Post-rock is an olive, acquired taste. Once you have acquired it by repeated exposure, it becomes a delicacy. It is a broad label for music characterised by an experimental way of guitar-playing using pedals for distorted effects, creating a permanent underlying latency, the so called “droning” (first recognized in Velvet Underground‘s ‘Heroine’, 1967).
Post-rock, as the name indicates, broke with the classical rock rules, dared to go a step further. Bands like Mogwai, GY!BE, Cul de Sac and Sigur Rós are said to be the main protagonists. But the roots reach further back in history. The term ‘post-rock’ was coined by Simon Reynolds (who else could it be?), who defined it as “using rock instrumentation for non-rock purposes, using guitars as facilitators of timbre and textures rather than riffs and power chords”. Further Reynolds explains that “the more ‘post’ a post-rock band gets, the more it abandons the verse-chorus-verse structure in favor of the soundscape”and “with its droneswarm guitars and tendecy to melt into ambient, post-rock first erodes, then obliterates the song and the voice”. Public Image Ldt.‘s Metal Box (1979) is considered as one of the first post-rock albums.
Lately two bands caught my attention, ASCETIC and Voyvoda. Blending post-rock with other musical styles such as post-punk and martial industrial they take post-rock to a different level. Among all the retromanic “new” musical styles post-wave (to use Voyvoda‘s self-designation for both bands) is perhaps one of the most intriguing. While post-rock makes it possible to create unique soundscapes by an unusual use of guitars, its hybridisation with post-punk makes it more accessible. In contrary to the classic post-rock acts, the post-wave songs usually include lyrics and are somewhat more structured.
Recently I was at a concert by the Australian band ASCETIC. They recently released their first album Self Initiation (March 2013). The concert venue was full of fog, when I arrived, from the three musicians I only could see the guitarist. It was not very crowded, yet the atmosphere was overwhelming. Their sound cannot be described other than ‘cold’.
On their Facebook page ASCETIC present their album as following: “Drawn from a collective obsession with fringe philosophy and post-new-age consciousness, Self Initiation evokes the moods & spaces of 4AD’s early roster (Swans, Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins), with a nod to contemporaries The Soft Moon, Factory Floor & Portishead’s ‘Third’. Thick pulsing rhythms erupt into glorious, cascading conclusion; from narcissistic rants, to sickly crooned anthems; from the outer regions of reality to the depths of the subconscious, a white shadow emerging from the process: ASCETIC.” Sounds pompous, however, the result is worth showing:
The self-named “post-wave” band Voyvoda from Bulgaria caught my attention for a longer time now. A fusion of post-punk, martial industrial and post-rock draws an amazing sound-landcape and a perfect atmosphere. Voyvoda are at afmusic – Germany’s Most Innovative Label. Their album Iztok (2012) can be downloaded at afmusic. The following song, ‘Stefan the Vlach’s Son’, is in a class of its own. Just close your eyes while listening and wander through the pastures created in your mind’s eye.