A stunning collection of Greek bands have emerged throughout recent years who are running with the boundary-pushing nature of post-rock beyond previous limits. More than simply a collection of sounds interesting on an academic level, these groups’ output includes remarkably attention-grabbing and ultimately wonderfully immersive sonic experiences. The music feels ready to be the soundtrack to your next adventure, and your vantage point gets to be wherever you happen to be listening.
The most recent music from the Athens-based group Afformance floats through gentle but substantive and gripping sonic contemplations of what feel like the limits of our human experience. The questions aren’t explicit — there are no lyrics — but the poignantly not quite standard-conforming melodies suggest this aim for us to stop and listen. Physically, the songs are a bit more understated than that description might suggest, but the group pack in such beautiful, building guitar melodies, plenty of piano work, and powerfully ethereal and poignant drum rhythms that their songs feel like a glimpse into some beautiful environment, undisturbed by humans. In that metaphor, the subtly catchy rhythms that softly come and go throughout tracks like 2017’s “Youth Corrupter” might feel like colorful butterflies floating across your field of vision after poking through some brush. The experience of the band’s complete dive into alluring musical wistfulness proves that immersive — there are no apparent ties here to any kind of already done let alone overdone rock music, or anything of the sort. Their tones all pack soft edges. Ultimately, they’ve melded softly catchy pop melody with the structure reshaping, entirely instrumental framework of post-rock. They deliver perfectly on the promise suggested by their 2017 album title Music for Imaginary Film #1.
The cinematic-feeling experience of the Ionian Islands-based Deadile’s late 2019 album The Oddity of Human Structures feels stunningly rich. There’s no shortage of different textures in this group’s often long, sprawling, experiential songs, which largely feel designed to evoke the experience of travel through some of those “odd human structures.” Towards the beginning, the group even features a mandolin (which sounds like a banjo) and some kind of horn right alongside their slowly but surely building rock melody, like they’re tapping out some kind of demented but inescapably powerful rhythm from the backwoods so far off in the distance that ideas of geographic boundaries all kind of blend together. On that track — “This Hollow Land” — one of the vocalists even sounds like a folk singer performing with a twang familiar to fans of American folk music — just, they’re from Greece, which suggests some wonderful cultural interconnectedness in addition to the top-level implications of the music.
The music gets somber at times as the band veer around their smorgasbord of non-traditional instrumentation, which includes a trumpet, a saxophone, a cello, a violin, a french horn, and more. Moments intertwining keys, guitar, and orchestral stringed instrumentation feel really beautiful. Deadfile deliver loud and thick drama throughout the entirety of their latest record, really, and the piece ends up sounding like the band’s take on a hypnotic, tribal initiation ritual into power.
On their 2018 album Chains For The Sea, the Giannitsa-based Halocraft play somewhat straightforwardly extended post-rock songs (most of which have no lyrics), but their performance style feels wistful and dreamy, like they’re truly enacting the story of “a little girl who found a gift that fell from the sky centuries ago,” as their Bandcamp page describes the album’s concept. As established on the album’s very first song, the band stick to often quite thin instrumentation, but with just the catchy, extended rhythms performed on a handful of traditional rock instruments accompanied by some keys and subtle sound effects, Halocraft soar. When they develop into more dramatic but never overwhelming-feeling performances, the group feel like they’ve truly earned the leap thanks to their careful breathability. On this album, they’ve expertly carved out a place for the beautification and elevation of a kind of very everyday melody. In that process, they even explore jazzy and dancey textures, and their journey ultimately feels very unified thanks to their consistently confident-sounding performances. Nothing feels overdone; instead, they’ve held their intensity right at the moderate point providing for the wonderfully immersive journey of their music.
I Am No Hero
The Athens-based I Am No Hero produced a sleeper hit of cyberpunk post-rock on their late 2018 album called, fittingly, Cyberpunk. The band float through very catchy but memorably understated melody that’s soaked in sonic explorations that feel like they wouldn’t be out of place on some kind of futuristic but ominously deserted street corner like depicted in the album art. The band’s utilization of feedback and sound effects to fill out the story of their album works perfectly. The easily palpable, atmospheric, and subtly catchy riffs are there, but so is the slowly boiling over ambiance, the meandering feedback, and occasional louder bursts of energy that deliver feelings of some kind of volatile dance hall thanks to the perfectly orchestrated instability of the surrounding portions.
Carrying on with the film-related metaphors, there’s a cloud of somberness hanging over the whole experience, like there’s some kind of noir detective drama playing out on this futuristic street. On Cyberpunk, I Am No Hero never really get into any music that sounds bright and cheery, but there’s an inescapable power, and the confidence that the band display in seeing this power through is really to be commended.
The Athens-band we.own.the.sky quickly prove to be pretty remarkably heavy on their 2019 album titled simply Home. If not for the absence of lyrics and the birds-eye-view of the album as an actually quite intricate creation, the songs might even feel at home at some kind of more mainstream rock or hardcore festival. The band feel like they’ve captured the catchily energetic riffs that underlie that music’s appeal and liberated them for a more straightforward experience. There aren’t many distracting frills — the band’s entire energy feels focused on delivering on the drama promised by their riffs, which — wonderfully! — get to be really fully realized here. Listening feels like finally getting to turn some catchy riff snippets floating around other corners of the rock world into an exciting, fuller experience to step into. The music at times gets very fast and physically intense, and sometimes like during the opening of the track “Heavy Heart,” even feels like a kind of classic metallic hardcore beatdown, but the listener never really gets lost. Overall, the band do include plenty of varying dynamics to really appreciate their performances of straightforward rock heaviness, and there’s always an amply evident north star of the musicians’ consistently tight performances.