Post rock exists in an ethereal corner of the music industry, every once in a while producing a more pop-derived tune that can be sold to a mass market, but mostly enjoying devoted pockets of fans more interested in multilayered instrumentals and writing done in movements, not in sellable hooks. On the flipside, the subgenre seeps into heavier music and the heaviest of metal, but has still only carved out a sub genre to explore. And there are so many post rock bands to get into; Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai, and Sigur Ros are just a few examples of a broad but mostly unknown sonic realm.
Although generally without lyrics and simple hooks, post rock does produce a catalog of tunes that achieve what most other genres cannot, and that is an in-depth atmosphere that pulls the listener in and creates a score for whatever part of life its accompanying. Post rock is powerfully cinematic, often blending a keen awareness of matriculate songwriting and the deafening crunch of rock, raising elements from other genres to a whole new scope.
For those of you who haven’t delved into this sub-genre, begin the journey with bands mentioned before. Explosions in the Sky’s Take Care, Take Care, Take Care is a good place to start, along with any release by Mogwai and Sigur Ros (Takk… is a gorgeous album). Fans looking backward in music history should listen to bands such as Tortoise, Slint, and even The Velvet Underground’s drone work, but it’s also important to continue looking forward, as post rock is primordial ooze for sounds discarded by other genres (then utilized in a more inventive manner).
Some of the best current post rock groups are Maybeshewill, Russian Circles, 65daysofstatic, My Education, sleepmakeswaves, and of course Godspeed You! Black Emperor (possibly the most cinematic and surreal of the bunch). It’s difficult to track all of the excellent post rock acts, as not as much attention is paid to a large percentage of the sub-genre, but most of the bands listed here lead to more obscure and even better cinematic rock groups. Fans of subtle, graceful songwriting and epic buildups will find there is no end to the post rock universe.
Some of the best post rock releases in recent years have to be:
65daysofstatic’s Wild Light (2013) beautifully blends electronic dance music with sweeping, atmospheric guitar and synth work. It’s highly addictive and gorgeously rendered.
Caspian’s Waking Season (2012) is an almost perfect post rock effort, with massive guitar swells and a subtle grandiosity all its own.
Neil on Impression, an Italian group, released The Perfect Tango in 2006. It’s a meticulous, experimental, and often groovy piece of post rock excellence.
Russian Circles’ Memorial (2013) is thunderous and crushing, owing to some of the heaviest guitar riffs in the sub-genre and the precise yet wild drumming style of Dave Turncrantz.
Irepress is a peculiar and creative group associated with more funk and pop based groups like Bad Rabbits, which makes their 2009 release Sol Eye Sea I an epic surprise. It’s still one of my favorite post rock albums, as it’s not only extremely heavy but also groovy, masterfully offbeat, and shows off some creative instrumental chops.
Any of these albums will inevitably lead down into the shadowy cosmos of post rock, a place filled with some of the most impressive talents in music that not enough people have heard of or even given a chance. This is a subgenre that demands more than the sub prefix. Prepare for the soundtrack of your existence.