Tag Archives: Post-Rock

On “Final Transmission,” Cave In Play Through The Pain

A brief history of the Eastern Massachusetts band Cave In reads as follows: they started hard, then got weird. On their 1998 debut Until Your Heart Stops, the group—vocalist/guitarist Stephen Brodsky, guitarist Adam McGrath, drummer John-Robert Conners, and bassist Caleb Scofield—introduced themselves as complicated hardcore band; by the aughts, they’d begun investigating “heavy, heavy space rock.” Jupiter, released in 2000, and the 2003 major-label-debut Antenna are metal only in the broadest definition of the term. Miraculously, the transition worked, and not only did their original fans follow, their audience grew.

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Album of the Day: Meernaa, “Heart Hunger”

The year between the release of Meernaa’s 2018 Strange Life EP and the band’s first full-length album, Heart Hunger, was a time of emotional extremes: frontwoman Carly Bond unearthed a long-hidden family trauma, married Meernaa keyboardist Rob Shelton, and delved deep into her own spirituality through herbalism studies. Heart Hunger mirrors that complex blend of joy and hurt—Bond’s voice betrays an ache, but her songs don’t dwell or drag; instead they’re urged forward by a driving, bluesy rhythm section. Heart Hunger doesn’t fit neatly into a single genre, effortlessly jumping from synth-heavy soul to borderline ambient. Playful tracks like the echoing “Ridges” and “Black Diamond Mine,” an eight-and-a-half minute number that pivots between time signatures, are interspersed with comparatively straightforward indie-blues slow jams like “Wells.”

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Album of the Day: Jambinai, “ONDA”

In the press materials for Jambinai’s new album ONDA, Lee Ill-woo groused that “most people expect Asian traditional music to make something smooth for yoga or meditation,” suggesting that he sees his band within that lineage, and that others might not. By using archaic folk instruments to make post-rock and black metal—genres that have, coincidentally, also been used for yoga lately—Jambinai have created one of the more unique alchemies in heavy music. What’s more, they’ve acted as South Korea’s national ambassadors at both Coachella and the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter closing ceremony, the latter of which makes them the gnarliest and least expected Olympic musical performers since Fuck Buttons. There aren’t too many bigger stages for Jambinai to occupy, but in case there is, their third and best LP, ONDA, can fill it.

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The Bandcamp Guide to Earth

Earth

For nearly 30 years, Dylan Carlson has occupied an unlikely dual role as a true vanguard of experimental music and an undisputed Lord of the Riff, garnering respect from outer-sound explorers and metal heshers in equal measure. You’d forgive a band whose early years were so intense for flaming out quickly, or for milking their notoriety on the nostalgia circuit. Neither of those scenarios has been the case for Earth.


Amid the chaos of the Seattle scene, Carlson was essentially inventing the drone/doom genre that bands like Sunn O))) and Boris would later expand on. He figured out a way to twist Tony Iommi’s amplifier worship into something with a dynamic spectrum so tight that the slightest deviations—a familiar riff coming back with its final note bent, a feedback squall that shatters a meditative drone, a cymbal hit that comes in a half-beat early—became seismic events. Reinvigorated by the addition of drummer Adrienne Davies in 2001, the band is making some of its finest work today, including the brilliant Full Upon Her Burning Lips. The album’s cover is a first for Earth—a portrait of Carlson and Davies in vivid close-up, both defiant, both still standing, all these years later.

Earth

Here’s a guide to a few of the most essential releases in Earth’s vast discography.

A Bureaucratic Desire for Extra Capsular Extraction

The seven songs that comprise A Bureaucratic Desire for Extra Capsular Extraction spent 20 years waiting to be reunited. Recorded in October 1990 as a debut full-length that never saw the light of day, the songs were parceled out across demos, EPs, and limited-edition records before finally being remastered and presented as a full album in 2010. It’s almost shocking how fully-formed the aesthetic of Earth’s first incarnation sounds on their earliest recordings. Carlson seems to have sprung from the womb capable of building towering drones out of detuned post-Master of Reality riffs. “Ouroboros Is Broken” is the obvious masterstroke here, an 18-minute treatise on heaviness that remains a staple of the band’s live set.

Hex; Or Printing in the Infernal Method

Following a series of essential ’90s albums that shaped the sound of drone metal as we know it, Earth went on hiatus. Carlson was in the throes of heroin addiction and dealing with the fallout from his friend Kurt Cobain’s death. Music was the last thing on his mind. The band rebooted in the early aughts, and 2005’s Hex LP was the first major document of their ongoing second era. The impossibly heavy guitar drones remained, but they were complemented by the genius feel of drummer Adrienne Davies, and Carlson’s country and Western influences started to come through more in the songs. Earth have always had an Ennio Morricone streak, but on Hex, he’s a spiritual ghost writer.

The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull

In 2008, Earth released what many consider their best album. The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull is the band at their most grandiose, taking inspiration from the Biblical story of Samson and Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian and enlisting a crack team of collaborators to add new dimensions to their signature sound. Steve Moore—who releases music under the name “Stebmo” and has also performed extensively with Sunn O)))—splashes piano, Hammond, and Wurlitzer across the sonic canvas, and the legendary avant-garde guitarist Bill Frisell (of Naked City solos) with a controlled chaos that contrasts Carlson’s desert-rock drones brilliantly. The hypnotic riffs on the album double as hooks, too; good luck listening to “Rise to Glory” or “Miami Morning Coming Down II (Shine)” without getting them stuck in your head.

Primitive and Deadly

The vast majority of Earth’s music is fully instrumental, and when it does utilize vocals, it’s typically to add another sonic texture, not to shift the focal point of the song. Primitive and Deadly is the glaring exception. Fellow Seattle alt-rock hero Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees brings his gravelly voice to the ominous tone poems “There Is a Serpent Coming” and “Rooks Across the Gate,” and Rose Windows belter Rabia Shaheen Qazi steals the show with her histrionic performance on album centerpiece “From the Zodiacal Light.” The remaining two songs are instrumental, and they make the case for Primitive and Deadly as the most metal Earth album. “Torn by the Fox of the Crescent Moon” is driven by a palm-muted riff that chugs forward like thrash played a quarter-speed, and “Even Hell Has Its Heroes” indulges in a 10-minute guitar solo.

The Bug vs. Earth – Concrete Desert

Here’s the album where Dylan Carlson renewed his experimental pioneer license. Concrete Desert is a collaboration between Earth and U.K. noise/dub/industrial artist The Bug. If that sounds like an odd fit, especially for the Western-obsessed Mark II version of Earth, then the project did its job. There’s room enough on Concrete Desert for The Bug and Earth to both sound like themselves, and also room enough for them to collide in unpredictable, thrillingly cacophonous ways. The best song here might be the JK Flesh-featuring bonus track “Dog,” which in an alternate timeline would have fueled the wildest raves of the early ’90s.

Full Upon Her Burning Lips

Full Upon Her Burning Lips, the latest Earth full-length, foregrounds the humanity of Carlson and Davies, both in its striking cover art and in the intimacy of its compositions. It retains the widescreen scope of the best Earth albums, but it also manages to make it feel like we’re in the room with the band while they’re tracking it. Musically, the stop-start dynamics of “The Colour of Poison” introduce a new wrinkle to the classic Earth sound, while the two 11-minute-plus tracks, “Datura’s Crimson Veils” and “She Rides an Air of Malevolence,” rival the most epic moments of the band’s career.

-Brad Sanders

White Noise Records is a Hub for Hong Kong’s DIY Underground

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Tfvsjs

“In Western culture, it’s almost a rite of passage to rebel—to join a band, to be an artist, is generally no big deal. That’s not Hong Kong’s reality,” explains Valentine Nixon, one half of New Zealand dream-pop sister duo Purple Pilgrims. “When it comes to experimental music, there is a general sense that people really mean what they’re saying. They’re living what they’re making, because it’s so far from social norms or acceptance. This often makes the art itself feel political, even when it’s not trying to be.” Nixon is speaking from experience here. Raised between New Zealand and Hong Kong by itinerant parents, some of her formative musical moments took place in Hong Kong’s underground, a landscape worlds removed from the image-obsessed Cantonese pop of the region’s glossy mainstream.

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These 8 Scandinavian Bands Are Emo’s Unlikeliest Torchbearers

scandinavian-emo-1244Once upon a time, emo was a dirty word. By the mid-2000s the music-listening public found itself burnt out on jangly quiet-loud choruses, plaintive vocals, and confessional lyrics. Maybe the output got too corny, or perhaps one too many bands broke out of Long Island; who can tell? At any rate, once all the Midwestern greats broke up, and the mainline mopers started to play acoustic guitars and write showtunes, few were left hankering for a revival, if you will, of the weepiest genre.

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Album of the Day: Hammock, “Universalis”

In the music that Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson make as Hammock, everything and nothing seems to happen at once. Like Stars of the Lid with a slight spring in their step, or Explosions in the Sky moving in slow motion, Hammock’s songs aren’t afraid to bask in the soft glow of their own beautiful melodies for whole minutes at a time.

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A Brief Introduction to Southeast Asian Post-Rock and Math Rock

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In western countries, “post-rock” has been around since the mid ‘90s; according to lore, journalist Simon Reynolds coined the term to describe the U.K. band Bark Psychosis’ 1994 album Hex. Since that time, bands like Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai, Caspian, and others have built long-running careers on the subtle mastery of texture and dynamics. Its close cousin “math rock” has been around about as long; though the roots of its knotty sound are in progressive rock, its current incarnation can be traced back to early ‘90s bands like Slint and Don Caballero. But in Southeast Asian countries, the movement is still relatively young; Singapore’s KittyWu Records started to hone in on post-rock bands in 2007; in the Philippines, Encounters With A Yeti’s post-rock masterpiece Pilot was released six years ago via Terno Recordings.

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