Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Cleaning House

I've decided to clean up my computer...this, however, is the equivalent of revisiting the person I was a good near decade ago. I don't even recall why I wrote the following "journal entry", but man oh man, I'm a nerd.

Check it:
I went and saw Broadcast and the Sea and Cake last night. Since both bands have been referred to as “post-rock”, I thought it might be a worthy topic for my journal. It is really hard to define the whole genre of post rock. When I was working at Shift this summer, one of my colleagues was desperate to figure out just what exactly post-rock was. It became a bit of a project for everyone in the office. Although we could give her a list of bands: Gastr del soul, godspeed you black emperor, Do Make Say Think, Dylan Group, To Roccoco Rot, Mouse on Mars, Palace, Stereolab, Tortoise…I could go on, it was virtually impossible to define post-rock in any coherent way. I suppose this resistance to categorization could be viewed as somewhat postmodern and maybe that’s what makes a band post-rock. Interestingly though, I remember Patti Schmidt, host of CBC's terrific late night show Brave New Waves chracterizing a lot of this stuff as incredibly earnest. All of these bands are really serious about making art as opposed to music. These bands are quite somber and don’t seem to be having a great deal of fun, she was saying. There is also a lot less cynicism involved than in, say, punk rock.
What I noticed last night, particularly in Broadcast’s set, was a desire to layer—not just sounds, but images as well. They used no spotlights, but instead had an amazing film projected on a screen behind them. It was, actually, two projectors that had been set up to overlap. The films had evidently been pieced together out of old educational films and the effect was pretty spectacular. There was a particularly experimental bent to Broadcast’s performance and as I watched the performance I was able to set out somewhat of a definition of post-rock in my mind. Post-rock can not accurately be called a label in the same way “roots reggae” or “SoCal punk” are able to indicate a certain sound. Instead, post-rock indicates an attitude—perhaps even a theoretical model for music making. Each of the bands I mentioned above (and you could probably lump Radiohead in there too for good measure) seem to view music making as something that should be informed by a postmodern understanding of the world. I don’t think it is a coincidence that some critics refer to the stuff as “grad school rock”.

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