[Post-Rock] – ‘Post-Rock 1979-1989’

Stream the mix while you read; download at the bottom of this post.

So this may not be quite what Simon Reynolds had in mind when he used the term “post-rock” to describe Bark Psychosis–but then again, probably neither is the way it’s generally been used since. In common usage since the late 1990s, “post-rock,” even more than “post-punk” before it, is a term of convenience, a shorthand pointing to a nebulous web of interrelated sounds, far more than any self-consciously adhered-to genre. It’s a “know it when you hear it” label. For me, listening in the 1990s and early 2000s, it meant bands as diverse (and sometimes disparate) in sound as Tortoise, Slint, Low, Dirty Three, For Carnation, Fennesz, Mogwai, Gastr Del Sol, Earth, Don Caballero, Disco Inferno, Rachel’s, and yes, Bark Psychosis. There’s the sense of the odd couple of Slint and Talk Talk as ground zero of the sounds associated with “post-rock,” but those bands themselves make clear there is no ground/year zero–Talk Talk’s evolution from excellent new wave pop band into their ultimate form (the likes of which necessitated a new genre name) is evidence post-rock had a long history before it was formally categorized as such.

Post-Rock 1979-1989‘ gathers some of my favorite evidence of post-rock’s position in a continuum of avant-garde-leaning rock music, always created (in any era) from the same boundlessly exploratory impulses. Yes, as with the ‘Post-Punk 1968-1977‘ mix, I’m being a bit cheeky and “revisionist” here–but with the purpose of celebrating the oddly-shaped, diffuse “genre” for its odd shapes and inability to be pinned down. Post-rock mostly has its roots in compositional minimalism, ambient music, experimental electronics, non-Western musics, prog-rock, metal, post-punk, and progressive forms of jazz–and a future mix will trace back to these “origins” in the 1970s (which of course themselves were never ex nihilo). But after the high-tide of post-punk in ’78-’82, these sorts of sounds don’t seem to have been thought of holistically and in their relationship to one another by critics and canonizers. So this mix traces “bridge years,” you could say, between previously codified genres and “post-rock” as it’s commonly understood–but bridge years that, to my ears, sound as fully-realized and potent as anything more mythologized from years before and after. Musicophilia regularly draws from the well of displaced sounds–music on the margins of genre where the barriers come down; music that is out-of-time by virtue of being out-of-step with our typical pop-culture narratives (which isn’t to say it’s “obscure” music, per se–obscurity for its own sake isn’t of interest). Those sorts of sounds fascinate me because, dislocated from our common signifiers (of Eightiesness, etc.) they feel eternally alive, ripe, exciting, vital, and in movement. That’s usually a good place to be–the perpetual next place. Post-rock from the 80s left Reagan and Thatcher to turn to dust, and I’m glad this music so energetically outlives its originating time.

Download/stream the mix below the tracklist. As always, please, buy this music, support the artists, support the shops and labels that get this music out there for us all to enjoy. Without your direct support, music will become a streaming commodity that can’t support artists, won’t create community, will isolate us rather than bring us together–and, in a streaming-only world, can disappear at any moment. Buy music to make it last–don’t rent it. Now more than ever.

Various – ‘Post-Rock 1979-1989’

Part I

01 [00:00] Gigi Masin – “First Time Ruth Saw the Sea” (‘Les Nouvelles Musiques de Chambre, Vol. 2’ 1989)
02 [01:00] Laughing Hands – “No Tiles” (‘Ledge’ 1980)
03 [05:30] Massacre – “As-Is” (‘Killing Time’ 1981)
04 [10:25] Michael Brook & Brian Eno – “Earth Floor” (‘Hybrid’ 1985)
05 [13:00] Peter Gabriel – “Disturbed” (‘Passion’ 1989)
06 [15:40] This Heat – “24 Track Loop” (‘This Heat’ 1979)
07 [21:20] Phantom Band – “Nowhere” (‘Nowhere’ 1984)
08 [24:35] Harold Budd – “Against the Sky” (‘The Pearl’ 1984)
09 [25:40] Material – “On Sadism” (‘Temporary Music EP’ 1979)
10 [29:00] Spacemen 3 – “Honey” (‘Playing with Fire’ 1989)
11 [31:50] Dif Juz – “Gunet” (‘Extractions’ 1985)
12 [37:00] Dome – “Ampnoise” (‘Dome’ 1980)
13 [37:40] The Cure – “Carnage Visors” (‘Carnage Visors Soundtrack’ 1981)

Part II

14 [46:40] My Bloody Valentine – “No More Sorry” (‘Isn’t Anything’ 1988)
15 [49:25] Bill Frisell – “In Line” (‘In Line’ 1983)
16 [53:50] Camberwell Now – “Working Nights” (‘The Ghost Trade’ 1986)
17 [60:50] Penguin Cafe Orchestra – “Numbers 1-4” (‘Penguin Cafe Orchstra’ 1981)
18 [67:30] Glenn Branca – “The Spectacular Commodity” (‘The Ascension’ 1981)
19 [80:00] The Durutti Column – “Never Known” (‘LC’ 1981)
20 [86:40] Colin Newman – “Fish 4” (‘Provissionally Entitled The Singing Fish’ 1981)
21 [91:10] Talk Talk – “It’s Getting Late in the Evening” (‘Life’s What You Make It’ single 1986)

[Total Time: 1:36:50]

Download ‘Post-Rock 1979-1989’ Here (Mixed mp3, 242 MB)

Stream here:

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