Sankt Otten - Engtanz Depression
The genre formerly known as post-rock has had a long, convoluted, and troubled history. It was originally used in print by the rock critic Simon Reynolds to describe bands like Talk Talk and Bark Psychosis, who were bringing in elements of less whitebread music - disco, African rhythms, jazz, krautrock, and Jamaican dub -- and extending their structures to more widescreen classical formats, and blending them with the primal fury of rock 'n roll. Post-rock may have also been the last and greatest victim of co-option and conformity (or can at least share that honor with dubstep), before finally succumbing to postmodern dissolution for good. What became of post-rock? Oh-so-serious dudes in black clothes with long band names, mindlessly aping Mogwai and Explosions In The Sky, turned what could have been the most promising mixture of head and heart, guts and chops into a marketing cliché. Thankfully, the German instrumental duo Sankt Otten rewind the clock with Engantz Depression, and make us reassess the possibilities of blending rock instruments with electronic music for a compelling hybrid that takes post-rock back to its roots, to begin again.

 

thisquietarmy Hex Mountains Denovali Records (2013)Hex Mountains is a black mass, that rends the veil of consensual reality, plunging the listener into a twilight afterlife of elder gods and ancient wisdom. It's good to have post-rock back. For years, it seemed that all the genre could produce was ham-fisted Mogwai knock-offs that lost the emotional subtlety and expansive listening habits of the original movement. Imitators with long names sucked the marrow right out of post-rock's bones until it was an embarrassment, a shell of its former self. People forgot how thrilling it could be to combine the crushing weight of metal with the sonic possibilities of electronic music, and the weird eeriness of drone. The Denovali Records release of two albums from Montreal drone alchemist Eric Quach, who has released over 50 albums under the name thisquietarmy, suggest that this is about to change, and that it is again okay to appreciate epic instrumental rock 'n roll; people are finding new and interesting things to do with the format. Hex Mountains suggests a new phase in Thisquietarmy's extensive catalog. After touring with heavyweights like Year Of No Light and Deafheaven, Eric Quach wanted to turn up the intensity. He shattered the traditional isolation of TQA's somnolent soundscapes, to enlist members of Alashan, Northumbria and Monarch. It's some of his most pummeling work to date.

John Lemke - People Do Album ReviewJohn Lemke People Do Denovali Records, 2013The world of Germany-born, Glasgow-based composer and sound designer John Lemke is a rich and varied one. Working in a variety of media, so as to enable him explore his fascination with music and "all things sonic", he has dipped his fingers into a variety of collaborative pies, ranging from live performance and film sound design, to work as a documentary composer for British television broadcasters such as the BBC. An accomplished manipulator of the recorded aural environment, Lemke seeks, in People Do, his debut solo album, to fuse the emotive elements from his film work with a sense of rhythm and space. With a stated aim of marshaling his abstract sonic palette to create a "danceable, electro-acoustic whole", the effect achieved is one of a highly visual journey that inhabits the realm of memory channelled and interpreted through objects and their collected histories. Lemke explains that his first inspiration was found in the "idiosyncratic sound world of his grandmother's piano. With a shimmering past in the silent film era of 1920's Berlin, its very fabric was full of anecdotes."