Twelve Post-rock albums I like on eMusic

edited February 2020 in Rock Pop
Odd coincidence that both eMusic and went down within days of one another.  It's a race to see which fulfills its promise to return first.  But to the title...

Can all 21st century instrumental rock other than surf be called post-rock? How many lyrics disqualify? Does it have to be atmospheric, or can it be upbeat and danceable? Was there a clean break w/ progressive rock or are the two clearly related? I’m not going to weigh in other than to encourage a big tent, to include all the albums below, but I welcome any disputes for stimulating discussion.

Note that many are just 99 cents to own, eMusic’s remaining selling point, but there’s doubt about artists getting paid (unless you want to go with their blockchain tokens). Thus, support them via the Bandcamp links to feel extra warm & fuzzy. 

In approximate order of my liking:

  1. “The Relativity of Space and Time” - Zhaoze (The Swamp) (2016). Not to take on too heady of a subject, my favorite Chinese alt. rock group went post-rock in the 2010s, and rather well. This live album is the priciest but also the longest at 90 minutes, and Chinese instrumentation, mainly an electric guqin, features prominently on most tracks. They also sing occasionally. For more Chinese post-rock on eMusic, tell me if Yu Su is too jazzy. Wang Wen also has four albums, but I’ve only heard “Re: “ and another not available, finding both just OK. Find my full consideration of Asian alternative music on eMu here:

  2. “A Ella Te Conduce la Sagrada Espyral” - Pylar (2017). These Spaniards flirt with metal but alternate hard and soft numbers with a lot of skill. A lot of variation from track to track, with dashes of psychedelia thrown in for good measure. A mere dollar (or “name your price”) for a full-length album not to be missed.

  3. S/t” - Sensible Soccers (2011). A 20-minute EP from Portugal for 99 cents, this one starts out sounding a bit like a helicopter and never quite fits its title. Glittering circles of guitars and a distant female vocalist make for a very enjoyable and relatively mellow excursion. “Twin Turbo,” while under two minutes long, skitters into shoegazey dream pop territory crashing full speed into the wall of the fairly epic last track. All with subtle electronic enhancements, like a slowed-down Desert Sound Colony (one of my favorites I’ve mentioned several times elsewhere).

  4. “Sonder” - Hanan (2014). A short album of relatively short songs and about half electronic, these Minnesotans would not be out of place on Constellation or Kranky with their alternation between atmospheric and noisy guitars closer to math rock. In any case, these guys are full of crescendoes but know when to brood and contemplate, too.

  5. “Hacia Donde Va el Agua” - IIOII (2019). Maybe the most experimental on this list, these Chileans are on a label that otherwise has more ambient music. Tunes on the album are usually backed by an electronic dance beat, but the overall sound mostly remains more abstract and restrained than groovy. At times one has to strain to hear guitars, but they’re usually there. Someone who would include Ratatat in post-rock would have no trouble fitting this one.

  6. “BM” - Billy Mahonie (2009). Fully instrumental and more straightforwardly rock than most here, while also playing with rhythm a lot more. Fans of Ui and The Mercury Program will find much to enjoy.

  7. “Glass Wars” - 1 Mile North (2011). Almost wholly guitar-based, layered, and sparse, with some nice use of background sounds for variety. Most are long tracks more intricate and interesting than rousing, leaving even more softly than they came. A slow echo that can sometimes feel like full-song extensions of the quiet parts in Explosions in the Sky tracks, these songs almost entirely eschew percussion as too jarring.

  8. “Mort Aux Vaches” - Tarentel (2015). There’s probably more to be included on this list in the large series of 99-cent titles, but I’m starting with reliable names I know and love. Unlike most of their albums, this one’s fully instrumental and uses only standard rock instrumentation without frills.

  9. “El Hambre” - Los Desastres De La Guerra (2018). Another 99-cent EP (or nyp for all three titles on Bandcamp), this time from Argentina. It starts like it’ll be noisy but soon settles into organ and guitar pedal madness over a driving beat. The other two tracks, while not mellow, are more abstract and restrained.

  10. “S/t” - Ceylon (2019). By far the most vocals, and French female ones at that, of any on this list. Loungey, layered, but lighthearted and maybe a bit rockabilly or psychedelic. If they’re not post-rock I invite someone to categorize this long, 99-cent EP more appropriately.

  11. “This Culture of Background Noise” - Because of Ghosts (2006). Sort of meanders its way into the first track like plodding at an increasing pace. Maybe guitar purists will like this one more than I do, though they do add a violin occasionally, but even w/out it can be reminiscent of Dirty Three. They’re Australian.

  12. “The Unfolding Sounds” - Dreamer Strings (2017). One extremely quiet, long track for 99 cents doesn’t really reveal itself as a rock album until its final passage.

On other lists: Austin TV, Desert Sound Colony, Iah, Poly-Math.

Record labels to explore (on eMu): Feeding Tube, Indelabel, Awkward Formats, serpent, El Templo ReKords, Superstar Destroyer; Shinkoyo; Bartosz Leśniewski; Mascarpone; Swim; Salvation; Camera Obscura; MonseArt;

eMusic was my source for the original 1990s post-rock from Bark Psychosis, and I wish it a better 2020 than 2019. Thanks for reading, and happy listening (with more support of artists, I hope)!


  • More Post-Rock & Instrumental Rock I Like (on eMusic & Bandcamp):

    A busy new semester of teaching has me backlogged in several categories, but probably none more than these.

    In approximate order of how much I like it…

    1. “S/t” - Hijos Amigos (2018). This album might as well be the ambassador to rock listeners unfamiliar with contemporary Latin rock, as it touches on many different styles and has elements that tip their sombreros to the greats, most notably the organ work of The Doors. There are hooks, licks, and psychedelic elements aplenty, all blended together in seven tracks between 5-8 minutes long, each sounding as if multiple personality disorder were a virtue we should all strive to cultivate. Changes in tempo and instrumentation are made at the drop of a hat, but the bridges and transitions are as sublime as they are quick, ensuring that nothing is ever the least bit jarring. This is a rare album I could contentedly listen to on repeat, and if eMu’s critics will pardon the expression, a steal at just $2.99.

    2. “3c. 6” - Evas (2020). If you’re going to make a mid-tempo instrumental rock album with just the core ingredients of guitar, bass, and drums, this one from Peru could be a model for how to keep it listenable from start to finish. Tight but not tense jams with no frills, no nonsense, nor any real deviation from a formula that works like a charm on these ears. A bargain at $2.49 on a tiny label, this is just the kind of discovery that keeps me subscribed. I wish we lived in a world where this album and others like it had the remotest chance of being heard by anyone, anywhere, but that’s just not the world we live in.

    3. “Face Tapes” - Hunter Ellis (2021). (now gone from eMusic) This new long EP or short album hits all the right notes for post-rock, establishing atmosphere through melody and using vocals artfully and sparingly. The tracks are just a touch longer than pop songs, and they flow well from one to the next. There are other instruments to complement the guitars, too, which may be less important to others but really makes a difference in my enjoyment of post-rock. The best song is unsurprisingly the longest, with multiple passages that bring the guitars either to the front or the back of the mix. The second track’s vocals are a nice breather and make for a downright beautiful song, while the brief third takes a page from the Southwest.

    4. “Three Months” - James Stephen Finn (2018). Follow soothing guitar melodies and bells over the crispy but unhurried electronic beats for just under half an hour of relaxation. It’s a perfect antidote for anyone feeling overwhelmed or that the pace of life is too fast. All that’s missing on some of these is the wistful voice of The Notwist, but keeping it less urgent than that clear reference point and fully instrumental is fine, too. Smell a flower, enjoy a meal, or something.

    5. “Priestess of the Goddess” - Rasplyn (2013). Two long tracks lush with strings and atmosphere, even bagpipes on the first track, these kinda straddle the line between Esmerine and GYBE in tone, with an occasional female vocal moan (no lyrics or words) thrown in. The second has a beat and more reeds and guitars, driving towards a destination, where it stays dramatically for the closing minutes. I think it works well, and I’d love to hear a full album. It’s not often your last 49 cents will acquire something that sounds this epic. Also a bargain at $1.50 on Bandcamp

    6. “Atardecer” - Friends of Dean Martinez (2004). A Southwestern instrumental rock “supergroup” emigre from Sub Pop put out about ten albums from 1995-2005 before hanging up its spurs. There’s a lot of open space in these, befitting a desert setting or landscape at sunset, and if you’re a fan of Calexico or Giant Sand, you’ve probably already sampled the friendly discography. I haven’t heard enough of it to explain the differences between this album and the others, but one pretty much can’t go wrong with mellow instrumentals, imo. Harmonica, guitars, organ, pedal steel, and a laid back feel leave me thirsting for the rest of their work as well. Unfortunately pricey.

    7. “Common Clearing” - Ross Downes (2012). The catalog on Trestle may not be especially new, but it’s definitely one of the more interesting labels I’ve stumbled upon lately, pretty cheap to boot. This is one of the less instrumental titles on it, bearing some resemblance to Omertà in the Bandcamp section below, with nicely varied instrumentation supporting minimal guitars, percussion, and spoken female vocals in the opening track. From there, the proceedings stay quiet and less vocal, making for a somber, contemplative, and moody album overall. Pretty heady song titles, too, if one needs something to contemplate while listening.

    8. “Water-Wasser” - Hausmeister (2005). Downtempo electronic beats and an electric guitar are usually an odd and awkward pairing, but these songs go down so smoothly one can easily forget that there’s music being played. The ability to listen to a whole album and not realize it can be polarizing for listeners, and I personally like something one can either pay attention to without getting bored or just keep in the background without getting jarred or distracted. This is too interesting to be lounge music, so it goes into post-rock.

    9. “We’ve Been Talking” - Enemies (2010). This is mid-tempo and bright post-rock with stop-start cues and multi-guitar coordination borrowed from math rock. Over the course of a full album, the high-intensity austerity of fully instrumental guitar songs—and there’s not a lot other than guitars, bass, and drums here—feels extreme to my ears. Not grating, but I think I will always listen to another style of music after this album. I greatly overpaid on eMu since they’re NYP on Bandcamp (I prefer 2013’s Embark, Embrace, also NYP and w/ occasional vocals)

    10. “Battery”- Guerraz (2020). (now gone from eMusic) Guitars and electronic backing beats make for a fine, long EP or a short album that won’t rock anyone’s socks or offend.

    11. “Sons of Boy” - Stationary Odyssey (2014). The first track is one to put on while taking out anger and frustration. Somewhat repetitive and employing almost dirge-like walls of sound peppered with intense fretwork and outright noise, at times the quieter and louder guitars alternate in conversation with one other within individual tracks. Fans of aggressive guitar showmanship will find more here to appreciate than I can. It’s not quite Polvo, but I can hear some similarities. The midsection lightens up a bit, more in line with my usual listening preferences, and the finale plays with a familiar bassline memorably.

    Bandcamp Only (NYP unless otherwise noted): “Paracuaria” - Cromattista (2017). Another short but mighty fine instrumental album of varied moods and textures. It seems they’ve always had a knack for a good waltz. Highly recommended along w/ “Rampas y tuneles” from 2020.

    “One” - Devils of Moko (2020). Piano-led at first, one may initially think this is more jazz than post-rock, but then there’s plenty of electronic funk (even a midsong break into drum & bass rhythms on the first track) as well, from the get-go this one’s a real devil to categorize but a great pleasure to listen to. Guitars are by no means absent, and there’s clearly quite a lot of skill behind every instrument in the lineup.

    “S-T” - Omertà (2017). Raised the price to eight Euros, and it may still be worth it. Very artful and seemingly abstract, this album’s meditative calmness lures the listener in and then surprises with spoken female vocals (in French) and ultimately congealing into a set of real, memorable songs somehow built upon gongs, singing bowls, and who knows what other odd percussion held together by bass & guitar. Most are quite minimalist. Not for those allergic to repetition, however.

    “Howl & Bite”/“New Cinema” - 1939 Ensemble (2013, 2018). I’m sure I’ll own their whole discography for the use of bells, but for now these two show quite enough contrast. The earlier album is slower, mellower, and less produced than the latter, which adds a turntable and more to the mix of bells, guitar, drums, and brass. A bit more rock than The Dylan Group overall.

    “A Series of Disagreements” - Instrumental (adj.) (2015). A three-track EP of kinda funky, instrumental math rock can also sound quite proggy in some passages. I wish there were more than sixteen minutes to take in, but the often blistering tempo might be unsustainable and best in a smaller dose like this.

    “in today already walks tomorrow” - sleepmakeswaves (2008). This is a perfectly adequate post-rock album that knows how to inject some drama and urgency in its songs without really shaking the boat in expectations or a winning formula akin to Explosions in the Sky. The rocking is rather hard and intense at times, taking some elements from math or punk rock as well, with those passages starkly contrasted against atmospheric ones (and then, yes, there are crescendos).

    “Split EP” - Fighting Kites/Broken Shoulder (2011). Fairly upbeat and light at first, these rock instrumentals divided in half as the title suggests reminded me a bit of The Mercury Program. The tone quickly grows more somber, however. The slower numbers can be a bit plodding and noodly, but there’s nothing offensive here.

    “Awalaï” - Onségen Ensemble (2016). I’m no fan of metal, death or otherwise, but the way this album (sometimes) mixes metal-style vocals into its medium-to-hard post-rock steps right up to the line and doesn’t cross into my intolerance. The title track, my favorite, even gets a little spacey.

    “The World without Us” - Glissando (2012). Airy, almost operatic female vocals float around even more ethereal, bleak piano and strings. NYP only on Bandcamp Friday promotions, apparently on Gizeh.

    “I - Merakhaazan - Balazs Pandi” - Svart Lava Sessions (2019). One track a little more than half an hour long seems like abstract noodling at first but before long shows itself to be a series of rather driving, dark improvisations before a live audience, especially the last five minutes or so. Noisy, but in a good way. Raucous without being rock per se.

    “S/t” - Orquestra Patafísica (2019). Guitarwork’s ambience is reminiscent of Steve Hillage’s work for System 7, though this is much less electronic and ultimately not exactly ambient music, especially the third track’s clarinet jam over a beat with guitars in a rhythm-supporting psychedelic role.

    “S/t” - Kurushimi (2016). Driving guitars and wild brass for nearly a full hour and a half, with several tracks well over ten minutes long. They’re decidedly unconstrained by commercial considerations, and this is a rare case where I might say the contents could have been pared down for ease of listening in full.

    Rather than reposting repeatedly, here’s my lists of what’s left on eMusic:

    & by my evaluation

    & by genre

  • I've been enjoying the righteous babe records on emusic. noticed that one singer HAMMELL ON TRIAL has several albums that are NYP on bandcamp.  It's rowdy folk songs. All are quite fun and occasionally spectacular.  Alas, I thought of him as the ultimate indie, but apparently Robert Christgau has been praising his music for quite a while...  
  • Post-Rock & Instrumental Rock Vol. 3

    If I wait any longer on this it’ll need to be two separate lists, and maybe it should be, to separate the actual post-rock from what’s at most adjacent to it.

    In the approximate order of my enjoyment, and I start to lose steam/enthusiasm for them after #10 or so, after which point it becomes minimally produced rock bands who might be instrumental b/c they have nothing interesting to sing about (not b/c they have a coherent post-rock vision)…

    1. “Popular Demain” - Alarmist (2015). I’ve spilled pools of cyber-ink praising Jaga Jazzist & electronic jazz artists in a similar style to high heaven, but I’d never come across a band that so flawlessly apes their style as Alarmist. Much of my thoughts on JJ and their ilk has been speculating on whether an album or song fits best in jazz or electronica, but this album’s fine selections seem to be much closer to rock. You can judge whether that means post- or psych/prog-. “SafariSoGood” might as well be a JJ cover, and every song has that fantastic ability to sweep listeners instantly into another world, a quality I’d heretofore thought inimitable. I’d still give the genuine articles the nod if push came to shove, but total originality is becoming a harder and harder standard to hold great bands to. I could listen from start to finish on loop several times and still enjoy it, something I can hardly say about any album these days. I’ll be snapping up their other albums on Bandcamp just as soon as I build up the gumption to pay full price for anything again.

    2. “Memorandos” - Taco de Golfe (2021). This Brazilian group really knows how to be consistently short but sweet and also varied with a very limited drums, bass, & guitar lineup. What little electronics are involved also tend to sound like guitars, and the rapid changes often are more in the vein of math rock. This has a great mix of more aggressive and quieter numbers in alternation, sometimes within the same song. “O Fio” tries its hand at jazziness, but most of these twisting but not over-tight compositions are fully committed to rocking. Nothing goes over three and a half minutes, most is well under three, and it’s all fully instrumental. I was positively thrilled to discover this new album, which might be my favorite from eMusic of 2021. Highly recommended, fresh rock, like Ui or a stripped down, sped up Tortoise.

    3. “¡Arriba Excursionistas!” - Biodramina Mood (2012). Instrumental surf rock with a vibraphone & strings has no business being this fresh, enjoyable, or endlessly re-listenable and yet it most definitely is. The guitar work in general reminds me of an old Les Paul thrift store record one might still play on vinyl. “Al Aeropuerto, Rápido!” sounds ready for a sock hop one minute and then a short film the next, tuba and all. “Mr. Kaplan” is the most unpredictable track on the album, also one of the best, though “Extraña Ave Acuática” is the best composition. The recent death of Depeche Mode’s keyboardist and cofounder makes the unexpected cover on this album feel all the more like a tribute, albeit ten years ago; I hope mentioning it doesn’t spoil the surprise of suddenly recognizing a song. At merely 99 cents, it’s recommended for absolutely everyone.

    4. “Two Stories High” - Headphone (2006). This starts with a whisper quieter than a cricket and stays pretty subdued throughout the duration, to rather hypnotic effect. This probably comes the closest to Constellation classics like A Silver Mount Zion & Do Make Say Think as any on the list. Dance rhythm mixed low and haunting piano with sudden dissonance on “Parachutes” is a combination that shouldn’t work but does brilliantly. Harpsichord on “Ordem e Progresson” also goes unexpectedly well w/ guitars. Overall, this is a lot more rhythmic and even upbeat than its predecessor, next on the list, without sacrificing any of the subtlety or varied instrumentation. “Spin Boldak” sounds the most like it could have fit on the 2005 album, but overall most songs are still sprawling but slightly pared down and tighter, including a couple from 1-3 minutes serving as an extended vignette & a perfect outro. While relatively simple and straightforward, “Letterbox Transfer” is the one that sticks with me for conjuring the image of taking a vintage electric organ on an Oregon Trail-style journey west. It makes me always ready to revisit the album, a crowning achievement of disparate, oil & water elements coming together in unexpected perfection. It’s possible someone less fond of electronics than I might reverse the ranking of Headphone’s two albums here.

    5. “Work in Progress” - Headphone (2005). I’m a big fan of the Califone side project Sin Ropas, and some of these have that same kind of brokedown ramble to them. Whereas SR would be much less compelling and interesting without vocals, these songs, such as they are, don’t really need anyone to sing to convey their rather downtrodden resilience. Needing just five tracks to reach a standard album’s length also guarantees the listener will get lost in them, forgetting unimportant things like time, tasks, and identity. If not hypnotized by the previous and aptly named “Sublime Parade,” the silence at the beginning of “Hoboken” can make me wonder if the album could have malfunctioned or ended after just a couple tracks. This isn’t the kind of album that one puts on to blow your friends’ minds, but its mental effects are no less powerful, just a lot more subtle.

    6. “Piano Guitar Sex” - Left Ears (2020). I very nearly missed this excellent jazzy post-rock group because it’s independent and does not have cover art that screams competence. It turns out to be one of my favorite new band finds of the year, with two more albums NYP on Bandcamp, both less consistently jazzy than this one and a little shorter, more varied. They do electric organ with their guitars, and perhaps the mix of it all could be likened to intercourse or played during it, if one feels like something out of left field. “2020” has a neat psychedelic loop about midway through. “The Day After” is carried by the bass, overlaid with long, mellow notes and drums. The slow tempos tend to lull the listener a bit before busting out an unexpectedly dissonant sound or instrument, but each song is highly listenable without going too far into “smooth” territory. A few tracks also lean more on the electronic side for rhythm.

    7. “Partz N Panz” - Tom Spiker (2019). His other, slightly longer 2019 release was filed in another category, but neither really fits a genre. The opening pedal steel on “Old Wallace” reminds me of Japancakes, but he gets a lot more playful pretty quickly. That song turns quite abruptly into a swamp boogie thump with a profane rant in the background, and from there the album keeps up the tempo and unpredictability. Some might not find this serious enough to take seriously, but I sure do appreciate all the twists, turns, and unexpected instruments involved. He’s exactly why self-released stuff still needs to be clicked on, just to make sure you’re not missing out on something unique, impossible obscure, and a lot of fun. I’m thinking something like a more lofi Tortoise or Ratatat for comparisons.

    8. “Istiklal” - Klaine Trio (2015). Dramatic and strategic pauses open on “Claro,” and jazzy complexity carries throughout the album. There are at least four layers of guitars on that song, and their interplay with drums and keyboards reminds me a bit of the proggy work of Fripp & colleagues on the “Sometimes God Hides” compilation. The other tracks are all a lot longer but hardly less urgent, though some listeners are likely to lose interest over the course of an instrumental hour. The title track is rather sinister, with an unintelligible vocal sample and what may be religious chanting. “Yo No Le Hago” starts aggressive drums and a guitar pattern that thankfully takes some breaks and variations to keep from being repetitive and overbearing, ultimately giving way to funkiness. This is a rare album which has both a title track and a song the same as the band name, as if they’re out to confuse anyone who might have to sort or buy a physical copy in a store and not have this sorted out by database fields. The band’s name song is by turns quiet and mellow or with a manic guitar swerving over it. “Odaibas” is atmospheric, with a subtle Japanese speaker. “Mangocha” is deliberately angular and disjointed, breaking into a free brass duet midway. The closing “Maraqueo” has some pretty wild vocals in an unknown language. Overall, each song is an interesting composition, but I’d be hard pressed to say which if any is great and deserving of college radio airplay, what would make a believer of a skeptic. This is well worth owning and listening to repeatedly, but it’s not the album I’d pick to get a friend interested in jazzy instrumental post-rock.

    9. “S/t” - Matters (2018). Quite enjoyable but apparently not very memorable, as I often have to check my library to remind myself of what this band is/does. Just four tracks add up to half an hour, and there’s a lot going on in each of them. They’re more electronic than most anything else on this list—guitars definitely take a back seat to keyboards on the first track until ready to lay down the law—but I’d still say it’s more post-rock than electronic because the songs are more cinematic even when dancey. These are fast-paced, driving songs that would be good for…driving long distances or high-impact exercise, though they do get a bit psychedelic with their drama. The newer singles are fine bargains, and this is a steal at 99 cents or NYP on Bandcamp.

    10. “De Los Valles y Volcanes” - Hacia Dos Veranos (2008). Far from new but still fresh enough, this starts off with an explosive jazz noise but settles immediately into pleasantly meandering rock. There’s a a lightness to most of the songs that should be refreshing to those accustomed to post-apocalyptic post-rock, and the run-times are significant, just sub-epic and replete with interstitial flourishes that conjure the rising or setting sun. If you want to remember fondly what you did two summers ago, this is the soundtrack for it. Incidentally, while the titles suggest otherwise, there is little or nothing Latin in the music. What the album lacks is a single standout track that the listener can instantly recall and associate with the band, but a generally pleasant feeling is a fair substitute. It’s never the wrong time to listen again. Playable but not for sale on Bandcamp, along with a second album I prefer slightly over this one:

    11. “Disquiet” - Noon (2017). The Trestle label overperforms in small doses, but I ‘ve yet to find an album that I really enjoy after purchasing. This one is rather plodding and noisy, but in claiming to be outright experimental, one must grant it that right. Guitars are always front and center, with spoken word samples of a child on “Imani’s Call” but usually more starkly unaccompanied other than the drums, and always unadorned. The title track can hardly be called a song but might be the most interesting of the bunch for the cascading drumrolls. Overall, there’s not a lot to hold onto musically, and some of the closing tracks almost seem like they’re toying with the listener’s structural expectations.

    12. “II” - Weeping Bong Band (2019). Feeding Tube has one of the largest and most diverse catalogs devoted to rock music left on the site, and a ton of their titles are at a deep discount without being any less in quality. Then again, there are some 99-cent albums that are about what someone who’s never known the wonders that can be had for that price would expect. Skewered hotdogs on another planet with various creatures in crayon, as on the cover art, is another heuristic for managing expectations of this one. Listeners looking for virtuosity probably don’t care for post-rock much in the first place, but even I tend to prefer more than a single note or two to be played in sequence. Meandering banjo over long keyboard tones is not offensive to me, even quite pleasant, but folks expecting coherent songs should listen elsewhere. If you’re looking for something mellow like a lullaby, bass over light atmospheric drones will do very well. Their 2018 s/t debut is longer and more substantial.

    13. “s/t” - La Sintesis (2020). I had higher hopes for this album and was genuinely excited to buy it after sampling, not that its 30-second samples are particularly enticing themselves. I figured that over the course of a full song they’d take what one can hear in a lot of different, interesting directions, but on playing the full album it all congeals to a kind of blobby drone of guitars with stabs of electronic noodling. This will satisfy those looking for music that’s unconventional and uncategorizable, but not so much those who want their music to sound musical. They’re at their best when most chaotic, as on “Chirimoyo,” with so many different sounds that one can get swept up in the tidal wave. “No Vayas” has a driving tempo going for it and remind me a bit of what Silver Apples might have put out if they’d tried cocaine and brass. “Paso Drake” is an incongruous Western sci-fi soundtrack.

    14. “The Silver Lakes” - Wolf (2015). This one casts doubt on whether stable guitar atmospherics can be an antidote to the “crescendocore” of early post-rock. The parts of the songs that change from beginning to end or otherwise “go somewhere” tend to be in the background, foregrounding instead electronic loops that might be soothing or irritating, depending on one’s age and mood. The opening, title track has a nice, woozy vibe to it, and a couple others can evoke moods well or occasionally pique the listener’s attention, but overall, these 51 minutes go by in a kind of repetitive haze usually reserved for inchoate electronica. Song titles are effective in conveying their blended interchangeability, so there’s clearly a fair bit of intention in this album’s sound. Maybe they were just too good at hitting their target of keeping us just barely and largely indifferently above hypnosis. If you like it and want more, don’t trust eMusic to sift out unrelated others with the same name; the tiny Magnetic Ribbon label does have one other album, though. See the two albums by Headphone, above, for how this style can be done so much better.

    15. “Fracaso Comercial” - Simón Fuga (2016). Five Roman numeral tracks totaling half an hour are kinda Latin, jazzy, and bluesy but basically guitar instrumentals that don’t do much to distinguish themselves in any of those styles, despite decent musicianship and a good variety of supporting instrumentation (organs, electronics, percussion, subtle spoken word samples, etc.). “II” has the uplifting progression of pop accessibility but squanders it suddenly, maybe intentionally, without giving it any continuity or a satisfying destination. “I” & “III” both clock in at over eight minutes long, but neither feels like an album-defining anchor. There are interesting pieces and compelling ideas in these compositions, but as recorded/produced here each feels more like a mish-mash than a coherent song. It’s a mental puzzle worth pondering what it would take for music in this subtly chameleonic, non-committal instrumental style to be a commercial success, but being a more artistic one isn’t too much to ask. Fans of pop will think better of Santana, but I don’t know why anyone would choose him or Fuga over Porrosivo. Merely $2, so still well worth a try.

    16. “S/t” - Purple Soul Trio (2021). Four long tracks with a loud guitar that might also be a bass and electronics over drums who might as well be in the garage next door to you at this very moment you’re trying to read or relax. No-frills jamming with repeated themes veers from quasi-nu-metal to almost jazzy blues experimentation, and the mix is competent at best. Quiet passages basically mean the tempo goes slow & the amps get turned down. Instrumental except for the odd scat singing on the fourth “Eljipjop” and not particularly impressive or especially cheap at $4.
    Bandcamp Only (all NYP except where noted): I may buy more of this on Bandcamp than any other genre, it seems.

    “Folge” & “nó sem pronto ii” - Taco de Golfe (2018, 2020). From the group at #2 above, $4 each, and a good, very useful standard for the quality I require to do more than NYP on Bandcamp.

    “Subliminal Logistics” - Implosion Quintet (2016). While short at 27 minutes, this album hits just about every target an instrumental band might aim at, from spacey to groovy to dark/foreboding to rocking/rollicking. Highly enjoyable & recommend their full discography.

    “Drama,” “Adolescent” - Left Ears (2020, 2021). Two more Swiss instrumental delicacies, with both delving into light electronics occasionally. Usually ranging from mid-tempo to slow, the melodies shine through on every track. These are a little shorter than the one that’s also on eMusic from 2020. Not especially challenging or innovative but quite pleasant without being too soft.

    “Embark, Embrace” - Enemies (2013). Vocals & more adventurous, higher tempo & volume songs make this a clear step up from 2010’s “We’ve Been Talking.” Skirting the edges of emo would be a turn-off in less capable hands, but math rock crossover is always welcome.

    “S/t” - Román (2015). $7 and sprung for on the basis of 2018’s “Momentum,” one of my most played and favorite albums of instrumental blues rock. This one has three more tracks and is merely good, I’m afraid, at times not far removed from a guitar noodling showcase. Brass & occasional acoustic excursions keep proceedings unpredictable.

    “Beats & Saints” - 1939 Ensemble (2018). A 20-minute EP of self-remixes and eclectically sourced covers (Bjork, Charles Mingus, Stereolab, The Breeders) is a fine entry point for this rocking instrumental xylophone & brass showcase band. I enjoy each and would not have recognized the covers’ sources. Their full albums are also NYP.

    “En Ascochinga las brújulas no encuentran el Norte” - Los Cuentos de la Buena Pipa (2011). A Latin prog rock band with a long name doubled down on its full debut with an even more convoluted album title. This one rarely grabs the listener’s attention and is prone to long bouts of inexplicable silence, but for settling into a long groove it’s more than up to snuff overall. Free download.

    “Echoes” & “Matilda” - 3eem (2011, 2007). Hard, quasi-industrial electronics, guitars, and a saxophone are a unique, 85% instrumental combo on both of these 35-minute albums. They seem content to experiment in the liminal nethergenre spaces that will probably only please experimental fans, but the songs are fairly accessible and usually quite interesting.

    “Sustancia” - Cromattista (2013). I’m not sure if this is their debut, but it is a bit rougher around the edges than 2017’s “Paraquaria” or 2020’s “Rampas y Tuneles,” with the acoustic EP from 2014 the odd album out stylistically. Fully instrumental as ever and full of ideas, melodies, & novel instrumentation they’d later explore with more polish. Well worth several listens.

    “s/t” - Yakuzi (2003). The opener on this Basque band’s free debut is very urgent, but they also prove adept at mellow tunes. All show a lot of promise, mixing instrumentals & vocals, realized on their full albums that are only playable but not for sale, though I’ve personally requested on Facebook that the band allow us to give them our money. Their full-length albums are great.

    “S/t” - Basset Hounds (2011). Free but not anywhere near as interesting as their fully developed jazz rock style on their full albums, especially “II”. These are just four likely demos, fully instrumental, with nothing longer than two and half minutes.

    Rather than reposting repeatedly, here’s my lists of what’s left on eMusic:
    & by genre Recent, random posts suggest it is time to include a reminder: eMusic is a website for buying & downloading mp3s. It is Don’t expect the newest hits; treat it like a great used record store where you go to find stuff you didn’t know you wanted and probably didn’t know existed.
  • @omnifoo Many thanks for these posts and the links to your reddit page. Everytime I give myself the time for a dig, even though I'm no longer on Emusic I find something to enjoy. Today Zhaoze and Hoarang were winners.
  • @djh Glad to be of help in our mutual hobby.  I'm a little surprised that eMusic still exists, not that I'm one of the last subscribers.  Zhaoze is definitely one of my favorite Chinese bands, but I have mixed feelings about their pivot to post-rock in their last several years.
  • omnifoo said:
    @djh Glad to be of help in our mutual hobby.  I'm a little surprised that eMusic still exists, not that I'm one of the last subscribers.  Zhaoze is definitely one of my favorite Chinese bands, but I have mixed fee I like their post-rock style but that maybe because I've lings about their pivot to post-rock in their last several years.

    Any album titles that I could YouTube or Bandcamp for their earlier style? It's years since I o.d.'d on post rock so I'm happy enough with their current direction.
  • Their earlier albums were darker, more alt. rock & electronic w/ Nirvana-aping vocals, so I'm probably just nostalgic for the 90s.  I say they did it better than any other Chinese band, though, whereas there's quite a lot of other Chinese post-rock out there that's at least average or better.  I think my favorite album by Zhaoze might be their collaborative, transitional and aptly titled "The Metamorphosis 变形记“ from 2008.  2004's s/t album (English cover/name says "falling into the humid haze") is the only early one I have that iTunes recognizes...I think there was one other.  YouTube's not the place to look except for songs, and I expect most on this forum would also only be interested in their current post-rock form.  &  might only be descriptive, not playable.
  • @omnifoo Thanks I'll have a poke around.
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