Petricor enter our awareness with their debut release on Fluttery Records. What better place to start! First Breath releases during a year that has seen a resurgence of quality releases after what some have said has been a drought in instrumental music. Fitting that Petricor is the name they chose to help frame their identity. Emotive, crescendo brimming Post Rock at its finest. Even the album art can be seen as the duality of the internal narrative. Their music toes the thin line between introspect and what we project to those around us to see, or hear for that matter.
First Breath rises from the sediment and ash like a heat wave you can see through the distance. Frail waves of texture deftly coat your senses, and slowly lift your mood like an Elysian zephyr weaving beneath a deep canopy. Melodies that shimmer with an ethereal construct designed to reconcile our varied perception into one accord. Each track begins with a coy hook to ignite my interest and cement my commitment to listen beyond a long proven Post Rock formula. Prudent synths augment the whole versus overshadowing their arrangements. Petricor do a classy job in staving off overproduction and do not succumb to the addition of too many elements.
The only song with vocals, the album’s title track, articulates the dichotomy that lies within the debilitating manifests of emotion, that wanting to flee that which perils us to feel. But no matter how far you run, you are still right there. The old adage of “Time heals all wounds” is only superficially sound in its context. Surface wounds yield in time, but those that exist beneath have their own life cycle.
Petricor’s first musical statement urges us to shake off the saddle of the ties that bind us to a static being and embrace growth as a mission, not only a far flung idea. There is no silver bullet for Post Rock. And yes, we have heard this musical equation before, but Petricor execute it just right! Listen further. Trust me.
The Post-Rock scene is not only diverse but extremely rich worldwide. The boundaries of this genre have been pushed far and wide over the years and Portugal was not indifferent to it. The Portuguese Post-Rock scene has grown over the years and solid acts have pushed the limits. Take a listen!
10 – Okkur
Okkur (from Barcelos) is one of those bands that astounds you in a way that is different from all the others. The band takes some influences from bands like The Last Days and Líam. This music will speak to your soul and you will not be the same person after listening to this. Every instrument is like a perfect piece in a perfect puzzle that is not only wholesome, but also pure, raw and magical for every second of it!
9 – Cerca
Cerca is the project and vision of Né Alves. With strong, vibrant riffs, each song is a story of its own, always surprising you, always pulling you in. Live, they are intense and unique. Like a punch in the stomach that instead of sending you to the stars, it pulls you down to the Earth and grounds you in a way you did not think it was possible. Cerca released their album VII in September 2017 and it’s a must-listen!
Juseph is a band formed in Vale de Cambra in 2009 whose discovery was quite a surprise. With a unique sound, distortion-driven guitars and wild grooves, they produce the sort of musical landscape that takes you to an alternative dimension and leaves you mesmerized with the sound. They have two releases: 2013’s Novae EP, and recent 2019 album Óreida. One of the most positive surprises that the Portuguese post-rock scene has to offer.
7 – Then They Flew
Hailing from Lisbon, Then They Flew is a band that leads you to a dreamscape in which vivid imagery comes to life with each note and every chord played. Soothing melodies and intense riffs bring just about the exact intensity for each moment of each song. Their style is inspired by many artists and you will find strong resemblances to If These Trees Could Talk. They released their album Stable as the Earth Stops Spinning in 2015.
6 – Imploding Stars
Imploding Stars can best be defined as rich melodies and emotional uplifting music that takes you to the outer reaches of space. Hailing from the city of Braga, Imploding Stars have made a journey that not only contributed for their own personal growth and definition as a band but also to the pleasure of every post-rock listener who had the grace to find their music. They count three albums in their discography and one of them was made as a soundtrack for the movie From Earth to the Universe¸ produced for Casa da Ciência de Braga.
5 – First Breath After Coma
Founded in 2012, First Breath after Coma are a unique band. With three albums in their discography, they have risen to great heights and joined the platoon of international Portuguese bands. In March 2019 they released their last album NU, after the acclaimed 2016 Drifter. NU is an experience worth listening to. Experiencing and pushing musical boundaries, First Breath After Coma are surely bound to continue to grow and present us with amazing art.
4 – Homem em Catarse
Homem em Catarse is the project of indignu’s guitarist Afonso Dorido. Counting with one EP: Homem em Catarse and two albums: Guarda-Rios and Viagem Interior, Homem em Catarse is the combination of Post-Rock looped guitars and the traditional Portuguese Fado singing. His latest album, Viagem Interior is a recollection of experience and lives from the rural areas of Portugal that were left behind and sometimes forgotten. It’s a journey to the deepest roots of what Portugal has to offer.
3 – Catacombe
Starting in 2007 in the town of Vale de Cambra, Catambe carved a journey over the years that lead them to the release of an EP: Memoirs in 2008 and two albums in 2010 and 2014. In 2013 they appeared as the surprise band in Amplifest, participating with bands such as Deafheaven, Russian Circles, Year of no Light, amongst others. They have shared the stage with other bands such as Tides from Nebula and Minsk and on the 7th of June they are going to release the album Scintilla. This album represents a journey to the origins, and as the band puts it: “Scintilla leads us back to that primordial moment when man discovers fire, so that millions of years alter a band can discover the course, or the maturity.”
2 – Before and After Science
Born in Oporto in 2009, Before and After Science have made their presence known over the past couple of years. In 2013 they released the EP Vital Signs of a Fallen World and finally in 2017, their album Relics & Cycles. Taking influences from bands like If These Trees Could Talk and Russian Circles, they stand out in the Portugal Post-Rock/Post-Metal scene with their strong riffs and intense music. A band definitely worth listening to if you’re looking for heavy and powerful music that will not leave you indifferent.
1 – indignu [lat.]
And finally, for the first place! Indignu [lat.] is one of the most prominent Portuguese acts out there. Originally from the small town of Barcelos, they released their fourth album Umbra in May 2018. The band called Umbra “a record in memory of all the souls left in the gloom of a tragedy that raped our homeland last year. A black, painful, haunted set that describes the penumbra in which a man lives immersed in the dark chaos, in the apocalypse.”. This is the kind of band whose intense and emotional way of playing will trigger deep, strong emotions that are hard to grasp and comprehend. In September, they will be playing VIVID. a post_rock festival in Norway, with what will surely be an intense and immersive show.
I’ll admit that I hadn’t come across Ohio’s The End Of The Ocean before seeing them play at dunk!USA in Vermont in 2017, but any of my friends recommended them in the lead up to the festival, and sure enough they played one of the more memorable sets of the weekend.
I’m guessing that the key reason that they’d escaped my attention for so long is because they hadn’t released any music since 2012, which would have been when I was fairly new to the genre and still discovering what gems the world of post-rock had to offer.
But now they’ve ended the wait for new music, offering us the cryptically titled third album, -aire.
I could tell straight away that this album was worth my time. Album opener “endure” commences with light pads and piano chords – ok, atmospheric, setting the mood. But then the drums kick in – so punchy – and I could tell that The End Of The Ocean mean business.
They launch straight into the guts of it from there. The triumphant drums lead us through a euphoric movement that I’m tempted to label as a crescendo – but the energy doesn’t peak and die away. I must add that the mixing is fantastic, offering great depth and clarity.
“bravado” sustains the energy of the first track, offering more melodies and fury. It’s direct, relentless, and glimmering with beauty.
The End Of The Ocean really put the ‘rock’ into post-rock. Forget the loud-quiet-loud approach, these guys and girls go more for the loud-loud-LOUD style, simply adding to the music to increase the fullness and density of the sound.
The intensity doesn’t let up much until we reach the fourth track, “self”. It’s a tender song with pleasant guitar strumming that reminds me of Lights & Motion’s “Dream Away“. “homesick” follows suite, keeping the mood down for a bit, before bringing the volume back up where it belongs.
Drummer Wes Jackson is a force to be reckoned with. Not content to simply sit back and set the tempo, he injects driving essential energy into each track. Just listen to the blastbeats in “jubilant”!
Lead single “desire” is an ominious beast. Built around a piano ostinato, with the ever brilliant drums rapping on the rim, this is a powerful track. The best part is that unlike most post-rock music we are accustomed to, they don’t just use guitar crescendos and washy cymbals to build the mood, but instead add dynamic complexity to their playing to help the song grow.
This is post-rock that avoids cliché. Sure, it’s emotional instrumental music, but The End Of The Ocean manage to write great songs that avoid the same played-out tropes that every Explosions In The Sky tribute act. -aire pushes past the boundaries of the genre, offering simply brilliant tunes that reward the listener with energy and excitement. Yes, it’s atmospheric and moody, but this is music that demands your attention, not just tired background filler.
Although -aire starts out stronger than it finishes, it’s a solid album guaranteed to stir emotions and pique interest. Check it out and fall in love with it.
Regular readers will know that I teach toddlers for a living. It’s a lot of fun, drawing pictures, digging in the sandpit, building lego, reading stories, running around, acting silly, and generally doing things that don’t really sound like “work” (although believe me – it’s not easy!)
Trying to create a fun and vibrant feeling environment is an integral part of my job. It’s easier to learn things when we feel comfortable and at ease. I enjoy finding music that can help to elevate or lower the mood of the room, depending on the need. Relaxing ambient music by the likes of Rhian Sheehan or Steve Gibbs can help settle everyone down for the chilled out times of the day. And dance parties that feature Disney tunes from soundtracks like Frozen,Lion King and Moana are daily occurrences. But my favourites are upbeat post-rock and math-rock – fun stuff like Toe, Just Neighbours, Tom’s Story and Dorena.
Filipino quartet tide/edit just got added to that list. I can’t believe that they’ve escaped my attention until now, because this is exactly the kind of music I need in my life.
All My Friends ticks all the boxes: upbeat, energetic and melodic. It’s fun and interesting without feeling too distracting.
I’m sure that any math fans will know the deal: it’s happy, tappy music that makes you feel good and want to move your body. For the longest time I thought that math-rock only featured innaccesable bands like Dillinger Escape Plan or Messhuggah, which put me off. But bands like tide/edit have taught me that exploring different time signatures doesn’t alway make a band hard to listen to, it just means that they’re too talented for their own good.
But seriously, All My Friends is a great record. As the title would suggest, it’s the soundtrack to friendship and playfullness. We hear light tapping on guitar fretboards, twinkly riffs and busy drumming, all coming together to create wonderful music. “Chronograph” transports us to electronica territory with glitches in the beat. It doesn’t matter if you’re pumped up, or feeling dreamy and vacant, this music just makes you feel good about life.
Now I know that I cover a lot of instrumental music on this site, but I must disclose that the track “White Flag” contains (cover your ears, children)… vocals! Singing? How dare they? But jokes aside, Dee Cruz’s vocal addition makes for a lovely relaxing song.
It is the start of summer here in New Zealand, which means time spent with friends, cooking on barbeques, hanging out at beaches and rivers, and making time to enjoy what life has to offer. I dare say tide/edit’s carefree tunes from All My Friends will make worthy additions to the soundtrack.
New Musical Horizons tent at dunk!fest 18. Zeidler and myself in front, with Guillaume Morette (centre) and the guys from Ranges behind.
Last year I invented an award for Adam Page, who deserved some praise for his work. Being an arbitrary award, I didn’t have set selection criteria or anything of the sort, I just think Page is awesome, and contributes a lot to the music scene.
So this year the choice seemed fairly obvious to me. And it is somewhat ironic that this recipient isn’t even a musician, but there’s no denying that he has contributed hugely to his music scene on an international scale.
I first came across David Zeidler through his writing. At the time he wrote for Echoes & Dust. Later on his was a key figure running Arctic Drones (the best post-rock site out there – give those guys some love!). And now he contributes to Heavy Blog Is Heavy.
Funnily enough, is roots aren’t in music, but horror films. He cut his teeth writing for horror zine Fangoria, and organising cult horror film screenings in New England cinemas. Over the years he transitioned to post-rock music, using the skills he’d aquired through his writing and by running events.
Not long after he asked me to suggest some good local bands. He was working with CJ Blessum of A Thousand Arms [and Ranges, and also former WNF writer] to put out Open Language, an international post-rock compilation, and wanted to find acts from all over the globe so that they’d have a wide selection of music to showcase. A Thousand Arms now have six compilations out, which have helped countless music fans discover new bands from around the world.
Not happy to settle with the work he’d done already, Zeidler formed a few Facebook groups to cultivate an online community. One in particular is great initiative and an invaluable resource for all the creative figures in the game, who can reach out to find others for recording, touring, design, reviews, . It is common to see something along the lines of “Hey, my band x is trying to put a tour together in this region around these dates.”, with many others replying to help piece the tour together.
Now it’s one thing to organise and promote a few local shows, or even provide a platform for others to do it themselves, but Zeidler decided to jump in the deep end and organise a music festival with an international line-up.
Inspired by a trip to dunk!fest in Belgium, Zeidler decided that America needed something equivalent. He began working on putting on dunk!USA in his hometown of Burlington, featuring a stellar line-up from America, as well as a few international acts. He already had a full-time job, plus his work writing for Arctic Drones, but decided that jumping in the deep end and taking the workload of organising a festival of this size with within his capabilities.
dunk!USA wasn’t a total success in a financial sense, but it provided a springboard for launching this year’s post. Festival in Indiana, and paved the way for possible future dunk!USA events. It was well run, felt professional, and brought many bands from the American scene together.
I personally had a great time at the event. I’d been on tour with the band Ranges, working as a roadie/tour blogger, helping with set ups/pack downs and documenting the tour with my writing and photography. The festival was the climax of said tour. I was stoked to finally meet David in person once we’d arrived in Burlington, and we even stayed at his apartment.
Drunk Joseph during Astronoid at dunk!USA. The back of Zeidler’s head far right. Image taken from Behind The Scenes footage in the forthcoming Ranges DVD The Ascent
The following year Ranges invited me back on tour with them, this time in Europe. But they also invited Zeidler.
I’ll be honest, I felt threatened. I thought I’d already proved myself when touring with Ranges in America. Why did they need another blogger? Arctic Drones has a far greater reach than I’ll ever have, so I was worried I’d be stuck under Zeidler’s shadow.
I needn’t have worried. Zeidler wasn’t trying to steal my job (can I call it a job? It was unpaid. Internship maybe?). We have different focuses anyway – Zeidler writes about foods he ate on tour, whereas I’m more Gonzo styled and write about the crazy character I meet, or shenanigans I get up to.
We shared some quality time together, eating fine European foods. It was nice to have a friend to spend time with who was free when the band was doing soundcheck. We ate fine cheeses and meat in Paris, and went on a crepe date in Lyon.
In the Ranges tour van in Europe. Image: Luxinvictus
These days Zeidler is writing for Heavy Blog Is Heavy, and runs PR company Young Epoch – an arm of A Thousand Arms which focuses on promoting bands and running smaller local events. I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes an appearance at dunk!fest in Belgium again next year, or has a part to play in organising another USA festival in the next year or two.
So there you have it: music promoter, festival and show organiser, publicist, and stalwart of the international post-rock community – David Zeidler, recipient of the 2019 Will Not Fade Awesomeness Award.