Reviews Column 61: Post-Rock

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Probably the biggest release in recent months has been Chon’s debut, Glow (Sumerian).

Depending on your viewpoint, it’s either an overblown, hyped-up mess, or it’s the album of the year, hands down, with no discussion needed, or indeed permitted. Such is the extreme polarisation of the post-rock scene that it speaks volumes - after all, if you’re not pissing at least some people off, then you’re probably not doing it right. So far as their music goes, it’s technical, busy, largely instrumental rock that eschews dramatic heaviness. The album highlight is Can’t Wait and, well, it’s worth checking out - you’ll either really love it or really hate it.

Closer to home, Glaswegian post-rockers Vasa are prepped to release their much anticipated, self-released debut, Colours. A frantic, up-tempo blast of exuberant post-rock, it’s a thrilling live ride that’s seen their fanbase swell after self-booked UK tours and packed sets at festivals like ArcTanGent. Latest single Fat Ronaldo is a great introduction to their sound, and fans of Tera Melos, the late Adebisi Shank or early And So I Watch You From Afar will surely become instant converts to their cause.

A compilation that’s worth some attention is Math and Atlases, put together by US-based instrumental weirdos Space Blood in advance of their recent UK tour. The highlight is Skiddaw, which sees the welcome return of Leeds’ Wot Gorilla?, the genre-smashing masterminds of experimental rock. Like Oceansize, The Dillinger Escape Plan and The Fall Of Troy knife-fighting in a burlap sack, their sound is at once outrageously technical and cooly melodic, as on past highlights Fear of Flying and Snow White, but now it’s more focussed than ever. Weirdly, it’s also more proggy; with slightly more comprehensible song structures, there’s a greater tendency toward theme and variation and extended middle eights and outros, as also seen on last single Joints.

Finally this month, the latest LP from Australian post-metallers We Lost The Sea simply demands mention. Thematically buckling under the weight of vocalist Chris Torpy’s suicide two years ago, Departure Songs (Bird’s Robe) is an obsessive, beautiful record, full of grief, longing, and, most surprisingly, inspiration. It focuses on the theme of sacrifice: sacrifice for friends (A Gallant Gentleman, about Captain Oates); for fellow citizens (Bogatyri’s about three workers who gave themselves a lethal dose of radiation while saving lives during the Chernobyl disaster); and for dignity (The Last Dive of David Shaw is about rescuing the body of a fellow diver and perishing in the attempt). The sacrifice of those who lose their live exploring in the name of mankind is detailed in the album’s two-part closer, Challenger. It’s by no means an easy listen, but it is a thrilling, rewarding journey, told with care and grace by the band.