Post Rock

(I wrote this on a facebook music group I belong to earlier today. It didn’t get much of a reaction so I thought I’d clean it up a bit and re post it here. It might be cheating a bit as counting towards my one post a day, but there you go :P)

I’d always thought “post-rock” was a stupid name for a genre since it implied that rock (or indie or fuzzy music with guitars or whatever you want to call it), had reached something of a terminal point, that this was its culmination: since what could possible come after post-rock? Post-post-rock? But, looking back in retrospect maybe it was an accurate designation after all since rock music did in fact stop being sonically interesting and/or innovative after the whole post-rock thing finally petered out and rock music at least stopped pretending to be anything but completely derivative of the past — and some really good bands like the Brian Jonestown Massacre, actually started revelling in the extent of the debt they owed to their predecessors.

What can you do nowadays to sound different, what is there left to do, where is there left to go within the confines of the whole guitar/drum/bass format? You want sheer white noise? Atonality? Non-western scales? Sampling and/or Cut ups? Dance music/Electronica-Rock fusion? Drone? Pure guitar torture? Putting aside the fact that “classical” composers like Cage, or Steve Reich or some of the more out there jazz musicians like Sun Ra or Derek Bailey had pioneered most of these innovations decades earlier, and sticking to the confines of what we’re loosely calling “rock music” it had all been done by the late 90s, early 00′.

That’s why I hold OK Computer to be such a masterpiece, because it really feels like one last great hurray for rock music, as a really innovative genre that thrived in great part through pushing the sonic envelope and through the fact that each new generation of musicians took pride in “sounding” different from their immediate predeccessors (even if like with punk, they were referencing sounds that were much earlier). Thom Yorke et al freely acknowledged the debt they owed to the Post-Rock genre at the time. As a (relatively speaking) mainstream rock album it really did sound completely different to what had gone before and therefore firmly took its position in the line of great rock sonic experiments, all the way from the Beatles, Hendrix and Eno, to Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine.

But nowadays it’s no longer enough to ransack old old Sun Ra, can, Miles Davis, Throbbing Gristle, Jeff Mills records for inspiration, since that’s already been done to death. Long gone are the days when you could name drop La Monte Young, Scott Walker or Faust in an interview and be assured of a corresponding infusion of kudos and respect.

I didn’t really get too much into post-rock way back when even if one of my favourite bands ever is Labradford. I thought much more interesting things were going on in “dance music” at the time especially in Detroit Techno and on labels like Warp or Mo Wax.


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