“Post-Rock is an anti–genre, impossible to fence in”; “open-ended, yet precise”; “British post-rock between 1990-4 is one of the most fascinating, nebulous and foreword-thinking periods in music”; “texture over riff and ambience over traditional rock hierarchies”.
These are a few of the selling points of post-rock, that period in the mid-nineties, that probably represented the last self-conscious stance of rock music, before it died (please see the previous blog).. It’s certainly the last period that I involved myself seriously in, although, to be frank, there wasn’t a lot of product emerging from this genre that I would seriously recommend to the notional later listener.
Jeanette Leech’s recent book on post-rock is a valiant attempt to present this music as a fascinating sub-genre. Unfortunately, most of the albums emerging from this scene are bloodless and ultimately not very memorable - name me one classic post-rock album? I was shocked the other day when listening to the first Tortoise album, to realise how boring it is. Why did I rate this album? Was it the hype? Tortoise by name…Ditto Spiderland, surely one of the most overrated albums of all time? And as for Math-Rock…
Leech’s book leads seamlessly on from Hepworth’s, with the convenient caesura of Kurt Kobain;s suicide,and the back story of the Post-Rock bands read like a Spinal Tap parody, earnest young musicians who really have little to make them in any way interesting, apart from the usual armamentarium of shifting leaderships and unconventional instruments. And usually terrible vocalists. Leech’s book describes the 90s avant rock scene in the UK and the USA in some detail, which was undoubtedly an exciting time in retrospect, but which ultimately produced very little in terms of classic material. Go on - name me a really great album by Disco Inferno, Laika, Moonshake, Seefeel or Butterfly Child?. Or, to be frank, the great Stereolab. Let’s hear it for Insides or Papa Sprain (or what’s left of ‘em). I did like Main though, and loved the Isolationalist strain (Kevin Martin) that led through to God Speed You Black Emperor.
Whatever my gripes, this was a very interesting decade. And probably the last before I gave up the ghost, either in reflection of the death of rock or because I am too old and my hair is too long.