Study Music #1: Post-Rock

With midterm season arriving for university students across North America, many people look for good music to study too. This is the first in what will be a couple posts exploring different options for study music.

What is Post-Rock?

Post-rock developed in the early 1990s; from here it developed into a style of largely instrumental music that incorporated some parts of rock (mainly the instruments,)  sometimes mixed with elements  of jazz, minimalism and musique concrète, while ditching the standard rock structure. Post-rock uses instruments to create more than anything else, a soundscape, a layer of textures, and has large variations in dynamics. The term can be confusing, as the different bands which are said to fall in this genre can vary quite a bit in their sound, especially as some of them veer off into experimental rock. I’m going to be honest. Half the time, post-rock is a stupid definition, because it really doesn’t mean anything. But anyways:

Explosions in the Sky are sweet. They fit right into the soundscape, layers of sound, meant to cause emotion motif. Thank God for small miracles. Their album All Of  A Sudden I Miss Everyone is overall a decent album, with a couple great cuts. Recommended tracks: ‘Welcome, Ghosts’, ‘The Birth and Death of Day’, ‘Your Hand In Mine’. Here is ‘First Breath After Coma’ mp3.

Sigur Ros (along with Mogwai,) are probably the best known post-rock band. From Iceland, these guys incorporate classical elements into their music, and were active from the release of their first album in 1997, till they went on a hiatus in January of 2010. This track is from the first album, Agaetis Bjryun. Featuring horns, a chamber choir, and even an outro by what could be a pan whistle, this is a great track. Also check out ‘Svefn-G-Englar’, and ‘Flugufelsarinn’ from this album, the former being the first single they released. Get ‘Olsen Olsen‘: mp3 .

Mogwai, mentioned already, are another one of post-rock’s bigger names. They are one of a few bands that have rejected the label of post-rock, stating that it overanalyzes the music. A fantastic band without a doubt, and perhaps my favourite of all those mentioned in this post. They have a great range of material, going from soft to heavy, and as is a feature of post-rock, often having large dynamic range in their songs. Included here is the track ‘Summer’ from their first album, Mogwai Young Team, and ‘Rano Pano’, and ‘Too Raging To Cheers’, from their album released in February of this year, Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will. Highly recommend both albums. ‘Summer’: mp3 ‘Rano Pano’: mp3 ‘Too Raging To Cheers’: mp3.

We’ll end with Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven is on Q’s list of ’50 Heaviest Albums Of All Time.’ How good this list is, is another matter – but regardless. They’re on Constellation Records music label, which asides from being anti-capitalist, has a number of interesting bands on it, that with a little shudder I will say are ‘post-rock’. Stupid term. These guys were also mentioned in Pineapple Express, when Seth Rogen’s character says to his girlfriend: “You are gonna go to college next year. You’ll get into Godspeed You! Black Emperor and the fucking Shins, and you’ll blow a bunch of dudes and become a lesbian.” [Note: this is a joke. The film’s director later said that he likes Godspeed You! The Shins are also wicked.]  Their debut album  consisted of four continuous tracks, with individual movements in them. Check out the third track clocking in at 23:18, ‘Sleep’, on Youtube.

This post’s international track comes form Sigur Ros, who are from Iceland.

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