Tag Archives: post rock

Review – Watter: History of the Future (Temporary Residence)

Watter: History of the Future (Temporary Residence)

Epic titles deserve epic music, and this foray into a musical cosmos loosely mapped by Krautrock, the soundtracks of Ennio Morricone and the electronic creations of Bob Moog more than justifies its heading.

For Watter’s second album the core trio of Zak Riles from instrumental psychonauts Grails, Slint drummer Britt Walford and multi-instrumentalist Tyler Trotter is augmented by a sprinkling of the finest musicians from their base in Louisville, Kentucky (including members of Tortoise, Rachel’s and The For Carnation). The resulting 10 tracks demonstrate what is possible when you corral like-minded collaborators with a common geography, a masterful grasp of their instruments and a collective ambition to soundtrack the movies in your mind.

Not for Watter tilting at mere sadness; instead they conjure unfathomable sorrow on the opening Telos, while on the closing Final Sunrise they restore equilibrium by invoking nothing less than rapture through the marriage of spectral acoustic guitar and Rachel Grimes’s gambolling piano. In between lies an enriching journey through the spectrum of instrumental rock, variously recalling Vangelis, Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk with a few Middle Eastern flavours thrown in for good measure.

Unfailingly lush and consistently extraordinary, History of the Future more than lives up to its grandiose title, eclipsing all but the cream of its creators’ previous work.

Reproduced with permission of Herald & Times Group.

Review – Disco Inferno: In Debt (Rocket Girl)

Disco Inferno: In Debt (Rocket Girl, 2017)

Presumably named in jest, Disco Inferno were sensitive souls whose early-1990s experiments in deconstructing rock tropes and reassembling the components in new forms made them darlings of the weekly music papers. Alongside such peers as Bark Psychosis, Loop and late-period Talk Talk they breathed new life into the corpse of guitar music, inadvertently begetting post-rock in all its many guises while receiving precisely none of the spoils.

Comprising their debut LP Open Doors, Closed Windows and a clutch of vinyl-only releases, In Debt inevitably suffers on initial listening for its patina of unforgiving recording techniques so common for bands with limited funds at the time, the slew of cheap or hastily deployed effects failing to mask shortcomings in performance.

Persevere, however, and In Debt opens up like a bloom, providing clear context for the short-lived group’s ongoing legacy.

Across 17 tersely titled cuts – Emigre, Interference, Incentives – the group from the periphery of London outgrow influences such as Joy Division to point the way towards a future in which they would tilt fearlessly at bliss through a painterly use of spartan guitar (later augmented by sampling) welded to rhythmic adventurousness.

Reproduced with permission of Herald & Times Group.

Review – Trans Am: California Hotel (Thrill Jockey)

Trans Am: California Hotel (Thrill Jockey, 2017)

When mainstream TV schedules reach their logical conclusion and producers are shortlisting musical candidates for Celebrity Human Centipede, it’s unlikely Ed Sheeran will need to worry about losing his spot to Phil Manley, Nathan Means or Sebastian Thomson. After 25 years as one of the American alternative rock scene’s most compelling and influential bands, Trans Am’s latest long-player is released tomorrow as a strictly vinyl edition of 1000 copies – worldwide.

No matter, because California Hotel is the archetypal Trans Am record – a postmodern mish-mash of electronica and guitar-hero abandon, equal parts Led Zeppelin, John Carpenter and Sade (those comparisons are courtesy of the press release, incidentally, and spot-on), and impossibly entertaining.

Whether your bag is vintage synths (Ship Of The Imagination, Expansions), balls-out dream rock (I Hear Fake Voices) or, er, more vintage synths (the straight-faced 1980s soul/R&B tribute Rules Of Engagement) there is much to savour within the eight succinct tracks on show. And if you dig drums – proper, drop-dead, primal drums – Seb Thomson is unarguably one of rock’s best ever.

Like its 10 predecessors in the Trans Am canon, there are flaws in California Hotel, but, as ever, the glories eclipse them without breaking sweat. Naughty but niche.

Reproduced with permission of Herald & Times Group.