Grec 2009 Concert Series
In his March 1994 review of the album Hex for Mojo magazine, British music critic Simon Reynolds used the term post-rock to describe the music of the group Bark Psychosis. Although it was not the first time the label was used, Reynolds's text is usually cited as the foundation milestone par excellence of this non-genre.
According to Reynolds, post-rock embraces a new way of conceiving rock in which the exploration of timbre prevails over harmonic progression, and instrumental and abstract elements prevail over literal and narrative ones; a kind of rock that doesn't want to stop at just being rock, and integrates the advances in rhythm and texture that emerged from electronica, jazz, hip-hop and Jamaican dub; a kind of rock that, without rejecting the past (its wide stylistic range allows frequent glimpses of the legacy of German Krautrock or the Rock In Opposition of Henry Cow and Art Bears), resists reiterating it.
But post-rock cannot be identified and classified exclusively by its stylistic constants: it has many discourses, and all kinds of audiences. This may explain why the term is often thrown around without much thought, and why it is often conceptualised simply according to the subjectivity of the person using it. There are those who want to see it as the recuperation of the essences of seventies German rock, a return to progressive rock, while others celebrate the (apparent) surrender of guitars to the (apparently) infinite possibilities of the electronic medium. Some even connect it to the post-punk of the early eighties through the influence of Jamaican music. In reality all of them —and none of them— are right. In its essence, post-rock is actually defined by what it is not: traditional, pre-codified, easy to consume.
More futurist than postmodern, but not very belligerent and thus without the media impact required for commercial success, post-rock developed on the margins of the market and uses the same circuits as many of the other stylistic fragmentations of the «alternative» scene. All in all, if something can be called ‘post-rock', it is an attitude: in favour of singularity and curiosity, of the freedom to choose aesthetically and of experimentation outside of dogmas and canons.
Thursday 2, 9, 16 & 23 July at 9 pm
Thursday July 2nd
Mark Nelson, founder of Labradford, one of the most singular post-rock projects in the US and founders of so-called ambient-rock, created Pan·American in the late nineties as an outlet for his growing interest in electronica and dub. With a unique sound that spans Brian Eno's classic ambient, experimental techno and high-risk rock, Nelson has so far released six albums under the pseudonym Pan·American. The most recent of these, White Bird Release (Kranky, 2009), confirms him as one of the essential names in the least conformist reaches of modern popular music.
Thursday July 9th
1099 are a Trondheim-based Norwegian outfit with a variable line-up —a quartet that expands to a sextet for live shows— with an understanding of post-rock that fits into the instrumental tradition of Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Mogwai and Explosions In The Sky: an epic, tense, cinematic sound in constant crescendo culminating in oversaturated climaxes in which acoustic instrumentation –saxes, violins, cellos- provides the perfect counterpoint to balance rage, intensity and sensibility. They are currently in the process of recording what will be their first album, but in the meantime the only 1099 release to date, the self-produced «Fire! Machine!
Ghost!», proved to be one of the big underground hits of 2008.
Thursday July 16th
From the rock coordinates that situated their first work —Flares (Resonant, 2005)— to the electronic premises underlying their last two releases —the album Afraid to Dance (Resonant, 2007) and the remix compilation Flared Up (Resonant, 2008), with a host of collaborations including Fizzrum, Manual, F.S. Blumm and Ulrich Schnauss,— Genovese outfit Port Royal have mapped out a course of research and abstraction culminating in a sound in which pop sensibility meets the rhythmic geometry of IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) and the refinement of ambience. Port Royal, together with the French M83, can be considered the leading exponents of post-rock immersed in electronica.
Thursday July 23rd
An essential figure in contemporary avant-garde rock, David Grubbs was frontman for three projects that would subsequently branch out into what could almost be described as the family tree of US nineties post-rock: Squirrel Bait, Bastro and Gastr del Sol. An occasional member of the legendary Red Krayola, Grubs has also worked with Tony Conrad, Matmos, Mats Gustafsson, Loren Conners and Pauline Oliveros, among many others, and runs the label Blue Chopsticks. He is also at the helm of a splendid solo career, with his most recent project An Optimist Notes The Dusk (Drag City, 2008) already considered one of the highlights of his oeuvre.
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