties between the "largeness" of the US and the fact that so much post-rock is being made here. I haven't even ventured that far; I've been mostly in Providence and the area. And yet, the sheer amount of open and available space is imprinted on every fact of daily life in the US, for better or (in many case) the worse. There's a sense here of the sky never ending, of the endless bounty of the land (although, of course, we are discovering quickly that this bounty is not, in fact, endless). Nature is also that much more present, intermingling in ways that I didn't anticipate with urban reality.

All facts which have made me reach for post-rock and post metal all the more these last few weeks. There's something about the genres and what they do to your emotional make up that fits right in with the feeling of grandiosity that nature and space evoke in us. I won't reiterate my article here - simply read it for more thoughts on this. But now I've had the chance to feel these ideas in the flesh, feel my inner spaces react to the killer combination of post-rock and the open skies of the US. I'm planning a lot more travel in the next few months, some by choice and some by force, and I'm very much looking forward to fleshing these sensations out.

As always, thank you for reading us. We all very much appreciate it. Let's dream together for a bit.

-Eden Kupermintz

You, You’re Awesome (Top Picks)

Abriction - Interstates

Decorating a post-rock foundation with elements of shoegaze, blackgaze and midwest emo wrapped in a lo-fi bedroom aesthetic, Interstates has been one of the most refreshing listens in the genre this summer. Abriction is the solo-project of prolific American musician Meredith Salvatori, releasing 15 albums since their debut in 2019. While the majority of those came out in 2019 and 2020, these early releases ranged from lo-fi instrumental hip-hop beats to study to, hyperpop and some takes at an emo-post-rock sound. It wasn’t until earlier this year that they really broke out from the underground obscurity of bandcamp, releasing a self-titled split with acclaimed blackgaze artist Sadness. They've now kept that momentum going with their best solo-work to date in the form of the new album Interstates.

Along with Sadness, abriction is forging a niche micro-genre, bringing together black metal, shoegaze and post-rock through the lens of that aforementioned lo-fi aesthetic with raw, abrasive emotional sincerity. This application to fundamentally post-rock songwriting is a conduit for some sentimental and earnest passion. The production is slightly amateurish, but is all the better for it. This translates well through the use of retro, dungeon-synth keys, and Meredith’s viscerally connecting vocal performance. The blackened elements here are mostly in the form of those vocals, and while largely an instrumental experience, we’re also provided with a range of great clean singing and memorable melodies. The distant, layered almost ‘gang’ style vocals on 18-minute standout “Rose Gold” are reminiscent of the amazing screamo-gaze(?) band Life. With a Sunbather-ing balance of ethereal lushness and hypnotic walls of melancholy, it comes together for engaging moments of catharsis and heartfelt longing that can be lost to an over-polished and over-produced sound.  

To steer back to the post-rock, if you can’t tell by the 82-minute run-time and multiple 12+-minute songs, they understood the assignment of letting songs and moments build on themselves. They’re not afraid to take their time and repeat a riff until it feels like the emotional weight has been adequately carried, and any sort of climax is thoroughly earned. Some may find these stretched out sections to feel long-winded, but the careful layering of guitar tracks, multiple synth pads, angelic bells, and clever drumming keep this repetitious structuring from overstaying its welcome. Aiding this is the fact the riffs are simple yet incredibly effective at affecting, coming together with the vocals for a blissfully bleak product.

The post-rock guitar-work is broken up at times by some throwbacks to their early instrumental electronic beats such as on “Lost In the Rain” which gives a more depressing take at some of The American Dollar’s work. These moments align with the blurred horizons of the adequately emo-bedroom-pop aesthetic of the artwork, and hearken to senses of lonely yearning. Overall, Interstates should be palatable to a wide-range of listeners with their ability to bring together beauty, pain and nostalgia for an emotionally cathartic listen.  

-Trent Bos

Breaths - Floruit

I’ve made no secret of the fact that Lantlôs’s Wildhund is one of my favorite albums in recent memory, and based on comments I’ve received in our Discord and elsewhere, I know there are others who agree. What made that album so special was its rare blend of doomy shoegaze, bright riffage, and darker atmospheric post-rock. There have been few albums since or in the years preceding it that sound quite like it. All of which made me positively giddy the first time I heard Floruit from one-man band Breaths. It’s not only the closest thing I’ve encountered to the magic of Wildhund, but is a truly wonderful album on its own merits.

On his Bandcamp, Breaths brainchild Jason Roberts describes the project as “blackened doomgazey post-metal,” and that about sums it up. The music of Floruit is ponderous and at times excruciatingly heavy but with a healthy smattering of lightness originating from Roberts’s harmonized clean vocals and more hopeful guitar riffs. The run of “Winds of Change,” “The Summit,” and “Still In Dreams” serve as an ideal trifecta that lay out the fundamentals of this combination at work. Alternating between crushing guitars with blackened screams and major chord-laden passages that elevate the mood, Floruit is a perfect study in contrasts and how dark and light tones can serve to emphasize each end of the spectrum.

Remarkably for an album that spans over an hour, Breaths never overstays its welcome as it keeps the fun going at a thrill a minute throughout. For every heavy hitting track like “We See You” and “The Walking Dead,” there’s another like the lighter touches of “Squander,” “Gone Mad,” and “Flourish,” the latter of which, while still heavy as hell, is still there to triumphantly lift the mood even as Roberts croons about the destruction of the planet and our seeming inability to do anything to prevent it. That tension lies at the very heart of the album, which Roberts states “is a doomgaze soundtrack to the end of the world, a concept album based on the idea that all of humanity’s accomplishments throughout history have ultimately led to our demise and that of the planet on which we live.”

There is so much beauty and success to celebrate around us, but rather than build something sustainable that will create future success for generations to come, our greed all but guarantees that the system will come crumbling down upon us. In that sense Floruit is an ode as much as a eulogy, a fitting combination for an album that explores the corners of post-rock’s power in throwing blinding light and blinding darkness upon the listener.

-Nick Cusworth

Scapohid - Echoes of the Rift

Having already written in length about this album, I wanted to draw attention to what keeps me coming back to it. Even though previous Scaphoid releases were intricate enough, there's something in Echoes of the Rift which really elevates it into new layers of complexity. I think the secret lies in the fact that, more than ever before, the complexity has "transcended" the instrumental compositions towards emotional compleixty. Simply put, Echoes of the Rift feels a lot more subtle with it's trying to convey, mixing melancholy, action, determination, introspection and more into a fascinating emotive tapestry.

Check out the second track, "Gloom", for a good example. There are so many different movements, each with their own feel, on this five and a half minute track. From the opening, melancholic opening passage that belies the track's name, through the more progressive and intricate middle parts of the track, and all the way to the chuggy, heavier, more prounced final segment, "Gloom" dedicates the same amount of love and attention to all of its sounds. Because of that, each segment feels as put together as the others and the parts are allowed to merge into a grander whole, creating one track which holds more ground covered than many albums in the same vein do.

This means that I've been able to come back to the album again and again over the last few weeks since its release. It's not just that the compositions themselves hold a lot to be discovered; it's also that the album holds a lot of different "emotional perspectives" which it can communicate to you and find you in. As such, this is a true step up for Scaphoid, marking a maturation from "simply" a talented musician into a rare one.

-EK

The Endless Shimmering (Other Notable Releases) 

Astroverse Dimensions - Feeding on the Spirit

Okay, stick with me here. Remember that Smashmouth album Astro Lounge? The one with the terrible/amazing artwork that can only be described as late 90s future-core (everything was very shiny and poorly-rendered)? I’m pretty sure this is the album that would actually be played in said Astro Lounge. It’s got some synthy pastiche to it – distorted and extremely German voiceovers and all – and it heavily features some kind of theremin patch for extra spook. But it also grooves like a motherfucker and makes me want to dance around like an idiot. I guess imagine the space fusion of TAUK but with less jazz and more trip-hop influence, breakbeats, and riffs. If weirdo instrumental prog is up your alley, then Feeding on the Spirit is really gonna float your boat, or spaceship, as it were.

-NC

Bear the Mammoth - Purple Haus

Melbourne’s Bear the Mammoth released one of my favorite post- releases of 2018 with their previous effort Years Under Glass. It was a confident, muscular album filled with huge ideas and lush compositions. So it’s no surprise that their follow-up in Purple Haus has likewise impressed. Taking a silkier, more synth-laden approach, Purple Haus is a trip through tantalizing textures, triumphant build-ups and climaxes, and progressive-leaning compositional twists. It also features some of their straight-up heaviest work to date, as “Freshwater” absolutely blows the lid off with its grinding and cyclical ascending riff, and “Eugene” takes on the kind of dark and mysterious hue we haven’t heard from the group before.

As with all of the best work of the genre, there is an efficiency to the music that does not waste the space it takes up. instead always either propelling itself towards some new height or conversing with itself in response, as the more serene tracks like “Rubon Cube” still manage to alternate between . They may not be as much of a household name in the Australian post-rock scene as the likes of sleepmakeswaves, but Bear the Mammoth absolutely deserve to be discussed in the same conversation as their Aussie peers.

-NC

Eden Kupermintz

Published 10 months ago