Post-Rocktoberfest: UK Post-Rock Volume Five
The last couple of compilations in this series have strayed to the margins somewhat. Firstly, they’ve concentrated – to a certain extent – on exploring the work of lesser-known bands. Secondly, they’ve focused on showing that post-rock was as much a part of some nascent indie continuum as it was a reaction to acid house and rave.
This volume gets back to the source, with tracks from many of the key UK post-rock albums. It also displays a renewed focus on post-rock’s absorption of elements from a range of sampledelic dance music genre’s and – in particular – hip-hop. So, for those of you who are new to UKPR , this is as good a place to start as any.
A sixth volume is planned, which will only feature bands that have not appeared on any of the previous volumes. In the meantime, here’s the track-listing for volume five…
1. Insides – “Bent Double”
You could comfortably put just about any song from Euphoria on a compilation like this. It’s a more-or-less perfect album and each track works beautifully in its own right. The genius of Euphoria is how it uses tight, interlocking musical cells and abstracted vocals to capture the creepiness of human intimacy. “Bent Double” does a particularly good job of this, helped along by some startling lyrical twists: “You may warm your cold hands on my stomach/And breathe warm air down my neck/But only my best friend will rub my back, hold my head/And stroke the hair out of my face when I’m being sick/Because I can’t hold my drink.”
2. Long Fin Killie – “The Heads of Dead Surfers”
Okay, so the first half of this compilation is still quite indie-centric. Don’t worry, the hip-hop and techno-influenced stuff is coming up. For now, just enjoy the vertiginous angles and swooning gestures of Scottish avant-indie band Long Fin Killie. “The Heads of Dead Surfers” features a surprising number of hooks, bursts of free-form saxophone and a guest appearance from Mark E. Smith himself.
3. Telstar Ponies – “Lugengeschichte”
Another, Scottish indie band. Those Telstar Ponies were pretty ahead of the game in copping influences from free jazz, British folk and – on this track – the motorik pulse of prime krautrock. It all makes sense when you learn that the band was fronted by Wire magazine critic and England’s Hidden Reverse author David Keenan.
4. Disco Inferno – “Second Language”
It wouldn’t be a UK post-rock compilation without a Disco Inferno track and this one probably didn’t appear on any of the previous volumes, right? A marvellous single from the band’s Five EPs heyday, mixing the sampledelic ecstatic with the rock mundane as only Disco Inferno knew how.
5. Papa Sprain – “Cliff Tune”
For what little information exists on Papa Sprain, please refer back to this previous post. “Cliff Tune” comes from Gary McKendry and co’s Peel session and probably encapsulates their rather obtuse aesthetic better than any other song they recorded.
6. Epic45 – “A Year Without a Summer”
Surely the most recent track on this compilation by some years. Epic45 is a contemporary British indie band unafraid to site Disco Inferno and Bark Psychosis as key influences. What this song really demonstrates though, is that Slowdive has become a more than acceptable influence for bands to flaunt. This must be rather baffling for the British music journalists who laughed that most unapologetically fey of all shoegaze bands out of town in the early ’90s.
7. Scorn – “Light Trap”
Here comes the hip-hop influence. This track from the Birmingham duo’s bleak master-work Evanescence has a head-nodding beat that might make you want to bust out a freestyle. Resist that urge. Apparently, ex-Scorn/Napalm Death bassist Nic Bullen – who has the vocals covered here, thank you very much – is developing a new project, which is named after this song. Good choice.
8. Seefeel – “Polyfusion”
Due to an association with the Warp-sponsored “Artificial Intelligence” scene, Seefeel managed to build a larger and more durable fan-base than most of the early post-rock bands. These fellows must also be the only first-generation post-rockers to stage a proper reformation (but surely they won’t be the last). This track is from their endlessly hypnotic debut album, Quique.
9. The Third Eye Foundation – “A Galaxy of Scars”
How has this avoided being on one of the previous volumes? The absolute high-watermark of Bristol post-rock – a sampledelic collage taking in elements of jungle, hip-hop and Nurse with Wound-style weirdness.
10. Ice – “X-1”
One of Kevin “The Bug” Martin’s many projects from the early ’90s, Ice’s underrated Bad Blood prefigured the great man’s more popular recent work by employing the services of various hip-hop emcees (though Martin is now better known for his work with reggae deejays). Here, Sebastien from the mighty New Kingdom gets busy over a groove that is lither and less lumbering than most of Martin’s work from this period.
11. Terminal Cheesecake – “Ginge le Geezer”
Terminal Cheesecake is another band that has been previously discussed on this here blog. The phrase “Pop Will Eat Itself finally getting serious” was used. Be afraid.
12. Bark Psychosis – “Absent Friend”
This thread on the UK Post-Rock Group has clearly shown that “Absent Friend” is Bark Psychosis’s most popular song. Humbling news for those of us who barely noticed it nestled in the middle of Hex. It is indeed a marvellous construction. The jazzy drums and dubby bass of the verses pointedly refuse to gel, opening up a huge gap in the song, which is sporadically filled by the cascading guitars and gushing vocals of the chorus.
You can grab any individual tracks you may want by clicking on the links above or download the whole thing from this link.
If that doesn’t work, try this one.
And here’s where you can still get some of the previous volumes: