In at least some if not all of these cases — that title is not an exaggeration, and in all, the feeling is definitely on point. Keep reading for protest post-rock, an enveloping harsh noise hurricane, and more.
Tristan Welch – “Monday”
Did you know that lyric-less post-rock could be a form of protest music? Taken from his early 2019 release 40 Hours, Tristan Welch’s track “Monday” feels like it lands remarkable ambition with a resounding and alluring success. The concept behind the album is chronicling the drag of the work week, as suggested by the title. Like this first one, every track is named after some stage in that week. When considered in that context, this track alone feels like it raises the voice of those trapped in that grind and, remarkably enough, gives it the beautiful power it deserves.
Throughout “Monday,” there’s a blatant, top-layer, repetitive melodic idea that as it proceeds, gets joined by some other sonic breadth while never really losing any of the original force. This repetition feels like it fits very well with the stated concept of this record chronicling the modern corporate work week — indeed, that might be one of the most obvious examples of repetition that marks our lives in this day and age in the first place. Welch doesn’t just stop there, though. If that was all he was doing, the same could have been accomplished by turning audio samples from an office into an album. Instead, the tones that he uses for his melody on this track and for the added flourishes that grow as it proceeds feel strikingly bright, like a sonic encapsulation of sunlight gradually breaking through clouds or a row of window shades (like say, in an office…) slowly but surely opening up.
Welch doesn’t just tell a technical story of a “work week,” instead situating his concept in a fitting psychological glow, and it’s remarkable.
Dive in here:
Magical Mind – “Smother”
Chicago’a Magical Mind is a frankly rather stunning harsh noise project, whose July release 7.21.2019 is available to listen to now. On the second track from that release, “Smother,” the mastermind behind this mania delivers exactly what the title might suggest — a choking blanket of noise that only gets pulled tighter around your neck as the track proceeds.
The music is super thick, and at least in this track there’s not much of a sense of beat at all. It’s all strangling atmospherics — but even within this framework, there’s a fascinating, captivating (for the right person) progression. Although unintelligible, there are a couple of apparent vocal bursts that come in towards the end, and overall, there’s a feeling delivered in this track of a torrential storm coming down only ever harder. It’s been said before, but if you’re interested in seeing how far you can go mentally, musically, and more, and thereby experiencing a taste of the great beyond that just might give you a greater appreciation for the breadth of life (good and bad) to begin with — this is for you. It’s extreme, and not remotely subtle, but it’s the captivating soundtrack to a physically toxic hellscape — which doesn’t sound too different from “real life” when you think about it, does it?
Listen at your own risk:
Erebus – “Luster”
Unfortunately, the Texas project Erebus seem to have only one track out so far. Called “Luster,” it emerged last November. No matter, this one taste of their musical vision seems like a glimpse into a trippy but beautiful alternate universe of sorts. They play a technically proficient, almost mathcore-esque, broad post-metal, and they intersperse their bursts of passion with a somewhat soothing, shoegazey sense of atmosphere. Mathcore-gaze hasn’t exactly emerged as a broad genre idea — yet, and this group feels at the front of a pack. “Luster” feels somewhat like the musical stylings of a leading post-hardcore band (think A Lot Like Birds) made significantly more extreme and taken to a perfectly fitting next step, shifts between intensities and all. There aren’t even any vocals on “Erebus,” so the music gets that much more of a chance to shine.
Thanks to the dynamics that the band pack into this track, it feels like transforming some of the energy of the technicality and even the unsettling atmospherics into an experience to immerse in. “Luster” thereby becomes the song of a new experience — visiting a new place, person, or otherwise getting your mental horizons expanded.
Check it out:
The Sun and the Mirror – “Currents”
The Boise project The Sun and the Mirror present a stunningly emotionally resonant form of slowly creeping drone music that might be called a sort of experimental doom on their 2018 demo and its opening track, “Currents.” The song feels like it delivers an unsettling mirror portrait of shared human psychology — and more specifically, a feeling of being lost without a certain path forward.
Although there’s somewhat of a precedent for this sort of music having no lyrics whatsoever, and the subtle but tantalizingly hinted power in this track feels like it could have easily flourished without lyrics, the band feel like they add an actually rather remarkable additional dimension with their vocal content. Musically, the band spend minutes on end with pretty much nothing but a confidence-laden, slowly repeating drone idea, but while this is proceeding and getting to work unhinging your mind from its favorite hiding spot, there’s also a lyrical story going on via somewhat glitched but still clearly enough emotionally fitting vocals. The poetry appears to tell a tale of nighttime meeting in a somewhat subtly volatile environment that culminates in part in a muted but desperate plea for someone to “please tell us what we are.” Musically, there’s no clear answer in sight. Instead, “Currents” feels like a musical encapsulation of the question itself, which might be all we truly have in the “real world” to begin with.
Listen in here:
Summer Like The Season – “Wakey”
On the project’s July 2018 release “Wakey,” Detroit’s Summer Like The Season sound somewhat like a wonderfully weirder version of some of your favorite elements of music you might hear from a likable mainstream alternative project like Of Monsters and Men or Fitz and The Tantrums. The simple refrain: “It’s time to sleep; I’m wide awake in a daze” feels remarkably catchy every time it comes in, suspended in a trippy but musically captivating fog of tones as it is.
At least in this example, the music from this project feels remarkably thick. While maintaining some of the catchy pop sensibilities that might be most apparent on the surface, Summer Like The Season really let their various ingredients flourish and really, well, pop. There’s not much of a sense of musical uncertainty here, which could detract from the listening experience. Instead, the band sound like they’re proceeding confidently ahead into the life experiences which they’ve sketched out here. This music soundtracks a daily life — and we’ve all got one of those, so who couldn’t use a soundtrack like that? Emotional uncertainty like captured so elegantly here is a shared human experience.