This travelogue concludes a week of post rock coverage with a round up of upcoming releases, recent discoveries, and missed gems spanning a wide variety of styles – atmospheric, playful, emotional, and heavy, or in some cases all of the above. Listen, discover, and enjoy.
We Lost the Sea – Departure Songs
Featured track: ‘A Gallant Gentleman’
We Lost the Sea are a six-piece progressive post-rock band from Sydney Australia. Following the tragic loss of a member of the band who sang their lead vocals, they have emerged with a purely instrumental album most eloquently described in their own words:
Departure Songs is inspired by failed, yet epic and honourable journeys or events throughout history where people have done extraordinary things for the greater good of those around them, and the progress of the human race itself. Each song has it’s own story and is a soundtrack to that story…It’s slightly bleak with shimmers of hope and layers of emotion. It’s a tribute and a catharsis of emotion and honesty.
The band has released the first single from the record, ‘A Gallant Gentleman’, based on the story the story of an army captain and explorer who sacrificed himself for the survival of his team on an Antarctic expedition. It is a beautifully constructed and deeply affecting post rock opus greatly enhanced by the simultaneously haunting and comforting voices of the Mercy College Choir.
The album is also accompanied by a stunning collection of artwork by guitarist Matt Harvey, with different pieces for each song as well as the album cover. Check the Bandcamp site to see the complete selection of packages including CDs, vinyl, prints, and t-shirts. It is rare and encouraging to see a band put this much commitment and craft into a release.
Alice in the Cities – On the Lines
Featured track: ‘Odessa’
Alice in the Cities is a kraut/post-rock Berlin-based trio who see their compositions as “imaginary film scores” in which they seek to create a subtle cinematic sound built on simple melodies and a sense of constant forward movement, “just like a road movie” (one of which they have even named themselves after – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069687/).
The band does a remarkably fine job working within this motif on their May 2015 release Of the Lines. Seven tracks take us on musical journey through seven cities around the globe. They manage to capture the melancholic transience of the thoughtful traveler as a sense of seeking and yearning that comes through in the music, especially on tracks like ‘Odessa’, ‘Valencia’, ‘Beirut’, and ‘Jaffa’. The kraut rock influence is most clearly apparent in ‘Krakow’ and the band deftly works in blues elements in ‘Wien’ and ‘Zagreb’.
The rhythm section keeps us on the move, varying the pace but never losing the forward thrust, while the guitars set the scenes and create the mood. As a mark of how well they succeeded, try playing this while taking a drive or a walk through the city and you will be amazed at the ease with which it transforms into a personal soundtrack of your journey. Of the Lines is a unique and very enjoyable record that offers something refreshingly different in the genre. Available on CD by email request (see the band’s Bandcamp page).
Homeless Atlantic – The North Passage
Featured track: ‘Skyline’
Based in Wellington, New Zealand, Homeless Atlantic is the duo of Matt Gutteridge and Sean Crookes. Their debut album, The North Passage, is a stunner and one of the most unexpected musical pleasures I’ve enjoyed so far this year. Using guitar, voice, bass and drums with liberal use of effects and sound design techniques, they have created an expansive sound that is shot through with sunlight featuring crystal clear, shimmering guitars and celestial harmony vocals propelled by thunderous dynamics.
Songs like ‘Cascades’, ‘Skyline;, and ‘Constellation’ are especially uplifting while the highly inventive ‘Drift’ sounds like echoes of Hank Marvin and The Beach Boys floating through some kind of post rock fever dream. The final track, ‘Shelter’ provides a majestic climax, as if lifting the listener skyward to disappear into the sun. It is hard to imagine a better addition to your summer post rock playlist than this ebullient offering.
Bright Like the Sun – S/T
Featured track: ’27 Seconds’
The big sky country of Texas continues to prove a fertile breeding ground for some of the best post rock music in the world as evidenced by the eponymous sophomore full-length by San Antonio based Bright Like the Sun. Since their 2013 debut Coda Fin the band has added a fifth member on keyboards to expand their sound and clearly poured themselves into a new record that veritably explodes with lyricism, huge atmospherics and youthful exuberance.
There is a raw unprocessed sound here that lacks sheen and polish by design. Walls of sound meet beautiful melodies in expansive and thoughtful arrangements that flow with the energy and immediacy of a spirited live performance. It feels alive, real, and made by hand.The band also infuses a fresh indie vibe into the formula with the dreamy layered vocals hinted at in the opener ‘White Lights’ and appear again centrally in ‘Screams of Patient Leaves’ as well as the build up to the massive crescendo of the final coda, ’27 Seconds’.
‘Le Vent Sil’ would not sound at all out of place on an early EITS record (that’s a good thing) and the epic ‘An Awoken Dream on Broadway’ is a highlight. This album begs to be played loud to be properly enjoyed and if you are over 30, I can almost guarantee it will make you feel at least 10 years younger. Available on CD as well as digital download.
Waking Aida – Eschaton
Featured track: ‘This Isn’t Even My Final Form’
Eschaton was released in 2014 by Waking Aida and made my top ten list of post rock albums but, oddly, I never managed to put up a review of it. Given that I’ve had it in heavy rotation since the first warm days of spring and that it adds a lustre to any summer playlist, this is a good time to correct that. Maybe I simply found it hard to put into words just how refreshingly different and exhilarating this record is. Every tune is chock full melodic ideas, hairpin turns through varied time signatures, and supercharged crescendos all delivered with seemingly boundless energy and brio.
As an indication of the spirit of the record, the two voice samples used by the band are taken from Sarah Kay’s inspirational TED talk “If I Should Have a Daughter” (‘Incandenza’) and a clip from the comedy “Arrested Development” where David Cross, playing Tobias Funke, proclaims that he wants to be an actor (‘Time Travel With Friends’). Both will put a smile on anyone’s face which will only grow with the accompanying music.
The album really soars in the second half with the alternately syncopated and exuberant ‘Matted Fur’, the lovely violin section of ‘Your Tiny Voice is booming’, and the heart-bursting beauty of the closing track, ‘This Isn’t Even My Final Form’. Simply put, this is a fun, beautiful, and uplifting album.
Anadelta – Supposing We Haven’t Reached a Deadend
Featured Track: ‘Somniloquy’
Anadelta is a post rock project started in 2011 in Athens, Greece that features ambient and electronic elements to create a highly atmospheric sound that is cinematic in scope and ranges from cosmic to moodily dystopian in feel.
Their latest effort, Supposing We Haven’t Reached a Deadend, has a sonically rich and mesmerizing sound throughout, nicely varied with the addition of other instruments such as electric piano on ‘Karma’ and strings on on ‘Things Left Unsaid’. The closing track, ‘Somniloquy’ is both propulsive and haunting. Add a high level of musicianship and excellent recording aesthetics into the mix and you have a slick offering here that fans of God is an Astronaut or Collapse Under the Empire might especially appreciate.
Collapse. Rebuild. – Fail Again, Fail Better
Featured track: ‘The Moon Is a Rainy Place, Pt. 1’
Collapse. Rebuild. is an instrumental rock quartet formed in Milan in 2012 and, after touring around Italy, went into studio and recorded their first EP Fail Again, Fail Better, now out on Fluttery Records. At the core are two very capable guitarists in Stefano Perissinotto and Simone Longoni and a rhythm section of Paul Grassi on bass and Peppe Cassarà on drums. Their sound is self-described as “a mix of floydian atmospheres, punk, metal, indie and jazz, thus creating a sonic shelter where four mindsets and musical tastes find a place to happen…a sound lab with no musical prejudice”.
Though the songs pull from the diverse interests and backgrounds of the band, the common denominator here is great tone, crisp musicianship, and taut interplay between every instrument. The sound sparing on subtleties but it does not lack sophistication and ticks all the boxes for a good play-it-loud rock record – crunchy metallic riffs, soaring crescendos, clean arpeggios, driving kinetic bass lines, syncopated and articulate drum work, and even a guitar solo or two. Post rock fans should really enjoy this and it might even hook the ears of those who have yet to give the genre a try.
We Deserve This – Pacific
Featured track: ‘Pacific’
We Deserve This is the instrumental rock project of Jan-Dirk Platek based in Velbert, Germany. Though he sometimes brings collaborators on board, it is mostly a solo effort which has been quite prolific when you look at the number of singles and EPs he has released in the past year. His latest effort is a full length record called Pacific which should appeal to post rock fans who enjoy hard rock and metal references woven into the music.
While these are not meditative soundscapes, they certainly don’t lack atmosphere. The riffs are plentiful and quite heavy but Platek keeps the album from feeling plodding or claustrophobic by allowing adequate space in each song for clean guitar lines to ring out and let the melodies soak in. The final coda, ‘The Serious Ending’, is particularly enjoyable. I also recommend checking out his two-track collaboration with Sébastien Touraton called The heklAa Session which brings a piano into the mix with some very pleasing results.
10 Waves of You – Fields of Venus
Featured track: ‘Seeds of Life (Seasons)’
10 Waves of You is an ambient post rock music project by Luca Crivellaro based in Vigevano, an historic art town in western Italy. Having played in a couple of alternative bands, Luca started this solo effort in 2014 playing everything including guitar, bass, voice, keys, piano, synths and percussion.
The debut album, Fields of Venus, is a fine first effort and a very appealing listen. There is something vaguely and comfortingly retro about the sound. the clean guitars, moog like synths, and occasional treated vocals all remind me of the more atmospheric side of prog rock music from the 70s, particularly the jazz-inflected Canterbury scene which included groups like Camel. ‘Rays of Kid’, ‘Seeds of Life (Seasons)’, and ‘Clouds’ are standout tracks here, while ‘Darth Vader’ and ‘Off Road’ are more inventive and even playful. This project is off to a nice start.
Code I – Eta Carinae
Featured track: ‘Eta Carinae’
Code I’ is Alex Wilkinson, a solo multi instrumentalist recording artist and producer
from Nottingham,England. His first album called The Ending That We Dream Of, released only 5 months ago, was an ambient post rock album created as part of a university project, a well produced effort covering a wide dynamic range from delicate to quite heavy. May 2015 saw the release of an EP called Hope for the Departed which has just been followed up by a new digital single.
Called Eta Carinae, the title refers to a double stellar system over 7,500 light years from Earth where the two stars come into near contact every five years, never reaching each other. It is a lovely atmospheric piece showing nice development of the project both musically and thematically and has proven to be my favorite work so far.
Sleeping Bear – Parinae
Featured track: ‘Machines’
Parinae is a three track EP just released by Ukranian post rock band Sleeping Bear as a follow up to their spring 2014 self-titled debut. The quartet is composed of Oleksiy Sakevych (guitars, keys), who Stationary Travels may recognize from his solo work as Endless Melancholy, along with Yevgeniy Krasnov (guitars, keys), Artur Steshenko (bass, keys), and Mykhailo Grubyi (drums & percussion).
Post rock enthusiasts who don’t like having to choose between uplifting melodicism versus massive sounds will be happy to know that Sleeping Bear puts both together in one expansive and expressive style. Clearly, they are all capable musicians and appreciate great recording aesthetics so this record sounds fantastic – crisp and clean with an ideal balance between atmospheric elements and heavy riffs.such that the crescendos come off pleasingly cathartic, even transcendent. Available only as a digital release, but the debut record can ordered on CD on Sleeping Bear’s Bandcamp site.
These Guys These Guys – The Cloud Factory
Featured track: ‘Part 1’
These Guys These Guys is an instrumental post-rock group from Chicago, IL. who combine soft, ambient moods with elements of jazz, hardcore and progressive rock. Formed by pianist Branden Johnson, guitarist Jake Szafranski, and drummer Pete Kosmal in the summer of 2007 and later bringing bassist Emily Ward on bass and flute, they have released two EPs – Baprian’s Scrolthings in 2010 and The Cloud Factory in 2014.
The latter EP was my first exposure to bright creative spark of the band thanks to the recommendation of fellow blogger Michael Kegg of 6Forty Project. It is essentially one musical theme rendered in five parts. They take a road less often traveled in post rock by putting the piano out in front in a big way. The album has a very fluid and invigorating feel, even more so on the occasions when the flute comes in as it does on Part 1. The percussion is technically astute and goes beyond the drum kit to add nice shadings and textures to the music in the quieter passages. Overall it is a spry and happy sound, like the sonic equivalent a bracing espresso, giving the listener a welcome lift and infusion of mental energy. Very much looking forward to what “these guys” come up with next.