Now that 2020 is finally over…
Many of us want to leave 2020 for what it is, but for some reason, it might be good to look back at this historical year. Musicwise!
As it was a year in which almost 1800 new releases came out, and artist had to find a new way to compose their music because of the lockdowns. Just like the past years I have made a list of 50 best postrock (and related) releases. Unlike other list that have appeared recently, I am not judging it with a rating, because it would be fair to compare different genres with eachother. At least, that’s my opnion. Instead of that, I have listed them in alphabetic order, starting with 40 albums and finishing with my personal Top 10.
I hope you enjoy this list and maybe find something you have missed last year.
Aesthesys – Alignments
The Russian band Aesthesys released their album Achromata in 2018, which took 7 years to compose. Alignments however, took them only two years. Still the band has made a lot of progress. Achromata’s successor takes off where they lef tus two years ago. Alignments is also a conceptalbum, but this time every track tells it’s own futuristic story. Musicwise, the band still uses the same ingredients, but added more influences from math-rock and progressive rock and metal. All-in all this album sees the band shifting more into progressive metal, but still has got their trademark violins and electronics.
Align in Time – On a Spiral
John Boles is the single person behind Align In Time. All instruments are done by himself. It took 9 years between his previous record ‘Me & my arrow’ and ‘On a spiral’. I think it was tie well spend, because John really made an impressive record. Check out the track This is later, for example. Starting with the drumroll, adding bass and guitars and thus building up his composition in a logical way. It builds with different guitars which creates a very nice layered structure. You’ll have to hear this song a couple of times to fully understand it. Don’t think you’ve heard it all though, because the next song will be totally different. Which makes this album so great because it doesn’t stick to a pattern.
All shall be well (and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well) – ZWARTGROEN
In January we had the privilege of premiering the first two singles for the new album Zwartgroen by Dutch postrockers All Shall Be Well And All Shall be Well an All Manner Of Things Shall Be Well. This ecentric band from Haarlem created their own world within the genre, because they do not confirm to stylistic rules. And ofcourse, that is the reason why you love or hate them. If you must, then the closest comparable band would be We Lost The Sea. At least, with Zwartgroen they didn’t break with their own tradition: combining two colours as an albumtitle. The complex structures of the songs makes it hard to describe the album. Or if to speak with a tracktitle on Zwartgroen: One day I will find the right words and they will be simple. It took me almost a year to find that simple word: addictive
And So I Watch You From Afar – Successors
And So I Watch You From Afar is one of those bands that has been highly influentual for other mathrock-bands. Their debut album from 2011 or their latest full-length The Endless Shimmering from 2017 left a remarkable footprint for others. In July the band from Belfast released a 3-track EP called Successors. This is more of an extension to the album Heirs from 2015, as it contains songs that didn’t make it to that album back then. The weird guitar-effects on this EP remind you that these songs come from the Heirs-era and not from the excellent The Endless Shimmering. It is also very clear why these songs are now released seperate, because they would have been fillers on such an expressive album.
Arms Of Tripoli – One Way Plastic
The history of Arms Of Tripoli goes way back into the 80’s, at least that’s what the band wants us to believe. The story is that all four members worked at the same frozen yoghurt stand in Hawthorne and made a bet about selling at least 17 pints of Very Berry Iced Routine by midnight. If they didn’t succeed they had to start a band with their manager and would call themselves Arms Of Lisa Loeb. Not knowing that there was actually a Lisa Loeb who had a hit with her song Stay (I missed you) back in the 90’s. Ofcourse this task was merely impossible, so they ended up learning to play an instrument for the next 30 years and finally forming the band. The name was changed to Arms Of Tripoli for obvious reasons. One Way Plastic contains no frozen yoghurt, but energetic, melodic postrock, leaning into progrock. Especially the album closer Lander, which ticks 11 minutes shows the exceptional skills this band has to offer.
Astodan – Bathala
This year, Belgian band Astodan have released their successor to their debut from 2018, called Ameretat. We find 6 tracks on Bathala with a total length of almost 51 minutes. The band uses 3 guitars, which makes it a difficult task to preserve this wall of sound into something still comprehensible. Astodan seems to manage it quit well and create a heavy dark layer upon their music. Inventive drumming together with driving pass parts form the basis of this masterpiece. Atmospheric soundscapes build up into massive outbursts while still maintaing their melodic intents are easily broken down in order to restore them to new climaxes.
Autism – Immersion
Autism from Vilnius, Lithuania, are masters in composing songs about disturbing and rather uncomfortable topics. My first acquitance with Autism was their album Film Noir, which falls quit heavy on your stomach at some points. Their second album Have You Found Peace? was a conceptalbum with a rather disturbing plot. The new record Immersion is about the struggle with anxiety and self-doubt and all the emotions that come with that. The album takes off with a jazzy vibe with Heatstroke #2 being followed by Falcon Machine. With a very long build up, taking almost 5 minute, it emerges into full anxious keyboard parts, remembering of old Rainbow or Deep Purple in their darkest days. The more bluesier song Monchrome Torpedo is based on a threatening baseline keeping you aware of hidden sharks at all time. In New Box we find a jazzy andsome sort of Southern American vibe, as if Carlos Santana himself had anything to do with it. I don’t want to give away all of the albums secrets, so I want describe every song. In the end the comfort of Immersion is more pleasant than it’s two previous albums. It’s easier digestible in comparison to them, which doesn’t mean this record is less interesting, it’s just a different approach with more room for sunlight.
Baikonur – Blackout (Live Session)
Blackout is a live session recorded by Baikonur at their headquarters in the heart of the city of Santiago. The session includes a selection of their songs intended to invite the listener to discover their instrumental rock, that ranges from calm passages to frantic sound explosions.
Bipolar Explorer – Deux Anges
It has been nine years since Summer Serafin lost her life in a tragic accident, but her voice still remains through the music of Bipolar Explorer. She was Michael Serafin-Wells’ love of his life and by using Summer’s voice, spoken words or singing, he keeps the memory of her alive. On this album you’ll not only hear Summer’s voice, but also Sylvia added some spoken words. Fate struck when Michael almost got killed in a car-accident suffering severe injuries followed by a near-fatal pulmonary embolism. Michael says: Adrift in those ten minutes when my heart ceased beating, a pulmonary event nearly always fatal, twin angels both celestial (Summer) and earthly (Sylvia), returned and guarded me from their vantages “on either side of the divide, enveloping me in love and protection. This album can be seen as a tribute to these twin angels (Deux Anges means Two Angels). Bipolar Explorer calls their music dreampop, I guess dreamrock would have been suitable as well. It’s some sort of psychedelic ride where harmonies are meandering like a flowing river. This album contains 30 songs and up until now I haven’t been able listening to the whole album at once, because it is too overwhelming. I actually consider this more as a compliment, because you can pick up this album over and over again and start dreaming, discovering new things.
Burial At Sea – A Burial At Sea
After a short ambient intro this album kicks off with You Really Did Grow After All, which is one of the best tracks of the album. The crashing drums and the thick dragging guitars are well complemented with the long horn-tones. It reminds me of certain songs by *Shels. The addition of brass in the music really tops it off. You’ll find the brass-section on almost every song by the way. Next up is Breezehome, which shows the technical skills of the band. It has this nice jazzy and funky vibe evolving into a nice upbeat rocksong. The groovyness continues with Nce From Afar, Far From …. But this song is much heavier and thus displaying a band with different faces. No need to get bored on this great album! Last song I would like to pick out, because I want you to explore the album yourself, is D’accord. This song has a more progressive alternative vibe, it’s high tempo and grooving guitars make this a noticeable track on the album as well. A Burial At Sea is an album with lots of different styles blended together. In theory it should work, but not every band executes it so well as these Liverpudlians do.
Caspian – On Circles
Being respected as one of the kings of post-rock, this band clearly doesn’t care for pressure. Going their own way, regardless of what fans might think of it, they walk new paths and keep developping their sound. Opening with Wildblood we are presented with calm guitars and sax, while a threatening bassline warns us for the upcoming. After two minutes all things have slowly collapsed into a 2 minute heavy striking plot. From the ashes it builds up again, as the bass still tells us to beware. And yes we have to endure another striking attack. What a way to enter! Flowers Of Light though gives us a moment to breathe as it follows the classic buildup before it ends in a huge climax. With Nostalgist the band breaks with the tradition and added vocals from Kyle Durfey (Pianos Become The Teeth) to the foreground. One of the longest tracks on this album is Division Blues in which the band from Massachusetts display one of their greatest skills: extreme building up into massive cresendos. Noteworthy is the longest song on the album, Ishmael, in which we can hear the cello played by guest-musician Jo Quail. And again Caspian show us why they are one of the kings of cresendo-laden post-rock.
Coastlands – Death
While their previous album (The Further Still) was more of a heavy postrock-album, It becomes clear from the start that Death has shifted the band into a more metallic sound. Given the fact that Death is mastered by Magnus Lindberg (from Cult Of Luna), this was to be expected. Feverwind is injected with some icecold chilling, almost blackmetal-like, guitarwork with pummeling drums and threatening bass-guitar. Listening close enough you’ll find the sublayers in this song and that this why Coastland has more to offer then just a wall of sound. The song Lay Waste reminds me of masters Ghost Brigade, as it has the same sort of angry dark melancholic vibe they mastered so well. Massive guitars and again layered textures in this song, make it one of the best songs on Death.
Coldbones – The Cataclysm
This three-piece band from Kent, UK, were contracted by Dunk! after the succes of their full-length debut Whare It All Began from 2018. In the meantime quickly releasing a nice cover-version of Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill, before coming up with their second longplayer: Cataclysm. The band knows it ways around within the typical postrock registers, but also adds their own characteristics to it. Check out the albumopener The Flood Of The World for example. It starts with some nice acoustic guitars and builds up by structuring layers and tension. When finally the distorted guitars fall in, you’ll be presented to the personal style of Coldbones. This mixture is what you may expect throughout the entire album. It may not be that original though, but it is executed very well. Fans of Long Distance Calling will definitely enjoy Coldbones as well!
Collapse Under The Empire – Everything we will leave beyond us
When I first heard of the German duo Collapse Under The empire, it was their album Sacrifice & Isolation (2014). The combination of the electronics and the guitar got me hooked to this band eversince. With their 2017 release The Fallen Ones, the band from Hamburg had me again. And also with the new 2020 album Everything We Will Leave Beyond Us there is still no sign of disappointment. Collapse Under The Empire haven’t played out the game of combining electronics with guitars, eventhough you could say they reached another level. All ingredients are still onboard, though used with a slight heavier touch, I’m glad that they didn’t leave anything behind.
Da Voile – The Air We Breathe
Last year, Da Voile from Minsk made it to my top 50 with his album Lilac On The Diary’s Pages. This year this one-man-band made it to the list again with The Air We Breathe. A majestic piece of art that combines beautiful melodies with atmospheric soundscapes. Those melodics stand out in the acoustic as well as the distorted parts, both properly dosed in each song. Da Voile is a skillful songwiter who deserves a greater podium outside Belarus!
Fleet Goes North – Circumnavigate
This Hungarian band made an epic complete album. To say that, itself means nothing, so let me explain why. This band takes the essential elements of postrock a little further. Building up to cresendos is nothing new, but what if you take some parts from the buildup and use them later in your climaxes and furtheron in your music. Then all of a sudden you have created a musical landscape. A point of view you have already seen during the road to the top, which you’ll visit once you’re at the top and will remain to see on the way down. This cinematic way of creating landscapes is what this band does very well.
GLACIERS – Buried Inside
This Oakland 4-pice worked 2 years on 3 songs. It must be good then, right? Well, yes it is. The songs are quit good balanced and nicely arranged. Opener The Brave Son bulds up by introducing the instruments after each other and builds up into a sort of drone. Ascender feels like a continuation of the first song and adds some more groove to it. Impossible to not sway your head here. Midway the band breaks it up and starts something totally different and make some space for the bass and drums before ending up all together. This also applies for the last song Clouds Of Fire. An EP with different faces and a lot to discover.
hubris. – Metempsychosis
Metempsychosis is a term for the reincarnation of the soul. It migrates into another body after death. The Greek believed that body and soul were connected and can only be disconnected after the body died, the soul will find another body as the wheel of birth continues. This body holds the soul like it’s prisoner. Orpheus says that these body need the mercy of blessing gods like Dionysus and need to live as pure as possible in order to enrich the soul. Untill it has reached it’s goal: to live solely like a god. In short, that’s what metempsychosis is about and you’ll find that in the music on this album as well. Where the first song Hepius seems to die at the end it swells up, because the soul is set free from the body, transmigrating into the next song Dionysus. A nice uptempo song that towards the end slows down into serene piety before smoothly migrating into Adonis. All songs are named after greek gods and tell the story of these gods. Especially the finishing track Heracles (also know as Hercules) is a very interesting song as one can imagine the trials Heracles had to endure before rising up to Mount Olympus after is death.
I Am Waiting For You Last Summer – Self-defense
What happens when someone is living in a big city, completely isolation from others, solely on its own, surrounded by omnipresent digitalization? The answer can be found on Self-defense. All be it that these Russians from Ryazan (100km southeast of Moscow) used analog synthesizers and real guitars. The addition of industrial fuzzes and noises add-up to the cinematic drama though. Check out Hidden Agenda for example. This song is reflect the theme very well.
In:Tides – Silent Dusk
The Glasgow cinematic postrockband In:Tides have managed to release a very interesting 4-track piece of art. They differ in their traditional postrock-approach, because the buildups to the climaxes are shorter and last longer. That also leads to the disadvantage of the buildups being a little abruptly. Productionwise they have done a great job, as there is enough spae for every instrument and still the ambience can flow through.
In2Elements – Cycles
Polish trio In2Elements started only in 2017 as a Adam Szopa’s solo-project and released 2 albums: World to Come EP and full-length Cold. Especially Cold was praised worldwide. In 2019 they becae a full band with the addition of Krzysztov Rutka (Transmission Zero) and Michal Szendzielorz (Gallileous). Together they raised the bar even further with a new full-length called Cycles. The amazing artwork suits the beauty of this record. The new members worked on the idea’s of Adam and transformed it into a band-album. Hard to believe there are only 3 members though…
itlookslikeablackhole – This will be a year to forget
There is one thing so true about this album-title, but on the other hand it has lead us to be creative and that gave us much in return. So, mixed feelings about this. But not to worry, this is not an album to forget. These guys from Sacremento stand out with their layered structures, giving this album the impossibility to comprehend it at once. Elements of shoegaze, atmospheric postrock, noise and ambient are intertwined into the music naturally, which makes it easy to listen to this album over the next years as well.
Jardín de la Croix – Letargo
Coming from Spain (don’t be misled by their French name), Jardin De La Croix play an addictive mixture of symphonic progrock they infuse with djent and mathrock. On this two-track EP they show us their capabilities of intertwining those three subgenres as one. A majestic piece of work so to say. Big melodies fill up the wall of sound, without throwing you of the track. This one slings you like a racecar from corner to corner through the chicane. But where a chicane is meant to slow down traffic, this band just accelarates before suddenly coming to a hold at the end of the track. And then you want another ride.
Lowercase Noises – Matter
Andy, the man behind Lowercase Noises, decided to make an album dedicated to his 5 children, although one of them never got the chance to live life. His music has always been very slow, but that doesn’t always mean sad. As a matter of fact, the first song The Things Your Eyes Have Seen starts quite uplifting before ending with some sad cello. The song intertwines with Peeling Crayons which creates a lullaby-ish mood with some nice soundscapes underneath that continues into The Darkness Is As Light. Also a very nice dreamy ambient-laden track. Lowercase Noises masters the power of ambience on all of these 18 tracks, creating soundscapes as if they were a storybook you read at night before bedtime of your kids.
NOIR REVA – Continuance
Noir Reva from Koblenz, Germany, released their second longplayer this year. Their debut came out in 2016 and was called Nuance, so Continuance seems to be the logic follow-up. And indeed it is. The 4 members did progress and created a very soothing atmospheric postrock album. I’m not sure if the band used clasic string instruments, but it increases the atmosphere on some songs for sure.
Noswal – Pangaea
As we tend to place music into so-called pigeon-holes, this wont go for Pangaea from one-man-band Noswal. The name is just his last-name spelled backwards and that leads us to Nick Lawson. A highly skilled musician who likes to mix all kinds of rock sub-genres into his music. Don’t be surprised to hear parts of metal, progrock, indie, alternative, postrock or sludge combined with each other. Maybe we should call this multirock and Nick Lawson invented it. All songs are very comprehensible though and the arrangements sound very logic. Sometimes Nick is taking back some gas, while second later he’s full throttle again. Pangaea is a great multirock album by a very talented musician.
Qualia – In Perpetuum
In Perpetuum is fronted with a drawing of Albert Robida, who was a French science-fiction illustrator. It suits the music of Qualia. It’s futuristic music is made by Dan Leader from Cambridge and could best be described as minimalistic atmospheric noiserock, for what is worth ofcourse. Qualia is music that’s goes under your skin, whether it’s the eerie noise in a song like Mistakes, or the soaring soundscapes of Falling Away, it moves you. Sometimes dreamlike, sometimes disturbing, but In Perpetuum takes you away to another world. Just like Albert Robida intended to do.
Quiet Is The New Loud – Hidden code
Seldom has a band created an abum in combination with it’s artwork where you need both to understand the complete story. Hidden Code will be shipped together with clues in the form of old-made pictures that help you lead to solve the mistery of Penelope. Did she even exist? Musicwise Quiet Is The New Loud takes its influences clerly from bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor. When not trying to unravel the story, but just listening to the music, you’ll hear a band which whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And just like Aristotle was right about that, these Italians are not outshining each other, but every member plays his role in this teameffort.
rhubiqs – Migratory Paths
Tom Squires is the man behind rhubiqs from London, UK. His music is best described as a tender form of electronic postrock. As we put on Migratory Paths we follow the footsteps into a journey through the garden untill we are left alone and wonder where we have been taken. Not often do we here a xylophone these days naymore, but it adds a nice extra colour to the palette. Next up is Falling, a cover-version of the famous theme from Twin Peaks. Undone of its original pompous synths, you wouldn’t recognize it at first instance. Not giving away to many details, there’s one more track to be highlighted: Sumburgh Head. It starts with soundscapes from a shoreline followed by swelling ambient synths, (which are perfect for relaxation) later on joined by some piano. Still swelling the song evolves towards the end, building up to a climax, but leaves us with a cliffhanger. All-in-all a very nice debutalbum. Personally I would have kept the remix-version of The Beacon from the album, but that’s my own personal opinion.
Scaphoid – Absent passages
Matt Hobart is the mastermind behind Scaphoid, as it is his solo-project in which he creates a sort of melting-pot between post-rock en progrock. Technically he has done a great job on Absent Passages. A lot of nice riffing, spacey parts, accoustics on guitar and piano, this album offers a lot. There is however a geat ‘but’ to this album. Because the emphasis was placed on the technicallity, which is outstanding, it became also very clinical, almost like a showcase. Maybe Matt could try to breath a bit more life into his next album.
Sleep Dealer – Destruction
Sleep Dealer are from Russia and have landed their EP Destruction with 3 post-metal songs on it. Opener Destruction contains nice shredded riffs with haunting guitars underneath. Second up is Funeral, which is a total different track compared to Destruction. No deep shredding riffs, but a more typical shoegaze-like guitarwork, well executed though. The last song is called Revival, the slowest of all 3 songs and starts out balladesque, building up to this great powerhouse at the end of the song. Sleep Dealer delivers with Destruction 3 totally different, but interesting tracks. Looking forward to a new full-length of them.
Sleeping Bear – Vorokhtah
Whatever you do, don’t search the internet for images of Sleeping Bear! This band was formed in the winter of 2011 (the period that bears still sleep normally) in Kiev, Ukraine. In 2014 they released their debut-album and so far their only full-length. Vorokhtah is again an EP, containing two fine postrock-songs. When Rivers Become A Waterfall is the perfect metafore that describes the forming of a river before it emerges into a wild river before it ends as a waterfall. Phantom swells in as a giant ambient wave, after about 3 minutes a nice groove sets in which gives it a spacey touch and finally the song ablazes. Looking forward to a new full-length of this fine Ukrainian band.
Still Motions – Mirrors
Imagine yourself on a porge, looking out at a beautiful sunset. What music would you play then? Probabely it’s a good idea to put on Mirrors by Still Motion. Their shimmering melodies seem to have been written in this sunset. Building up crescendos with a nice tension slowly feels like this band has been around for many years. But in fact Mirrors is the debutalbum of this Phoenix, Arizona based band.Despite the perfect setting, this album is no filler, instead you probably enjoy it the most played on your headphones.
TEMPUS – DABA
This Latvian duo have released their third album this year and made some consitent growth. Daba contains six powerful post-metal tracks with influences from Math-rock and progressive metal. Tempus’ strength lies within the ability to create great melodies and powerful riffs, the drums are not over the top, rather functional, making the music very comprehensible. Great job, given the fact that this is a two-men band.
The Echelon Effect – Drift Ten
David Walters is solely responsible for everything you’ll hear on The Echelon Effect’s music. Which is remarkable, because of all the elements that can be heard in his music. And, David is a very productive man. He released two full-length albums this year: Drift Ten and Drift Static. His music feels familiar, it comforts you with a common sense of warmth. You may start wandering, but you’ll never get lost. The atmosphere carried by the ambiance, the glockenspiel, the warm bass-sound, The easing pianonotes, it all makes you feel at home, even when your not. The endless runway on the frontcover reflects it perfectly, either you’re coming home or you’re leaving, The Echelon Effect will be your guidance.
The Illusion Of Free Will – Into the night
Actually, The Illusion Of Free Will has a lot in common with The Echelon Effect. Both are one-man bands and do everything themselves. Musicwise they operate within the same spectrum. Ricardo Vela, the man behind all this, uses less instruments: Just ambient soundscapes and a guitar. No drums or bass, which makes it very clean and dreamy. The songs are quite short and this EP contains only 4 tracks. That feels like a minor, because I could listen to The Illusion Of Free Will much longer.
threestepstotheocean – Del Fuoco
Like most Italian metalbands, Threestepstotheocean tend to smear their music into a vacuum wall of sound. Occasionally they keep it open and let it breathe. Ofcourse it has a layered structure which let you find new things with every new listen. This post-rock infused post metalband from Milan love to use repetitive riffs, based by the driving bass makes it feel pretty psychedelic. The sound of the guitars are similair to that genre. Still this band is capable of creating a heavy and fresh sound. The addition of the keyboards in songs like Fiori Immortali add even more pschydelics. The song Profezie Dalle Rovine has a lot of keyboards and together with the haunting guitars it reminds to some Polish black metalbands from the 90’s. The production is a little fuzzy, but that could be done deliberately, because it fits the music well.
Vogor – Vol. I
Like the albumtitle already suggests, Vol I is the debutalbum of Icelandic postrockband Vogor. Although its members are also members of another postrockband called Stafrænn Hákon, operating in the same genre. Vogor follows a differnt path in terms of composing their music. It all started with some harpmelody ideas that have been worked out to complete songs. The harp itself remained an important factor and is often placed in front of the sound. For this record three other musicians were summoned to give the album an extra touch including trombone and tuba. The band has described their music (and I quote) ‘… as a fusion between neo-classical music and joyous lofi rock where delicate harp melodies are embraced by uninhibited sonic power, together forming inventive soundscapes and textures for the 21st century human mind and heart alike.’ So true…
Whale Fall – It Will Become Itself
This is what could happen when a band starts playing with some ideas. Whale Fall gathered to work out some ideas on the night of June 4th, 2018. Not knowing they would non-deliberately record their next album that night. At first the recordings were put away on the shelf, but listening them back, it shook the band of what they had acheived that night. All elements that make Whale Fall the band they are were present and so not much had to be done to this recording. Only a few elements were added and polished, but the majority of the recording remained intact. You could entitle it as a jamsession though, but it turned out damn good then.
When Waves Collapse – Movements II
The Netherlands are not very famous because for their amount of postrockbands, or it must be because of the small amount of those bands here. But there certainly are some pearls in the string. Earlier we discussed All shall be well (and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well) from Haarlem, the second band is When Waves Collapse from Den Bosch. Actually it’s a bit of foul play, because this one-man-band is formed by Travis J. Wiltshire, who is a born American but now resides in Den Bosch. As a scientist he is connected to the university of Tilburg as an Assistant Professor in Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence, which maybe explains his scientific approach of his music. When you put out songtitels like ‘Temporal perpetuation of the biocentric mutation sequence’ or ‘Relating through projections of a holographic universe’, I haven’t got any clue what’s it about. Musicwise though… Travis creates a mixture of shoegaze and postmetal, and has step-outs to postrock and ambient, while also using fieldrecordings as soundscapes. All his songs are inspired by sience, but that doesn’t mean you need a university grade to understand his music.
Here’s my personal top 10:
And here’s my personal best ‘post-rock and related’ top10 releases from 2020:
Almøst Silent – A frame for a day in your life
Where some ambient records can be boring, others use the genre to create interesting songstructures. Almøst Silent combines ambient soundscapes with electronics and some acoustic postrock instruments to create great and original melodies. All songs have their very own experimental structure, making this a very diverse album. The man behind it is Guy Teixeira, who resides near Paris, France. A Frame For A Day In Your Life is a reflection about how things often are not what they seem, and how we shape these moments to fit our needs and expectations.
Barrens – Penumbra
Barrens’ debut is a hybrid between instrumental post-metal and a lot of synthesizers. Their sound could best be described as cosmic, because it has such a wide array of sound, but they all are very clearly in the mix. Eventhough the use of fuzzy guitars, their sound seems to have a unique 180° soundspectrum in which every instrument has enough space. The way the members use their instruments is unique as well, because sometimes you can’t figure out if they used a guitar or a synthesizer. The big stranger in our midst is Shifter, which is more tending to dark wave, but still has a Barrens-sound to it. Once you played this albummore often, you’ll notice that some tracks are on the album to prepare you for the one next to it. Lie Antumbra is lining up for Atomos and Penumbra is flattening the road for The Passing. I sure hope to hear more from this band in the future
Flies Are Spies From Hell – Final Quiet
This London-based band doesn’t create melodies, they create themes. Final Quit is a piano-led postrock album of majestic proportions. Check for example Last Hour in which the piano almost carries the complete song by itself. The concept of the album is about losing others, whether they are lovers, friends or relatives, that’s for you to decide. All instruments play their role around the piano. Flies Are Spies From Hell created complex orchestral structures, but they are very easy to listen to. That gives you to the ability to find out more as you dig deeper into the songs.
I Hear Sirens – Stella Mori
With the albumtitle chosen so perfectly, Stella Mori means the death of a star, one can relate to the music on this album very easily. It reflect the cosmic emptyness, the sad lonelyness and the beauty it holds within that. The atmosphere the guitars and the piano create with albumopener Orsus is chilling but welcoming at the same time. It’s the perfect start for our journey into space, as anxiety crawls into our skin while In Tenebris begins. Self confidence is slowly coming back as we head off into space. Sit back and enjoy this flight. Ofcourse this metaphore is meant to look back at our life here on earth, what did we do to end up like this?
Long Distance Calling – How do we want to live
No albumtitle could have been chosen better than this for a 2020 release. Although I am sure the band couldn’t have realized the outcome at the time they picked the title. Actually the title questions the lightning-fast development of the digital age in which we live today. The band did not use any samples, all voices you’ll hear come from friends that recorded a sort of voice-overs to some songs. How Do We Want To Live have closed the gap somehow between postrock en traditional rock and metal, given the number of magazines that picked this album als their album of the month this summer. And why not, This album is, just like its predecessor Boundless heavy enough to be featured in those papers. But it also holds enough room for more modest parts, like even some strings come along in Fail/Opportunity. Since we already made the comparison with boundless, there is enough diversity on this new album, something for everyone
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Panøpsis – Amorphous beginnings
Amorphous is a term from physics and chemistry: amorphous material or an amorphous substance is a solid without a crystalline structure. That being said, let’s see what the band had to say about their albumtitle: In the creation of this album, we are inspired by the amorphous, unpredictable circularity in nature. First song, “Under Terra”, focuses on the unnoticed process of this circularity and leads to a dark ambient atmosphere. With the second song, “Regreening”, the album is turning into a dynamic and energetic sound. Last song, “Growing Down”, highlights that the process of growing can take any form. Amorphous Beginnings contains 3 very nice instrumental postrocksongs in which the bands gives the leadng role to guitars and keyboards. In Regreening, the first half is for the guitars en the second half is for the keyboards, giving this song actually two faces.
Solkyri – Mount Pleasant
This awesome record hits off with the highly energetic Holding Pattern, that only slows down halfway before ending it with a muscular last minute. First punch delivered! Next up is Potemkin. It also start with an energetic rhythm while the guitars battle and the bass is the referee. It has hinches of prog, punk, and above all cheery guitars. Pendock Progress continues to that and the word tht submerges more and more is ‘fun’. This music is happy and you can hear the band enjoying themselves. Who said postrock always has to be sombre and dark. Solkyri proves the opposite.
The Sun Burns Bright – In death we rest
One of the most surprising albums of the year! We had played some tracks from it before its releases, but were blown away at the online release Oktober 15th. The drums (by Dan Lyon) kick off the album with Black Abyss and immediately take your breath. This so different from his first two records, because in those albums everything was building up to a climax. Not now, this time we’re coming through the door without opening it. What immediatly stands out is that the sound is well produced and every instrument is very good in the mix. Especially the bass, it’s got that nice thundering roll. One of the higlights of the album has been saved for last: The Magnitude Of Solace. Chris Garr, the main songwriter behind The Sun Burns Bright, really painted a nice pallet here. The album has been tributed to his deceased father, I’m sure he would have been proud of his sons work.
Wolfredt – Tides
Wolfredt from Tallinn, Estonia, started out as a one-man-band by Magnus Voolpriit, and releaed two albums in 2013 and 2016, but then realized that more members would help him to create more melodies and sustain a better powerhouse. And that’s exactly how this record kicks off. The Flood is coming at you without a warning and overwhelms you grasping or air. Despite its title, the Walrus Song gives you a chane to escape and relax for a moment, but don’t forget to enjoy the nice melodies in this song. Tides is about the ebb and flood, but more in a metaphoric way of speach. It’s about the ups and downs in life and things like that. In that way every song has its own emotion and story to tell. Noticeable track on the record is The Forgotten Man, as it is the only song on the record with the addition of trombone and trumpet.
Zealand The North – Brightness of an Endless Light
You might except otherwise, but this band is from Austin, Texas. Brightness Of An Endless Light is the second release for them and gives us atmospheric postrock occasionally dropping to mathrock and a little progrock. Their sound is very twinkly, soneone said. And I totally agree with him, because that’s the right word to describe this great album. Twinkly it is.
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