Posts tagged ‘post-rock’
You may recall the enthusiasm this here blog expressed for Kelvox1’s Grazed Red when it emerged as a free download release last year. (You may also remember this here blog’s embarrassing inability to spell the band’s name correctly but we’ll just gloss over that.) That download disappeared from the Internet pretty quickly and a hard-copy release seemed to be on the cards. And just recently, Grazed Red re-emerged as an LP on New Jersey’s Aagoo Records.
Listening to this album as a free download, it was hard not to to be impressed by its sophistication – electronically-enhanced avant rock on a truly epic scale. Hearing Grazed Red again as a fancy-pants vinyl LP puts it into a different context; throwing into sharp relief the fact that it is, in many ways, a very primitive recording. Lo-fi murk abounds. The vocals, in particular, sound choked by the spores of practice-room mould and mildew. It’s the tension between Kelvox1’s clear artistic ambitions and the lo-fi insouciance of the way Grazed Red is delivered that makes it such a compelling, multi-dimensional listen.
This same tension is very much present on the latest album from Brooklyn’s Father Murphy, another recent Aagoo release (and while we’re at it, on the phenomenal new Woebot album too). Like the Kelvox1 album, Anyway, Your Children Will Deny It is a darkly enigmatic piece of work. There’s a slightly gothy, theatrical edge to this one, so comparisons with Swans, Virgin Prunes and Einsturzende Neubauten make sense.
However, this surprisingly normal-looking three-piece does a pretty good job of not sounding quite like anyone else. Even better, it’s occasionally hard to tell what instruments or electronics are being used to produce the sounds on Anyway… (although online evidence suggests a fairly simple guitar/keyboards/drums line-up).
Even, even betterer, this album is among the select breed of long-players that are actually short enough to play at 45RPM (Meat Puppets II and Sylvain Chauveau’s Singular Forms spring to mind as other great examples). The point is: these guys have artistic ambition to spare but they also know how to be concise.
Aagoo is a new name to the Bubblegum Cage III. But on this evidence, the label is doing extremely good work. Head over to its Web store immediately and buy these albums!
(Oh and Father Murphy is coming to Vancouver later this month but the show ‘s at the Biltmore, so fuck that.)
You may remember that, last October, this here blog enthusiastically trumpeted the official CD release of Disco Inferno’s The 5 EPs compilation. Since that time, a vinyl edition of said compilation has not been forthcoming. In an attempt to redress this monstrous injustice, Bubblegum Cage III has partnered with The UK Post-Rock Group to launch an online petition, which you are strongly urged to sign.
Apparently, the official line is that One Little Indian will only release The 5 EPs on vinyl once a satisfactory number of CDs have been sold. Therefore, you are also strongly urged to fork out for a CD copy of the compilation, if you haven’t already bought one. In fact, buy a bunch of copies and give them to friends. Then tell those friends to go sign the petition.
This is THE MOST IMPORTANT REISSUE IN THE HISTORY OF RECORDED MUSIC and it deserves a full, proper VINYL edition. Please.
It’s funny that Neil Kulkarni‘s A New Nineties series of articles has coincided with Post-Rocktoberfest 2011, even though (or maybe particularly because) he altogether disavows the term “post-rock”. Still, with excellent features on Main, Disco Inferno and Insides, it’s hard to deny that UK post-rock – or whatever you want to call it – is the central focus of this series. Essential reading over at The Quietus.
Also coinciding with Post-Rocktoberfest, a neat little blog post on Papa Sprain’s Flying to Vegas EP.
Meanwhile, here are some quick links for those of you who (shame on you) haven’t been keeping up with Post-Rocktoberfest this year:
- Three mix CDs: UK Post-Rock Vol. 7, UK Post-Rock Vol. 8 and US Post-Rock Vol. 1
- Flying Saucer Attack: An Appreciation
- Kelvox1 – Grazed Red (a really great contemporary UK post-rock album)
- Disco Inferno – The Five EPs (song by song)
And that’s about it for this year! Can’t wait for Post-Rocktoberfest 2012.
Post-Rocktoberfest: The most magical time of year.
Those of you who remember previous posts on the subject of early American post-rock will recognize some of these tracks. Those of you labouring under the misapprehension that US post-rock is total crap are in for a pleasant surprise.
This stuff has a reputation for being a rather sterile mix of instrumental indie rock and light jazz fusion. This compilation aims to show that the earliest and best American post-rock was a natural extension of UK post-rock’s futuristic eclecticism.
It’s also worth noting that the Wire magazine article in which Simon Reynolds first identified a specifically American strain of post-rock concentrated heavily on an emerging strand of space rock, in which analogue synths and effects pedals were far more prominent than vibraphones and six-string bass guitars. Having said that, the first track on this compilation features both a vibraphone and – almost certainly – a six-string bass.
Click here to download US Post-Rock Vol. 1 or click the links in the track-list below to preview the individual tracks. And don’t forget to support the artists whenever the opportunity arises!
1. Tortoise – “Glass Museum”
In a very specific sense, Tortoise are a bit like My Bloody Valentine. Each band spawned a legion of imitators, who only bothered to superficially imitate the surface details of the music, failing to touch the thick, rich layer of true strangeness that lay beneath.
2. Trans Am – “Firepoker”
Quite possibly the first band to build a sound on a basis of tongue-in-cheek 80s popular culture references. But there’s no hypnagogic fug here, only invigorating percussive clarity.
3. Salaryman – “Voids + Superclusters”
The experimental alter ego of punk-pop band Poster Children. In terms of their influences and procedures, Salaryman were very much grooving along the same lines as many of the British post-rock bands. Being American, though, their material was purely instrumental.
4. Bowery Electric – “Fear of Flying”
Not that all US post-rock bands lacked in the vocals department. Here we have hip-hop beats, dub bass and shoegaze guitars, all topped off with cooing female vox. Now that‘s the 90s!
5. UI – “Sexy Photograph”
Even some of the primarily instrumental USPR bands would break out the vocals occasionally. Presumably that’s future New Yorker music critic Sasha Frere-Jones doing the hollering on this cut.
6. The For Carnation – “A Tribute to”
It has been said that Slint’s Spiderland was the key precursor to instrumental US post-rock and third-generation emo post-rock. Many of the folks who have said this genuinely seem never to have noticed that Brian McMahan’s mumbled vocals are one of the key elements of that album’s vividly dreamlike atmosphere. This track from McMahan’s post-Slint project is rather closer to UK post-rock than it is to any of the garbage Spiderland supposedly inspired. It’s downright funky!
7. Cul De Sac – “Doldrums”
Nine minutes of what sounds like a cassette recording of a Neu! rehearsal. In a good way!
8. Gastr Del Sol – “Rebecca Sylvester”
It almost seems unfair to lump the duo of Jim O’Rourke and David Grubbs in with post-rock. Somehow they were more interested in stepping outside rock than they were in moving beyond it. Still, they were very definitely tied into the Louisville/Chicago milieu that spawned Slint and Tortoise, so…
9. Labradford – “El Lago”
This is where we get into outer space. Labradford’s music was like a gorgeous elegy for the glory day’s of the US space programme. As vividly dreamlike as anything on Spiderland, without actually sounding much like Slint.
10. Fuxa – “Photon”
Wooshing analogue synths and chiming guitars. It must be space-rock!
11. Windy & Carl – “Lighthouse”
Space-rock drifting into shoegaze territory. Flying Saucer Attack fans will dig this one.
12. Stars of the Lid – “The Evil That Never Arrived”
Beautiful processed guitars business. These chaps were way ahead of their time in a lot of ways.
13. Rome – “Intermodal”
As with the Stars of the Lid track, this stands as proof that American post-rock bands were just as capable of dissolving into full-on abstraction as their British cousins. This is almost like a lo-fi take on Main.
Ultra-obscure bands! Little-known side projects! If volume seven was solid and familiar, this one is ragged and delightfully confounding. Click here to download UK Post-Rock Vol. 8 or click on the links in the track-list below to preview the individual songs. Like something you hear? Go buy the artist’s actual albums – preferably on vinyl!
1. ROC – “Cheryl”
Not really post-rock per se but ROC were highly illustrative of an experimental pop style that was very much contemporary with the original UKPR scene. This style has been fairly well represented in the UK Post-Rock compilation series, with tracks by the likes of Adventures in Stereo, Locust, Screeper and – of course – Experimental Pop Band.
2. Mark van Hoen – “Photophone Call”
Talking of Locust, here’s a track from a recent solo album by that band’s leader (and Seefeel founder) Mark Van Hoen. Where is the Truth was perhaps the tragically overlooked LP of 2010.
3. Matt Elliott – “The Mess We Made”
Also tragically overlooked, Third Eye Foundation mainstay Matt Elliott’s first solo album The Mess We Made is an absolute gem. Here’s the title track.
4. Foehn – “We Tear at Each Other’s Hearts”
Foehn was Debbie Parsons, who contributed heavily to The Third Eye Foundations scarifying Ghost album. Foehn’s work is less nerve-wracking but equally spooky.
5. Crescent – “Drift”
Like Matt Elliott and Foehn, Crescent were central to the Bristol post-rock/space rock scene. Band’s from that scene tended to be pretty downcast but Crescent took the biscuit. Exquisite miserablism!
6. Papa Sprain & Butterfly Child – “Lalena”
Wasn’t Butterfly Child’s high-watermark Ghetto Speak EP basically a Papa Sprain/BC collaboration? In any case, here they are together with a track created for a Donovan tribute CD put out by Vancouver’s Nettwerk Records (which also featured a collab between Brix Smith and her then beau Nigel Kennedy!) One rather suspects said CD could be found in just about any dollar bin around the Metro Vancouver area.
7. In Heaven – “Aquanova”
A slight dip in audio quality here caused by the fact that this band seem never to have made it to vinyl or CD. This is the title track from a cassette release. Very much in the post-A.R. Kane style of the artists discussed immediately above.
8. Bracken – “Evil Teeth”
Chris Adams from Hood with a magnificent mix of free jazz chaos and digital electronica… well.. chaos! Did this really come out on genre-defining “post-rap” label Anticon? And – if so – what does that say?
9. The Declining Winter – “Summer Turns to Hurt”
Another Hood spin-off, this time led by Chris’s brother Richard Adams. Also featuring this here blog’s good buddy Paul Elam aka Fieldhead.
10. Shiva Affect – “Cloud My Way”
Almost as obscure as In Heaven, these fellows at least managed to put out a CD (Yahweh), from which this song is taken. Think Bark Psychosis in space.
11. Navigator – “Dorothy Carter”
We’re getting into the UK-bands-inspired-by-US-post-rock zone here, which can be troublesome ground. This is a great tune, though.
12. State River Widening – “Amsterdam Green”
Likewise but even more so in every sense.
13. Ganger – “Cats, Dogs & Babies’ Jaws”
Surprising there weren’t more post-rock bands from Scotland. Of course, there’s that band. You know the one!
14. .O.Rang – “Little Sister”
Brilliant and ground-breaking as they were Talk Talk’s growing reputation as the great precursor to post-rock is somewhat overstated. This here blog would argue that Public Image Ltd., 23 Skidoo and Dif Juz were more indicative of what made early UK post-rock truly great and important. In any case, Talk Talk were, of course fantastic and it should be remembered that Lee Harris and Paul Webb went on to be .O.Rang, producing a sound that recalled the ethnological forgeries of Can (another great UKPR precursor).
What, you might be forgiven for asking, did Flying Saucer Attack have to do with post-rock? After all, post-rock in the original sense tended to be rather rhythmically solid and occasionally somewhat glossy; with all sorts of influences from electronic dance music and hip-hop. Post-rock in the contemporary sense tends to be epic and demonstratively emotional; full of big crescendos and widescreen angst. Flying Saucer Attack, on the other hand, were always decidedly shy and retiring; existing in an introverted, funk-less, lo-tech fug of fuzz and mumble; My Bloody Valentine with all the lustiness and digital tricknology bled out.
Perhaps it’s just a matter of association. FSA will always be associated with the Bristol post-rock scene of the 90s, alongside the likes of Movietone, Crescent and Light. This brought them into contact with more typically UK post-rock-sounding acts like AMP and The Third Eye Foundation. And in fact, as FSA went on, they did start to take on board the technologically-enhanced rhythmic innovations of early post-rock per se. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, aren’t we?
First of all, it seems ridiculous to talk of Flying Saucer Attack as “they” when the whole thing was essentially the bedroom recording project of a pale-and-interesting record collector by the name of David Pearce. True, he had some helping hands – notably Rachel Brook of Movietone – but Flying Saucer Attack was clearly the realisation of Pearce’s very singular vision.
(The lo-fi, bedroom recording aspect is a large part of what sets Flying Saucer Attack apart from much early-to-mid-90s post-rock. One FSA’s slogans was “Home Taping is Reinventing Music”. In fact, though, there was quite a bit of crossover between the British version of lo-fi and UK post-rock – hear the early Hood material for evidence.)
Second, portraying Pearce as an intense and insular type only tells one side of the story. Did you read that bit in parentheses about FSA having slogans? When a musician starts using slogans, it tends to suggest s/he has some kind of overarching ambition; a slightly arrogant desire to impose a very specific worldview on the record-buying public; a special plan for this world. In fact, Pierce’s diffidence clearly masked an impish, mischievous personality as well as some satirical and deeply ideological intent. (In this regard, he had a lot in common with Ian Masters of Pale Saints/Spoonfed Hybrid infamy). All this is to say that Pearce in no way lacked post-rock’s artistic ambition or desire to disrupt and move ahead.
Pearce’s wiseacre sense of humour came through early on, when Flying Saucer Attack covered Suede’s “The Drowners” on their self-titled debut album. Listen closely and consider deeply and this incredibly sloppy, fuzzed-out take on a quintessential early Britpop anthem will tell you everything you need to know about FSA. Flying Saucer Attack also hinted at the more rhythmic nature of the band’s later work, via some pretty freaky percussive jams. Furthermore, it was a crystal clear statement of intent in terms of establishing Pearce’s credentials as an ahead-of-the-game rock scholar. Not one but two of the songs were named after kosmiche music/new age legends Popol Vuh – which was a pretty obscure reference for a British indie band to make at that time. (Pearce was also way ahead of the pack in embracing UK folk – he memorably described his music as “rural psychedelia” and FSA covered “Sally Free and Easy”.) If all that were not enough, the album featured what may be FSA’s best song, “My Dreaming Hill”.
So, Flying Saucer Attack encompasses pretty much anything you might want from Flying Saucer Attack. But to hear the band’s most coherent statement, you’re advised to grab Further. The “Outdoor Miner” CD single is also worth hunting down as it features a beautifully fragile rendering of the classic Wire tune, as well as another stone-cold FSA classic, “Everywhere Was Everything”. For some insight into FSA’s more rhythmically-focused later work the Chorus compilation (featuring the glorious “Feedback Song”) and New Lands album are both well worth hearing. Listen to the lot and you should get a fairly decent idea of what a richly rewarding and hard-to-pin-down phenomenon Flying Saucer Attack really was.
Anyone know what Pearce is up to these days?