Friday, January 07, 2005

Post-Rock music recommendations

In advance of Christmas, Cloud and myself went to the wonderful world that is Selectadisc. Ahh, where the Post-Rock section exists; where Godspeed and their related subsidiaries have their own section; where to help the buying public the shop puts nice hand-written labels on the CDs hinting at advice on "if you like these, you'll like this."

Latest to catch our eyes and ears were Efterklang (Danish - kinda like Rachels being beep-click remixed) and 65 Days of Static (somehow in my head as 65 Seconds of Static --- maybe I have some time management difficulties!). Efterklang's album "Tripper" became one of our George gifts whilst we kept the 65's "The Fall of Math" for ourselves. 65 is, as name implies, suitably driven by static noise and is all the good for it.

PLAYLOUDER ( - 8 September 2004

Most bands form and then make a conscious choice to imitate, plagiarise and become a pastiche of their idols. The music buying public love to be reminded of the good times; the old times; the familiar. It’s the reason we've had The Beatles, The Clash and The Stooges clones plague our minds, radio, newspapers, TV, and our souls for the past twenty-five years. It’s the reason guitar based music has driven itself into a rut; become stale, bland, tired and overblown. Time for an overhaul. But that’s most bands, and it’s clear that 65 Days of Static have no intention of being some retro-fuck entity. Nestling themselves in a scene loosely called math-rock or post-rock, they appear to have broken the golden alt-rock rule of not using computers, samplers, electronics etc (it’s not real music you know). Instead of sounding like some scrappy, mix-genre soundclash, 65 Days of Static take your pre-conceptions and smash them into a million pieces.

[...]It is pure passion, and it’s clear that 'The Fall of Math' was created to worship the beauty of music. Radiohead took three albums to become this adventurous and IDM is still too afraid to include live instruments on this level; when the Mercury Music Prize comes around the judges won’t go anywhere near this.

Go home, take your play safe indie-punk records and burn them. 65 Days of Static have their heads in 2007 and everyone else is thirty years behind…… Magnificent. (4.5/5)
- Simon Smerdon.

Now you have to admit that sounds promising. And in the interests of fairness, here's a tip on Efterklang (remarkably just a few days after purchasing it, totally not having heard of them or anything from it, The Guardian covered it in their 'On the Edge' section of the Friday Review).

John L Walters
Friday December 24, 2004
Efterklang's Tripper (Leaf, £14.99), though it springs from a similarly brave new soundworld, is richer and more appealing. It begins with bumps and clicks that seem to come from the deeper recesses of an otherwise mute laptop, or a hot-wired CD player. At times, this Danish band evokes the melancholy electronica of Christian Fennesz, or the pulses of Four Tet. But that's only part of the picture. After the bleak opening to Doppelgänger, for example, they add voices, then piano, then drums and before you know it there's a choir and we're wallowing in new kind of grandiose pop, a contemporary rethinking of 1980s outfits such as Japan, Tears for Fears and the Blue Nile. There are moments when their expert blend of "legit" instruments (trumpet, piano, strings) with electronic sounds recalls the work of ensembles such as the Kronos Quartet and Jaga Jazzist.

Step Aside starts with a fast, skittering laptop pulse and an understated boy/girl unison vocal that leads into a beautifully lazy trumpet melody and then a choir. The transition from ultra-small to big - from urgent and jittery to relaxed and cruising - is so effortless that you hardly hear what's going on at first listen. You just immerse yourself. There is another sensibility at play in Efterklang's work that is nothing to do with electronics - the obviously "now" aesthetics of clicks and throbs - and that is the free and uncliched approach to melody they demonstrate in songs such as Monopolist and Swarming. You can hear something similar in Rachel's, and in Craig Fortnam's music for the North Sea Radio Orchestra, who make a point of not using electronics.

What may inhibit Efterklang's bid for pop stardom is the absence of an obvious "lead singer", since they tend to foreground instrumental and textural elements. Their use of twin voices, though pleasant, can make the songs seem a little unfocused. But these are hardly quibbles at all - aren't we all weary of lead singers emoting ineffectually, incontinently all over the shop? The vocal subtlety is one of many things that makes Tripper an album to savour over time rather than one that delivers an immediate hit (in two senses of the word). This is the album to spend your tokens on. Five stars.

Our sentiments? Go buy them - you know it makes sense!

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