Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Post-Rock 101: Aural Ecstacy

The term post-rock goes back to 1994, when music critic Simon Reynolds coined it in Mojo Magazine:

"Using rock instrumentation for non-rock purposes, using guitars as facilitators of timbre and textures rather than riffs and power chords." He further expounded on the term"

“Perhaps the really provocative area for future development lies... in cyborg rock; not the wholehearted embrace of Techno's methodology, but some kind of interface between real time, hands-on playing and the use of digital effects and enhancement. ”

There are obviously alot of differences between bands identified as post-rock (not all like being lumped in with each other) but here is my attempt at listing some of the key characteristics
a. Power chords replaced by timbre and texture on guitar; hence not focussed on rebellion
b. Use of repetition with subtle changes
c. Lengthy instrumental pieces which build up over timed.
d. If vocals are present they infrequent, soft and droning (Sigur Ros even use Hopelandic, a nonsensical language)
e. Abandonment of verse-chorus-verse structure in favor of soundscapese.
f. Use of the Krautrock 'motorik' beat

Here five bands to get you going;

1. Efterklang: Danish Band, Efterklang means remembrance and reverberation which desrcribes their sound, like the glitch sound beneath Radiohead's sound

2. Godspeed You Black Emperor: Massive orchestral sound with rock instruments, intoxicating if you can stick with it

3. Mogwai: One of the most important post-rock bands, guitar-based elaborations on a single theme, once wore tee-shirts with Blur are Shite on them (Blur were a Britpop band, the complete opposite of Mogwai)

4. Explosions in the Sky: very popular Texan band, proving the longevity of the movement

5. Tortoise: One of the prime forces behind the emergence of post-rock, sometimes jazz-infused
Image: Courtesy Play It Again Sam/Matador

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