Post Formality // 5 Landmark Albums From The Early Days Of Post Rock

  • Posted on
  • 4.3.19


Although post rock's roots can be traced as far back as the sixties, in the experimental deviation of The Velvet Underground and everything that defined progressive rock and krautrock, it was in the early nineties when the term started being thrown around and catching up with journalists and audiences. A group of bands like Disco Inferno, Pram, Laika, the legendary Swans and others have been credited with being among the first who have delineated the genre in the shape that it has today, Yet, the following five records' contribution to post rock's first steps has been of undeniable, vast importance.



5. Tortoise: Tortoise (1994)



Released only a few months after the term post rock was supposedly coined, the self titled debut album by Chicagoan act, Tortoise, was a great predecessor to the more weighty records that the band put out in the late nineties. Not as experimental and grand as its magnificent follow up, Millions Now Living Will Never Die, Tortoise's first record is still a fascinating listen, and a piece of work that helped the shaping of the genre, and influenced dozens of bands which followed in their footsteps.



4. Bark Psychosis: Hex (1994)



Journalist Simon Reynolds described Hex using the term post rock in his review for Mojo magazine, pretty much popularizing a new, clever term to describe the band's sound which was impossible to pinpoint without mentioning a group of other genres, such as ambient, dub, jazz and indie rock. This was the debut LP for British act, Bark Psychosis, following a series of impressive single and EP releases, and it was predominantly recorded at St John's Church in Stratford, taking advantage of the place's natural acoustics.




3. Talk Talk: Spirit of Eden (1988)



Spirit of Eden is the fourth, penultimate studio album by Talk Talk, released in 1988. Although the band had shown signs of their artistic direction on The Colour of Spring from 1986, Spirit of Eden is the record that marked the moment when the band distanced themselves from the more accessible sound of their previous work, and expressed their proneness toward an exploratory direction, all through a completely different creative process. Talk Talk recorded improvisational parts, frequently in total darkness, and used that material to put together this landmark album, which wasn't a commercial success, but resonated with the critics, and grew its reputation over the years.




2. Slint: Spiderland (1991)



Tortoise and Bark Psychosis come from a more experimental background, Talk Talk have their roots in new wave and art pop music, and Slint's sound is mainly based on math rock, noise rock and post hardcore. Slint are one of the first bands to have naturally evolved into what was later called post rock, with their intricate sound brightly showcased on their albums, Tweez and Spiderland. Post rock lists mention Spiderland not only as one of the best early examples of this sound, but also as one of the genre's quintessential releases, and although it was mostly overlooked in its time, its legacy remains huge.




1. Talk Talk: Laughing Stock (1991)



Talk Talk's last album saw them leaving EMI and signing with Verve, Polydor's jazz branch, to which their final pieces of music felt like a better match. As part of a two-album contract with the label, Laughing Stock was followed by Mark Hollis' sole album, released in 1998, and his retirement from making music. Even more minimal and more non-commercial than Spirit of Eden, Laughing Stock is the band's heaviest record in feeling. "Feeling always has been, and always will be, above technique," Hollis once remarked, and the sentiment of this group of six, perfectly woven together tracks, cannot be compared to anything that came before or after its release in 1991. Laughing Stock became a catalyst for post rock, not just for its impressively minimal approach, but because its genius and daring creativity paid off in quality. The album became a standalone masterpiece, still captivating audiences, and almost thirty years after its release, it still sounds remarkably fresh and groundbreaking. Through the album's prominent quietness, Talk Talk went off with a loud bang.






ZR

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