Post-Rock is a very hard-to-define genre. Generally, it's a style that needs to be heard to understand. While the genre might be associated with long compositions with crescendos, many post-rock bands, especially from the "first wave" write relatively short songs. Most commonly defined as a band that uses traditional rock instruments to play non-traditional rock music, whether it be modern classical, ambient, noise, or so on, though there are occasional exceptions
has a very confusing history. Some people credit the Velvet Underground
for starting it with songs like "Heroin" which started off extremely quiet and ended in droney, massive climax
. Other sources give credit to the "Krautrock
" movement of The '60s
and The '70s
. Another possible Ur-Example
is King Crimson
's slowly unfolding song "Starless", which contains a lengthy, Bolero Effect
-laden instrumental passage typical of the genre, while others point to the works of Public Image Ltd.
. All sources seem to agree that the movement "officially" started either in 1991, when Slint
released their album Spiderland
and Talk Talk
released Laughing Stock
, or in 1988, when Talk Talk relased Spirit of Eden
. All three albums are considered classics and are extremely influential. The term "post-rock" itself is generally considered to have been introduced as a descriptor for music of this genre in a review of Bark Psychosis' 1994 album Hex
by music journalist Simon Reynolds which appeared in Mojo
in March of that year, although Reynolds claims to have used the term before that review. note
the term in an article for The Wire
published later that year, describing it as music "using rock instrumentation for non-rock purposes, using guitars as facilitators of timbre and textures rather than riffs and power chords."
For the first few years many music enthusiasts had trouble differentiating this and the genre of Slowcore
. This is because Slint
were heavily influenced by Codeine
, often considered the first Slowcore band. For a while the droney sounds from the two got many Slowcore bands mislabeled as Post-Rock
and vice versa. Another genre which Post-Rock
is often confused with (and, indeed, does overlap with in some cases) is Space Rock
, which was an influence on it, but which has a somewhat different (read: drug-oriented
Throughout the The '90s
bands such as Cul de Sac, Tortoise, Labradford, Bowery Electric and Stars of the Lid helped mold the genre into what it resembles now. The movement sparked mainly from three different cities with their own separate scenes: Chicago, Glasgow, and Montreal.
Then, in the late 1990s and 2000s bands such as Mogwai
, Godspeed You! Black Emperor
, and Explosions In The Sky
helped expand the genre even more. Around the same time, a number of Sludge Metal
bands started picking up on the genre, resulting in "post-metal" or "atmospheric sludge". (Post-metal has actually been around since at least 1992, with Neurosis
's trope-making effort Souls at Zero
, but experienced an explosion in popularity during the 2000s with releases like Isis
and Cult of Luna
and Somewhere Along the Highway
). The genre has even been combined with Black Metal
, resulting in fusions like the works of Alcest
(whose 2013 effort Sunbather
became the most favourably reviewed album of any genre
that year). Needless to say, the underground is now littered with Post-Rock
The "big 4" of post rock are, generally, considered to be Explosions In The Sky
, Sigur Rós
, Godspeed You! Black Emperor
, and Mogwai
Bands that are generally considered to be post-rock (post-metal included):
- Silver Mt. Zion (side project sharing several members with GY!BE. Notorious for changing its name from release to release, though it's almost always some variation of "Silver Mt. Zion"; the one exception has been an EP where they were credited as "Thee Silver Mountain Reveries". Currently "Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra")
Tropes common in the genre
- Bolero Effect: While this wasn't universally common among post-rock bands when the genre was in its infancy, it's nowadays considered one of the most noteworthy characteristics of the genre.
- Darker and Edgier: Post-metal is essentially Darker and Edgier post-rock. Similarly, Black Metal/post-rock fusions tend to be Darker and Edgier post-metal (though they also tend to be Lighter and Softer when compared to most other black metal acts).
- Epic Rocking: It's difficult to find a post-rock band that hasn't used this at least once. Twenty-minute-plus songs are a staple of the genre.
- Instrumentals: Many bands do not use vocals. In fact, instrumental groups are probably more common in the genre than vocal groups.
- Limited Lyrics Song: Even if there are lyrics, they probably won't take up much of the song, or be particularly wordy. The ultimate example of this is Sigur Rós' album ( ), whose eight songs all contain the exact same nonsense line as the only lyrics on the entire album.
- Mainstream Obscurity: Some of the bands are fairly well-known, but due to the length of their songs, they rarely get played on the radio.
- Metal Scream: Extremely common in post-metal, and not entirely unheard of in post-rock either (Slint probably started it out with the epic screams at the end of "Good Morning, Captain").
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Like many other genres, post-rock started out as an example of this trope, and it's still extremely common for bands in the genre to use it even now that the genre is itself an established style. Many of its subgenres such as post-metal also started out as examples of this trope.
- No-Hit Wonder: Again, while many bands have received a fair amount of commercial success, hit singles aren't really the province of the genre.
- Sampling and Spoken Word in Music: Perhaps due to the influence of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Swans, these are frequent characteristics of post-rock music, as well as music influenced by the genre. Slint also did a lot of the latter trope.
- Spiritual Successor: The genre is sometimes considered this to Progressive Rock and Krautrock.
- Uncommon Time: Again, a characteristic of the genre that can probably be traced back to Slint, who are also called Math Rock for a reason.