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POST ROCK/MATH ROCK

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Post Rock/Math rock definition

POST-ROCK:

The term post-rock was coined by Simon Reynolds in issue 123 of The Wire (May 1994) to describe a sort of music "using rock instrumentation for non-rock purposes, using guitars as facilitators of timbres and textures rather than riffs and powerchords."

Originally used to describe the music of such bands as Stereolab, Disco Inferno, Seefeel, Bark Psychosis and Pram, it spread out to be frequently used for all sorts of jazz- and Krautrock-influenced, instrumental, electronica-added music made after 1994. Bands from the early 1990s such as Slint, or earlier, such as Talk Talk were influential on this genre. As with many musical genres, the term is arguably inadequate: it is used for the music of Tortoise as well as that of Mogwai, two bands who have very little in common besides the fact that their music is largely instrumental.

The aforementioned Tortoise was among the founders of the movement. After the second Tortoise LP Millions Now Living Will Never Die, the band became a post-rock icon. After Millions... many bands (e.g., Do Make Say Think) began to record, inspired by the "Tortoise-sound" and were often described as post-rock.

In the late nineties, Chicago, Illinois, became the home base of many different groups. John McEntire (of Tortoise) became an important producer for lots of them, as well as Jim O'Rourke (of Brice-Glace, Gastr del Sol and many more). Post-rock began to range from the slow, guitar-based ambience of Boxhead Ensemble to the up-tempo electronica of Stereolab.

Montreal, Quebec band Godspeed You Black Emperor! - later renamed 'Godspeed You! Black Emperor' - brought a political element with anti-globalization movement leanings.

By the early 2000s, the term had started to fall out of favor, while the major artists kept on making high quality recordings. The wide range of styles covered by the term had robbed it of its usefulness almost from the moment it was coined.

Closely related to post-rock is the genre known as Math rock, characterized by more percussive timbres, and more dissonant harmonic gestures.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Post-rock".



MATH ROCK:

Math Rock is a genre that emerged in the late 80's and that was influenced by both the intricacies of progressive and avant-garde rock - King Crimson, Frank Zappa, Henry Cow - and 20th century composers such as Steve Reich and John Cage. The music is characterized by complex structures, angular melodies and constant abrupt changes in tempo and time signature. The name Math Rock is a term that grew out of the Chicago scene and the artists working with engineer Steve Albini in an effort to describe the new style.

The basic building blocks of Math Rock can be traced back to the late 60's and 70's where Progressive Rock artists were making more elaborate compositions than the standard rock bands and were experimenting with song structures. Early Avant-garde groups like Massacre, and artists such as Captain Beefheart and John Zorn were highly influential to Math Rock bands and traces of their music can still be heard throughout the genre. Another big influence to the Math Rock approach was Slint with their album "Spiderland" which showcased many techniques that Math Rock bands will follow in the future. Punk also had significant impact on the sound of Math Rock bands. Other notable influences are: Post-Rock, Heavy Metal, and Jazz.

Although there are Math Rock bands in different countries around the world, most reside in the United States, the Midwest in particular, and tend to be divided by regions: Pittsburgh bands (Don Caballero, Six Horse) Chicago bands (Shellac, U.S. Maple), Ohio bands (Keelhaul, Craw) Louisville bands (June 44, Rodan, The For Carnation, Crain), and San Diego bands (Drive Like Jehu, Tristeza) among others on both coasts. Japan was also an important country in the Math Rock genre with bands like Ruins and Zeni Geva.

POST/MATH ROCK TEAM MEMBERS:
Angelmk (Angel)
Zravkapt (Darryl)
The Truth (Tanner)
Austin (Horizons)
Jason (Second Life Syndrome)

Post Rock/Math rock Top Albums


Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Post Rock/Math rock | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.49 | 45 ratings
CHILDREN OF GOD
Swans
4.44 | 32 ratings
THE COLLIBRO
Lis Er Stille
4.32 | 48 ratings
RANDOM AVENGER
Magyar Posse
4.13 | 462 ratings
GTIS BYRJUN
Sigur Rs
4.14 | 159 ratings
ENTER
Russian Circles
4.11 | 442 ratings
LIFT YOUR SKINNY FISTS LIKE ANTENNAS TO HEAVEN
Godspeed You! Black Emperor
4.31 | 33 ratings
THE EXTENT OF DAMAGE
Battlestations
4.25 | 42 ratings
SOUNDTRACKS FOR THE BLIND
Swans
4.42 | 19 ratings
THE LAST DAWN
Mono
4.43 | 18 ratings
SINES
Jakob
4.69 | 10 ratings
DREAMS THAT COME A THING (PT I) ...NEVER THOUGHT IT MAY SEEM…
Bosch's With You
4.11 | 109 ratings
THE SEER
Swans
4.07 | 340 ratings
F# A# ∞
Godspeed You! Black Emperor
4.33 | 22 ratings
LA DI DA DI
Battles
4.32 | 22 ratings
BEAUTIFUL
About Tess
4.21 | 35 ratings
PHANTASIA
Lite
4.08 | 104 ratings
ULVER WITH TROMS CHAMBER ORCHESTRA: MESSE I.X - VI.X
Ulver
4.07 | 115 ratings
IN A COLD EMBRACE
Battlestations
4.20 | 32 ratings
FOR LONG TOMORROW
Toe.
4.07 | 89 ratings
ONE TIME FOR ALL TIME
65DaysOfStatic

Post Rock/Math rock overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Post Rock/Math rock experts team

WIDOW
Day For Airstrikes
JINX
Kammerflimmer Kollektief
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Maps & Atlases
EMBERS
Up-C Down-C Left-C Right-C ABC + Start

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Latest Post Rock/Math rock Music Reviews


 At Land by WHYOCEANS album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.00 | 1 ratings

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At Land
WhyOceans Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
4 stars Post-rock from the bustling streets of Macau

I'm always searching quite haphazardly to hear unique little bands from all over the globe, like a kid in a candy store. That element of buried treasures and sonic travel is one of the few things about the Web that interest me. Aside from music and history hobbies I'd rather be outside or reading a book. WhyOceans was one of those lovely moments finding a band with much to give and who've had little buzz at PA.

WhyOceans are from Macau which is a small peninsula of China near Hong Kong. The band began in or after high school in 2005 and are still together over a decade later, a testament to their friendships and work ethic. They initially were influenced by 60-70s psych and Pink Floyd before drifting into some soundtrack work, and finally the natural progression to post-rock. The fact that they must finish their day jobs before plugging in has not stopped them from growing their talents and fan base. While we may know little of them at PA they have been successful regionally and performed some decent sized gigs in Macau and mainland China, and their CD is well into a second pressing.

Their debut "At Land" was named after a 1944 film by avant-garde filmmaker Maya Deren, an evocative stream-of-consciousness experience. I decided to watch "At Land" and some of Deren's other short films while listening to WhyOceans. Fantastic! One can see why they love Deren and I wonder if she didn't influence Kate Bush and even one of my favorite directors, Antonioni. In any case, the experience was like RanestRane doing their music to film and I recommend it. You can watch Deren's work on YouTube if you can't find a DVD.

While in some ways "At Land" is textbook post-rock, with wave after wave of beautiful emotional swell, you can hear the Floyd influence here and there. In one or two places it is obvious with simulation of Wall era darkness creeping in but in other places it is much more subtle. Aside from the intro the other five tracks are 7-12 minutes long and have the luxury of time to develop into pleasing little instrumental stories. Colorful lead guitar and really nice, varying keyboard textures, even some piano, and minimal vocals (which I appreciate as an instrumental rock fan). They have a wonderful confidence in finding good melody and then using the guitar and keys as equal partners in developing them, unapologetically choosing pleasing sounds over abrasion. The guitars and keys work as a tight knit unit rather than individuals. The rhythm section is inventive and there are some heavy sections that contrast the tranquility for a satisfying active listening, unlike the post-rock which some people think of as "background music" alone. There's even a bit of funky electronica. This is not one dimensional repetition, WhyOceans strives to keep it engaging. And I love the fact that the music truly feels like the product of band collaboration as opposed to the one-guy projects with other people helping out later in the recording.

I was able to enjoy a YouTube documentary of this band (Thank you 24+ Project!) which featured band interviews and footage of them rehearsing and gigging. They are in it for all the right reasons, love of music, and they often win over people who've never heard them before with their live performance. It was also interesting to note that despite how much times have changed, being in a band is a dynamic that remains pretty constant over the decades. Their practice space in Macau didn't look that different from our own despite being separated by decades and half a world.

Loved "At Land" as I often do debut albums, I love hearing youth and that special period when everything is still running on wonder. But these guys probably have a better album in them after five years of becoming more proficient and gigging. In 2015 they have a new bass player and are working on their second album. Don't miss checking out WhyOceans as well as the filmmaker who inspired them. Between 3 and 4 stars, liked it just well enough to round up.

今 晚 練 習 開 始 。 "So we start our night"

 James by LOWERCASE NOISES album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2015
3.00 | 1 ratings

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James
Lowercase Noises Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
3 stars A unique gift

"James" is the latest installment of a unique sub series of EPs that Andrew Rothling (the man behind Lowercase Noises) has created for each of his children. He composes and records the music during the pregnancy and then releases each album on the date of his child's birth, "James" being number four. If this sounds a little too sweet or sentimental for your tastes you should reconsider, each of the albums are actually quite good.

Othling handles the bulk of his releases via guitar and associated effects, creating slow and swelling ambient dreamscapes, full of emotion and peace. On this album he has added specials guests to bring a bit more "band" sound to some of the tracks, which feature drums, cello, and violin. "The First Glimmer of Wind" is a standout track here letting violin and cello have the lead rather than the usual guitar, giving it a slightly different feel. "Almost So Clear" brings acoustic guitar to the fore initially before swallowing it in the welling, again bringing some strings in. "The First Wink of Dawn" adds piano note repetitions to the fore before some light drums come in, very effecting at invoking morning optimism. The twenty four minutes drift by very quickly and the overwhelming feel is a life affirming sense of beauty and peace. Rarely does one get harshness or sadness from the music. Lowercase Noises work has always brought very positive "vibes" to this listener, soundtracks for introspection and relaxing listening. His philosophy is that guitar should be played slowly and 'less notes is more' essentially. In other words, like your Mom told you, slow down and taste your food rather than inhaling it.

As he has in the past Andy turned to artist Terri Othling for the beautiful cover art. I urge post rock fans to check out Lowercase Noises for what is now an impressive body of ambient post-rock work.

 The Catastrophist by TORTOISE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.32 | 9 ratings

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The Catastrophist
Tortoise Post Rock/Math rock

Review by zravkapt
Special Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

4 stars In 2010 the city of Chicago commissioned the members of Tortoise to compose a suite of music honoring the city's jazz and improv community. Some of the music on The Catastrophist originated in embryonic form during that time. However, those ideas were expanded upon for the finished product. Other songs originated from sessions for previous albums while two new songs feature vocals. Unusual for this band but not unheard of; their first single from 1993 had vocals and lyrics, and they had a song on their 2004 album which featured a cut-up wordless guest female vocal. This album is a curious mix of Tortoise by numbers and Tortoise trying to do new things. Their first album since 2009, the multi-instrumentalist members have been busy doing other things since but saved their "that sounds like Tortoise" bits for this album.

There are only two bands that could have made the title track: Tortoise or a band trying to sound like Tortoise. Classic mid-paced Tortoise with a nice melodic twist at the end. "Ox Duke" is more classic Tortoise that would have fit on the TNT album. Another surprise towards the end when everything gets more minimalistic and cinematic sounding. One of the vocal songs here is a cover of the 1973 'one-hit wonder' "Rock On" by David Essex. For a pop hit from 1973, the original was already weird. The version here is more stripped back but also more spacey sounding, the double bass reminding one of early Tortoise. Todd Ritman of noise rock band U.S. Maple does the vocals. This sort of has a similar vibe to the covers album they did back in 2006 with Bonnie 'Prince' Billy.

"Shake Hands With Danger" is a highlight. This one does not sound era-specific. A simple steady beat throughout but it's what is going on over top that is interesting. Nice guitar tone and melodies here. "Gesceap" was the first song previewed from the album and it's not surprising therefore it's also one of the highlights. Certainly the most energenic song here. Starts out hypnotic and electronic but drums and guitar show up while the synths get less hypnotic and more melodic. The drumming and distorted bass create a tense atmosphere over halfway. "Hot Coffee" originated as an idea during the It's All Around You sessions. Possibly the funkiest thing Tortoise ever did. Another highlight which doesn't sound specific to any era or album.

"Yonder Blue" is the other vocal song. Featuring the vocals and lyrics of Georgia Hubley from indie legends Yo La Tenga. Musically this sounds very un-Tortoise. Easy going and ballad like, the song itself is alright but the production sounds too demo-like in my opinion. "Tesseract" is the jazziest piece on the album. Another standout but could have fit on any of the band's post-TNT albums. I have to admit that every time I listen to The Catastrophist I enjoy it more and more, it's a grower. The vocal tracks don't really reward many repeated listens but the best instrumental tracks show how textured they are. Not the best Tortoise album but neither the worst. Fans of Jaga Jazzists last album may like this. I'll give this 4 stars.

 This World by WATTER album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.00 | 3 ratings

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This World
Watter Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Guldbamsen
Special Collaborator Retired Admin

4 stars Ocean Pocket

I feel a little funny being the first to write about this album. I'd imagined the pairing of Zak Riles from Grails with drummer off the now legendary band Slint Britt Walford would make a bigger splash around these parts, yet 'This World' seems to have faded into obscurity even before it had it's day in the sun.

Tony Levin plays on this bad boy too. Ahhh there you go! You read a name you could sympathise with. This is not your everyday King Crimsonian effort though. 'This World' sounds more like a natural extension of what Zak Riles has been doing with his main band Grails for the last 10 years, which is a modern east meets west kind of thang - at times coming awfully close to a high breeze Popol Vuh on American steroids.

This album though sounds altogether more fluid and serene than anything Grails has ever put out. The music literally oozes out of your speakers - fluctuating between luscious electronic laden tidal waves and high towering post rock gestures. The individual tunes all have this watery connotation to them that echo the beautiful blue front cover...even when punctuated by the oaky note of an acoustic guitar. This genuinely speaks to my old friend synaesthesia.

Brief subdued piano segments to underline a melody. Chug-chugging sequencers imitating nature's own mechanical beat. Plucked guitar patterns slowly building into riffs and spiralling crescendos. One thing though; the music makes you wait a little before it lets you in on it's secret, but when it does you're swimming!

It's bubbly, floating, highly electronic yet rocking in all the right places - comes forth in big all-embracing waves of sound that more than anything else in 'this world' makes you feel at ease at sea...like being scooped up into the pocket of an ocean.

 Contextually Inept by TANGLED THOUGHTS OF LEAVING album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2010
3.00 | 2 ratings

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Contextually Inept
Tangled Thoughts Of Leaving Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Siddhartha

5 stars I found this Song first time four..five years ago. And I was astonished. Very melodic, harmonic and floating but same time atavistic, noisy and nervous. Brilliant. I have listened this countless times and I still enjoy it as I did in first time I heard it. Now how many song actually do that. For me not many. Start. Kind of Beethoven 5. but in 3 seconds. You know wake up call. Then laid back melodies with rhythmic variations which really gives song some depth. After two minutes it kind of starts and again the drums... but this only lasts about minute or so. Then again it chainges to kind of lift. Opening in 4:57-58 and after that is like from symphony and yet not. And very strong and powerfull ending. I'm bit out of words, still after all these years.

One of best songs I have ever heard.

 ATGCLVLSSCAP by ULVER album cover Live, 2016
3.87 | 12 ratings

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ATGCLVLSSCAP
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team

4 stars Have I mentioned before that I LOVE ULVER! I love the creative, adventuresome, unpredictable, ever-evolving spirit that is this band. To me, this is an essential feature of the most creative bands/artists'the willingness and drive to constantly try new things, the curiosity and fearlessness to experiment with new media and new styles and new techniques. I don't know if it's driven by a desire to grow, by insatiable curiosity, by envy and respect of other musical styles, or the mental discipline to always try to test oneself, but Ulver seem to constantly reinvent themselves. (Which is one of the reasons that Ulver should be the poster-child for the campaign to get ProgArchves to let go of the system of categorizing a band/artist into one and only one sub-genre'forever and ever'based upon a one-time decision-making process.) While many reviewers of this album are citing a turn in direction toward a German Kosmische Musik influence coming through on this one, I would go a bit further and urge people to consider the influence of the entire career of Holger Czukay'soundscapes and radio sampling being the special focus. Garm and mates must be huge fans. The life-work of ambient music pioneer Brian Eno is also heavily drawn upon here, no doubt.

1. 'England's Hidden' (7:39) opens with sample recordings of church/cathedral bells ringing (how Brian Eno!) over which an odd glockenspiel arpeggio and some Beatles-esque dissonant string orchestra chords are sustained into slow crescendo. As the strings take the fore and begin playing in real chord sequences, the bells and glock fade away. I am strongly reminded of Eno's Discreet Music album as well as some of the Fairlight CMI work Peter Gabriel incorporated into his 1982 eponymously titled album (also called 'Security'). Truly an awesome, stunning, masterful song. (10/10)

2. 'Glammer Hammer' (4:49) opens as a bleed over from the previous song before taking on a kind of X-Files theme played by U2 and THE CURE. Cool, awesome, moving song. The break at the 2:15 mark is so creepy as they engineer the tunings of the sounds/instruments before entering into a heavier rock phase of the song'one that is very familiar to those of us who have heard a lot of Ulver's discography. Awesome song with some awesome drumming and a great build up to the contrasting pastoral ending. (10/10)

3. 'Moody Stix' (6:44) has a kind of Asian feel and sound to it, with many percussives, tuned and untuned, contributing to the mix in the first minute. The arrival of electric guitar power chords, deep heavy bass, and heavily treated psycho-babble from the lead guitar cannot quite offset the kind of circus atmosphere created by the percussives and drum kit'the later of which become more dominant as the song progresses to its end. This could be a great contribution to a soundtrack to a film scene. (8/10)

4. 'Cromagnosis' (9:48) is a two-part, two-tempoed song, the first very psychelic yet engaging in a lilting Kosmiche kind of way, the second more like a driving WHO or MOTORPSYCHO song. It is great. It all works'bongos and all. (9/10)

5. 'The Spirits that Lend Strength Are Invisible' (3:16) bleeds over from 'Cromgnosis' like an interlude the band need to tune instruments and reconfigure keyboard and computer programs. About 1:40 in some heavily treated percussives and then a little later some pitch-modulated synth sounds play over the base-line mix. Very EnoAmbient, Apollo era-esque. (8/10)

6. 'Om Hanumate Namah' (7:42) is pure Kosmiche Musik complete with awesome chanting, Edge Evans guitar style, and some great drumming a la Vespero. Awesome and enthralling! (10/10)

7. 'Desert/Dawn' (8:34) is dominated by the immense palette of a church organ though simple bass, drum and multiple synths play their weave over the top in a Math Rock kind of way. (8/10)

8. 'D-Day Drone' (9:21) has an apocalyptic Shadows of the Sun-like feel to it with multiple synth washes and tympanic-bass laying solid foundation of doom and ominosity for a Holger Czukay-like radio sample of some traditional Persian-like instrument played over the top by a synthesizer. During the second half the organ takes over as provider of base/background while radio voice samples take over for the lead instrument. (9/10)

9. 'Gold Beach' (4:52) continues the theme of peaceful organ-play over which radio samples are slipped in and out. Don't know why, but this song really gets me. So cool, so relaxing. In a David Sylvian kind of way. Awesome chord progressions used by the organ. (10/10)

10. 'Nowhere (Sweet Sixteen)' (5:56) is a more 'normal' song in that it has an ABACAB structure and traditional four-piece rock band lineup. I find the song most interesting for reminding me how much I like the vocal talents of bandleader Kristoffer Rygg. (How does he hold that note for so long in the fifth minute?) More Post Rock in the ANATHEMA-style'though I really like the way the drums are recorded. (8/10)

11. 'Ecclesiastes (A Vernal Catnap)' (9:01) is a treated piano and heavily synthed background over which someone is reading for the first 3:30 in what I presume to be Norwegian while in the second half Garm sings the English version of the New Testament's famous verses from Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, verses 1-8. Over bongos. Kind of cool but unnecessary (though I love the parenthetical title). (8/10)

12. 'Solaris' (2:12) is a very odd and edgy ambient piece with a strings-synth chord sequence and female operatic singing providing the background within which a heavily oscillated volume controlled instrument (or instruments?) of undetermined name (drums?) weaves its railroad-like melody into the mix. Fascinating in a Baroque music listening quiz kind of way. (9/10)

I have to agree with several of the reviewers who have already made their judgement over this album that it is one of the best Ulver albums I've ever heard'certainly one of the most interesting and intriguing. Too early to know if this will be considered one of their masterpieces but we'll certainly know by next December.

4.5 stars, rated down, for now, for no good reason that I can think of . . . .

 Woohoo! by CHON album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2014
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Woohoo!
CHON Post Rock/Math rock

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
2 stars In March 2014 this US band CHON released their second EP which is a bit different from the first one and in my humble opinion, represents a step forward on the band's creative process. This EP entitled Woohoo! can also be found and listened on their bandcamp site, so if you want to have 16 minutes of nice music, you can go and have fun with these six-song release.

The first track is a nice introduction that does not represent the band's sound, instead they bring us acoustic guitar moments that let us know the guitar man's skills. With "Knot" the math rock element appears but perfectly blend with a jazzy and fusion style, something that I think was not that evident on their first EP. "Ecco" has another new element: vocals. For the first time they put voice and lyrics on one of their pieces, and they do it nice. The rhythm is semi slow, charming and sensual at the same time. Easy to dig, a bit poppish but nice anyways.

"Sketch" offers the (I think) true CHON sound. Pure math rock with some djent and jazzy nuances. There are both fast and slow moments that are perfectly structured by these four musicians who know how to take advantage of their guitars, bass and drums. This is probably my favorite track from their two EPs.

"Dust" is a softer track, once again they bring acoustic guitar giving us a moment of relaxation and why not, introspection. Finally "Suda", which is a nice math rock track that ends this nice EP. With this improvement, I am now sure that their full-length album (which I am yet to listen) will bring me a positive experience.

*Now don't pay attention to my rating, because as a reviewer I have my "own rules" which don't allow me to rate releases under 20 minutes with more than 2 stars, unless it is the EP or single of my life.

Enjoy it!

 Newborn Sun by CHON album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2013
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Newborn Sun
CHON Post Rock/Math rock

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
2 stars Nice but not memorable debut EP.

Here in Mexico I've been reading a lot of comments regarding this US band named CHON, a relatively new project by four musicians whose likes go from emo core to math rock, passing through djent and even metal. Later I saw they were included here in Prog Archives so I immediately wanted to know more about them and of course, listen to their music. Fortunately, I found their first EP available at their bandcamp site, because I wanted to dig them from the very beginning, before listening to their first full-length album.

What I found here in Newborn Sun, is a nice bunch of seven short instrumental songs that gives us the band's first steps. Labelling them as a math rock band fits perfectly, however there are moments in which they tend to bring sounds closer to emo and hardcore. The music is easy to dig, so anyone could listen and enjoy these 15 minutes without feeling bored, however, I believe there are not outstanding moments, no memorable track that I would highly suggest, no, but it is a nice first effort which marks the start of a new project, and that I assume led to the production of their first full-length album.

My favorite tracks were "Fluffy" and "Dew". I suggest this EP to math rock and djent lovers, you will have a good time. Enjoy it!

 Gloss Drop by BATTLES album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.70 | 70 ratings

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Gloss Drop
Battles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Second record proper from the American art-techs and though Gloss Drop could never be called boring, it shows a band almost there but not quite yet, still reaching for what they do best and fumbling in the predawn hours of their musical journey for an original and focused sound. Granted, Gary Numan and several Japanese guests make fun appearances and five years later we got the incomparable La Di Da Di, so maybe it was worth it. But this second full-length disc will not sway many prog fans to the strange and exotic pleasures of Williams, Stanier and Konopka. That's for sure.

The continuous Balalaika plectrums of Ian Williams founds Dave Konopka's stringed effects on long and lumbering 'Africastle', more in the experimental vein and not a terribly engaging first cut. But the obscene huffing of 'Ice Cream' with its Ray Davies-like whining & whimpering lightens things up. Finally 'Futura' and its attractive muted guitar chords brings the flavor and builds nicely over key walls, neat noises, and unexpected tonal colors; Vaguely industrial, seamlessly transferring to sister track 'Inchworm' and 'Wall Street' picking up a little slack.

Light and winsome 'My Machines' has synthrocker Gary Numan doing some good things over a rather Prog drone, vaguely Bowie, definitely worthy, and Kazu Makino gives a sensuous performance on 'Sweetie & Shag'. Very cute 'Toddler' reflects its title (and shows these guys could do commercial Trade music with their eyes closed), combative 'Rolls Bayce' and downright military march of 'White Electric' sums up a promising but ultimately unrealized statement of contemporary Art Rock. A very good try, though, and their next would prove the threesome's vision and skill as important composers.

 The Catastrophist by TORTOISE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.32 | 9 ratings

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The Catastrophist
Tortoise Post Rock/Math rock

Review by LearsFool
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

5 stars It is fair to say that Tortoise are legends in the post rock canon. While surprisingly left in the dust by many in the critical "cognoscenti", especially when the time comes to make that Best of The '90's list, they've made four of the most commanding classics of their genre. From standard post soundscapes that incorporated IDM to beating Do May Say Think at their own energetic game, they tore through musical history before missteping with 2004's "It's All Around You", and after a surprisingly poor collaboration with the similarly legendary Bonnie "Prince" Billy just about got back on their feet with 2009's "Beacons of Ancestorship", though this wasn't a proper return to form, and they fell silent in the studio for seven years.

So they needed a comeback, and did they ever make one. This forgets about the last fifteen years of their career and picks up where "Standards" left off, and so this record is fast paced, tight, and lightly experimental. For the first time they've added vocals to some of their tracks, most notably their surprise cover of David Essex's "Rock On", and do so to unique and strong effect. As well, they've brought back their electronic side, now subbing out smooth IDM in favour of bedroom indietronica, wonderfully complementing their energetic rock. Otherwise, this is an album that would be familiar to people who've dug both "Millions Now Living Will Never Die" and "TNT", one that they'd likely agree with me deserves five stars, and not for necessarily pushing boundaries but for being a solid, fresh, and wonderful listen from a band we came to love for always trying something a little new. Welcome back, Tortoise.

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Post Rock/Math rock bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
*ANCIENTS Multi-National
[BLEU] Switzerland
100 ONCES United States
1099 Norway
12TWELVE Spain
33.3 United States
37500 YENS France
3ND Japan
417.3 Russia
52 COMMERCIAL ROAD United Kingdom
65DAYSOFSTATIC United Kingdom
A. ARMADA United States
ABOUT TESS Japan
ACANTILADOS Argentina
ACROSS THE WAVES Iran
ACTARUS Luxembourg
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