Arizona’s Still Motions Premiere Elevating New Ambient, Post-Rock LP – Listen Here!

syn∙the∙sis – a lush, new album from the Phoenix post-rock group Still Motions via Post. Recordings – sounds like a gentle awakening. You’re exhausted on a hillside – or floor – but the sun brightens, and slowly, an inward grasp at life rises.

Listen to the album below! First, here’s a brief review:

The strength of the often moderately paced instrumentals seems life-affirming, like the band found power in moments of precarious emotion, using forceful guitars to not just take but highlight the choice of life when teetering between becoming just totally lost in sorrow and eventually finding a way to keep on. It’s invigorating when the music – sending out that metaphorical wake-up call – rises like a burst of wind delivering the critical push to save somebody from drifting at sea.

Crescendos – and really the journey up to them and down from their heights – help make post-rock, as one might call it, special, and genre terms are obviously hard to pin down, but syn∙the∙sis delivers a refreshingly bright (rather than, say, completely emotionally overpowering) version of that experience (not that alternatives aren’t exciting on their own sometimes). Sometimes, the pace is delicate and careful – reflecting experiences of mental weight – and other times, it’s lively. Somehow, it keeps at it — the music keeps going.

“For Some, Peace Never Comes” seems to meditate on the quiet. In moments when it’s just you and background noise, the track finds and follows a compelling through line of melody as it steadily builds. It’s like sitting alone in a darkened room, having accepted what’s going on both outside and inside – and then, an inexplicable flicker of light appears, slowly expanding to fill the environment.

The track definitely ventures through a thick fog. Here and across the album, the music is richly textured, but that’s not where the metaphorical day ends. Instead, you can find solace in the gently elevating moments. The music seems to communicate a sense of longing, and the persistence of that sense suggests it’s not entirely fulfilled… but it’s not left unaddressed either. Even when breaking into more intense performances, Still Motions sound tonally warm – nothing seems so jarring as to be uninviting or ominous. The music seems to surround you, like a cloud falling to earth and turning its surroundings into a surreal, dream-like state – and in something as free-flowing as that, there’s a definite sense of promise.

syn∙the∙sis sounds crisp, but expansive. It’s perhaps surprisingly lively at times, in the sense that its finely tuned tracks seem to really pop. They don’t feel, well, sad – instead, pushing forward adds on an experience of subtle adventure, as though the album is gently making you realize hope’s a possibility. “Agnosia” sounds positively exuberant – at least to me – and it’s energizing.

Find Still Motions on Bandcamp at this link. Nab vinyl from Post. Recordings at this link and in the U.K./ E.U. from Juno Records at this link.

Dive into syn∙the∙sis below! (If there’s a problem with displaying the music, please refresh the page and/ or wait a moment.

Below, check out an interview with Thomas Brenneman, one of the band’s guitarists.

Going into the Creative Process

In a sort of meta sense, what are some of the things you find most intriguing about making music, if something comes to mind? What sort of draws you in? Is it something you’d just always see yourself/ yourselves doing, within reason?

For me personally, it’s always provided an opportunity to escape. It allows me to get out of my own head and just feel things through the music. I started playing originally because I had friends that played a bunch of different instruments, and started a band. I felt left out so I just picked up guitar, and never looked back. Now I couldn’t imagine not playing music. It’s been very healing to me overall.

The absence of lyrics leaves things intriguingly open-ended — that’s a feature I personally often find nice about some “post-rock.” Are there particular emotional states and journeys that you guys sought to explore when creating this record? 

This record really explores a lot as far as emotional states go. We started writing it at the beginning of the pandemic. I had just lost my career of the last 10 years, and had no idea what I was going to do. There was a lot of fear and uncertainty that came across in the tracks. The pandemic however brought me a lot of new opportunity as well. It feels weird to say, but a lot of good came from the mix-up it caused in my life.

So the record touches on hope and a desire to come back stronger. There was also some death that occurred within the band’s family members. Along with that came a sense of mourning and loss. It’s interesting, because we weren’t necessarily thinking of these things while writing, but listening back now, it’s apparent that those emotions were all lingering at the time of writing, because they come across so clearly in the music.

 

Connecting with Listeners and Finding Footing

I could name a variety of elements to the mood that vividly stick out to me — the music is remarkably vivacious. Sometimes, it seems somewhat triumphant. Are there particular emotional themes that you’d hope shine through for listeners? Is there something you’d hope those listening would sort of take from it, even if it’s a vague idea?

Absolutely. The overall theme of the record is that ultimately you’re dealt with shitty cards. This pandemic affected not only us, but everyone in different ways. It’s about choosing to not just sit back and continue to get hit over and over again. It’s about healing, growing, and choosing your own path to ultimately overcome all of the bad that you may have been dealt.

The album seems richly textured — there are a variety of sonic threads pulling on things in there. Are there specific stylistic components you wanted to work into the music? Or was it more about simply following along with where the songwriting went? Some of both?

Honestly, it’s more about where the songwriting takes us. I prefer to not necessarily stick to a certain “style” if you will. Obviously, we’re a post-rock band, but what that means to me is that we can experiment, and really do whatever we want. The new thing we introduced on this record was more piano. I’ve really enjoyed playing piano lately, and use it a lot as a writing tool now. So there are definitely some new “layers” in there on this record.

I’m always a fan of how immersive certain post-rock is — you can really get lost in it. If you had to imagine this album as the soundtrack to a movie that doesn’t exist, what do you think the plot would be like, if you can think of something?

I think it would be exactly the way we see the theme of the record laying out. The main character would be dealing with a lot of adversity in their life, whether it be death, or some other kind of loss. It would tell the story of them mourning, going through the paces of trying to heal from the event. That mourning and healing would start to turn to hope, and they would defeat all odds to be better from the situation, to have a better life, better mental health.

 

Other Great Post-Rock Out There

I know it’s no doubt been awhile, but I remember some of my first run-ins with certain styles, so I wanted to ask: what were your introduction to and early experiences with post-rock like, if you can recall?

I think the earliest moment of interacting with post-rock that I can remember would have to be This Will Destroy You. I stumbled across a copy of Young Mountain and I was hooked. I think later when Tides of Man’s Young and Courageous released was the moment that I was really inspired to start playing and writing post-rock.

What have been some of your favorite post-rock and post-rock-adjacent things that you’ve heard recently? What did you like about them?

I’ve been listening to Astodan’s new record, Évora, a lot lately. I’ve always really enjoyed their work and really like the addition of vocals on the latest record. Shy, Low’s release from late last year, Snake Behind The Sun, was amazing. I’ve been following the latest Secret Gardens singles and have been really enjoying those. I think they offer a really unique sound to “post” music. There’s quite a bit more, but these are just some off the top of my head.