The Post-rock Revolution (Explosions in the sky)
A lot has been said about the 'post-rock' revolution as of late. The rise of instrumental bands such as Explosions in the sky, Godspeed you! black emperor, Maserati, and The Mercury Program has raised questions about the direction that music is traveling. More and more people are looking for something different, something fresh. We are sick of the same pop songs being shoveled down our throats, we are sick of mindless rap, we are sick of mindless rock. We are sick of mindless music. So what happens when you remove the vocal aspect of music? It becomes exceedingly difficult to fall into the 'mindless' category; the instrumental soundscapes allow your mind to apply its own story to the music. It's remarkable what happens when you let the listener dictate the theme of the music.
For the most part, the success of post-rock has been an underground phenomenon. However moving into the new age of music using the internet and file sharing as a hub, what will we be seeing in the future? Explosions in the Sky have recently scored one major hollywood movie and provided tracks for another, so obviously someone is listening to their music and finding a mainstream use for it. With the rise of the internet, it's now possible for entirely new genres to expose themselves to a widespread audience with minimal financial backing. Instead of playing shows for 10 people for months before being picked up for a statewide tour, bands can simply release their album online and let the music spread on its own.
Explosions in the Sky are the perfect example of this new market. While this tiny band from Texas may not be selling millions of records, their presence is well known on the internet and many underground circles. Instead of actively working against the spread of their music via "illegal" means the band allows their shows to be taped and distributed for free throughout the internet. (For some great live videos, check out this site ) This allows not only for their music to reach more listeners, but when file sharers stumble upon a band that isn't actively fighting against them, or labeling them as criminals, they generally do what they can to help the band, and more importantly the band's mindset, proliferate.
It's quite difficult to describe exactly what draws people to this band. Their music is simplistic at times, with a single echoing guitar melody and a droning bass line, but the songs always give the sense that something is happening, something behind the music. Every song will shrink and grow, building off slowly, and eventually climaxing with layered guitars, thundering drums and bass, only to descend again, and start the process over. With music orchestrated as if playing a soundtrack to an imaginary movie, allowing the listener to create their own worlds to accompany the sounds. Many people are reminded of lush mountain ranges, open skies and green pastures, still others describe the music as the perfect complement to an underwater epic. Perhaps you will find that the music would lend itself to old time war pictures? This is the brilliance of instrumental music; a choose your on adventure, with sounds.
While bands like Godspeed you! Black emperor have been making this type of music for a few years now, more and more labels are taking the risk by signing 'unknown' post-rock acts, the number of bands in this genre has skyrocketed in the past few years. If the currents continue, we may just be seeing bands like Explosions in the Sky on MTV and Much Music in the near future. With this in mind we can look forward to the indie backlash and accusations of 'selling out' running rampant. Oh well, at least the bands will have money to keep making music. I guess that's the business.
Chris Elkjar is the founder of 'trust.me' an online music magazine for the enthusiast. He spends all of his spare time immersed in music, be it writing reviews, interviews with leading bands or writing his own music.
For more of his writing, check out Trust-Me.ca - Music for robots
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