What is post-rock?

 What is post rock? | postrock | post rockOf late years we hear more and more often about such style as post-rock. Step-by – step it is growing very fast, gaining new fans, penetrating into our life. That is why it is necessary to clarify what is it and what is the site postrockXchange.com devoted to.

What is post-rock?

In the first place post-rock is an absolute freedom in the music, the abandonment of obsolete structures of compositions, the conservative approach to the rock music, annoyed and hackneyed ideas. This style became a gulp of fresh air for all music, because at the beginning of 90s the non topic and death of rock music could be stated. But post-rock could prove that reincarnation was possible even in music. But in spite of this fact its freedom is rather limited. And moreover it is limited by musicians themselves. They have a vast action field and it seems that they can do whatever they want, mix techniques of different styles, create something new, but actually we have very standard groups with unvaried material. To notice it you should listen again and again a lot of material, not necessarily having it on in the background while you are reading about modern fashion, but really listening to it when you are not concentrating on anything else, because inexperienced listener may consider every group to be revelation with its unique style. Just a few of groups could use this freedom. A big amount of them, catching “its sound”, continued to use it in all their releases.

Idealizing, you may say that musicians do not have any hard stylistic frames, there is only a vector according to which the music must be developed. And the starting point of which is a standard rock-set of instruments – bass, percussive, guitar and singing. But this point is very fuzzy, the bulk of impact was stricken to singing –in most cases there is no any. It should be noticed that guitars, used to make tone for all post-rock composition, now do not do it, not attracting any attention. The sound peculiarities are often used, almost all music is based on processors, reboot effects and so on. The structure of composition is also fuzzy –there are no refrains, verses or monotony. The theme may be developed during all composition, reaching the culmination at the end, or reaching it several times or it maybe started from the most bright moment, and then tailed. The guitar and percussive part are constantly changed. Very often they can be cycled. Actually as I told it is impossible to introduce the scheme of post-rock track. Also there are a lot of experiments about different variations of instrument sets. The electronic devises are often met, usage of which gave birth to the most post-rock groups of the second wave. Together with standard instruments the big set of secondary is used, such as violins, piano, trumpets, saxophones. For many groups the usage of these instruments is some kind of peculiarity, from which the rest musical style makes a start.

Generally, very seldom style of post-rock bands coincides with the “clear” sound, which was presented by the groups from the first wave. Very quickly post-rock groups started to use ambient, idm, math-rock, prog-rock, metal and so on. And it lets them to make sound experiments, find something new in the joint of several styles. But actually very often we can see repeats, self-repeats and unoriginality. Nowadays the tendency of post-rock to penetrate into other styles can be seen. But about it later.


 What is post rock? | postrock | post rockAs in any music there are waves in post rock. We deal with two well-defined in sound but fuzzy chronically waves. They are even not waves but directions: post-rock and after post-rock. Of course , one more ”zero” wave can be distinguished, consisting of groups –pioneers, for example Bark Psychosis (actually about their album «Hex» in 1994 the magazine «The Wire» the term “post-rock” was firstly used), Talk Talk, Slint.
But these groups can be firstly considered more as pioneers then style representatives. They opened future musicians’ eyes to what can be done with ordinary music. Actually these experiments were done long time ago, for example Pink Floyd or Frank Zappa at their time.

The first wave

 What is post rock? | postrock | post rockThe group Tortoise was the pioneer of this wave, they are also the transition from the zero wave to the post-rock. They have rather strong ideas and features of post-rock. The fundamental basis is their album of the same name. It can be said that it is the Bible of the style. The second significant group is God speed You Black Emperor! (Godspeed You! Black Emperor later). They made the foundation for ambient post-rock. But like in any legend there should be the third “elephant” on which the Earth is held. And here we should thought it over carefully who it is. There are three candidates: Mogwai, Sigur Rós и Explosions in the Sky. It’s rather difficult to distinguish someone, because their dues to the post-rock development are great. Many groups of the second wave use their ideas. Also such groups as A Silver Mt. Zion (post-project noncomparable of Godspeed, which is absolutely inimitable experiment), Do Make Say Think, Oceansize. The first wave became the fundament for the next development of post-rock, at the same time it did not sink into oblivion. Many groups caught their ideas and began to use them without any changes.

The second wave

 What is post rock? | postrock | post rockAny second wave of any style became a cause for many arguments, disappointments, grief, new finding and bright opening. Impulse, given by the foundation fathers was caught by thousands different young groups, who were looking for their own sound. Some of them, as it has been already told, got it in primordial view, others continued experiments, giving to the world of music very talented albums. At the same time many of them made the sound more simply, returned to indie-rock, alternative-rock and other styles. Many people began to feel enormous number of repetitions and similarity of material its typicality, lack of imaginativeness, new and fresh ideas. It became more difficult to find and pick up something really worth. In general, groups of the second wave were created after 2000-2002 but the biggest part of them - in 2005. Nowadays most of the groups have only one album or ЕР, or simply some demo-versions. Thanks to the Internet it became easier to share the music with listeners (it is exactly what our site does :)). Many groups do not release vinyls or CDs, but put it on the Internet. The site myspace.com became the main “house”, where musicians can give maximum information (but more often rather meager) about their group. There are hundreds of representatives of the second wave, for example , Burn Rome In A Dream, God Is An Astronaut, If These Trees Could Talk, M83, School Of Emotional Engineering , This Will Destroy You, Ulan Bator, Ultraviolet Makes Me Sick, Yndi Halda, Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson, Coala Pascal, I Am Above On The Left, Klever, Silence Kit, Verba and many others.

As it was told earlier we want to pay special attention to such phenomena as fusion with other styles. Such words as post-metal do not surprise anybody. This style can be characterized as post-rock with heavy guitar sounds, more slowly rhyme, gloomy atmosphere, growling or screaming vocal. Or on the other hand it is post-rock sludge, softer, more melodic, “clear”. Everything depends on the beginning of the group, on the sound changes. Very often groups who started to play in one style, using some post-rock techniques later changed the style/moved to this style. For example Neurosis playing post-metal unexpectedly released post-rock album «The Eye Of Every Storm», but in 3 years they came back to their basis. Or Shora, starting as chaotic hardcore group made their last album absolutely post –rock. The very strong influence can be observed in emo-music. It is difficult to judge either it is good or bad. It is better to do it within limits, but these groups often have problems with it.

DIY conception

 What is post rock? | postrock | post rockAlmost all post-rock music follows DIY conception, it means that groups do not have contacts with expensive labels, or producers and managers. They both record and distribute their albums by themselves . Sometimes more successful groups help others, sometimes they form conglomerates for co-operative release, but their music will never become accessible for commerce, because it will deprive them the spirit of freedom – the basic idea of the style.
Also we want to define one more important feature: post-rock is one of the most “subjective” style, that is everyone can see something in compositions special for him, and this opinion changes from person to person. The main thing is not to be obsessed with it and not to stay on one place, to experiment and maybe simple love this music, listen to it, to pass it trough your body, becoming for one moment the part of it.

Post-rock is a new world, world of many colors, and what picture will be painted in your head depends mostly on your perception then on music itself.


  1. October 21st, 2009 at 21:42 | #1

    Interesting article

  2. October 22nd, 2009 at 11:22 | #2

    I liked the picture with audiocassette :)

  3. October 22nd, 2009 at 16:11 | #3

    tnhx ;)

    I also like it :)

  4. October 23rd, 2009 at 19:13 | #4

    Describes the genre better than anything else I’ve ever read.
    Thanks :)

  5. October 25th, 2009 at 18:15 | #5

    Nice article! It helped me a lot!
    I hope that post-rock will never “commit suicide” for commercial breaktrough!!! Post-rock nowadays is sacred music for me.

    Because I’m an self-titled artist, I would like to notice that people who visit this site request me and listen to my music on http://www.myspace.com/lovroi, and tell what they think. My inspiration lay on post-rock and indie.

    Thank you very much and go on!!!

    Greetings from Serbia!

  6. chris
    October 30th, 2009 at 15:17 | #6

    well wrote , post-rock 4 life :)

  7. Stefan R
    Stefan R
    November 27th, 2009 at 20:14 | #7

    Indeed, a good article with plenty of information. Not one line without something to memorize.


  8. andrew
    January 19th, 2010 at 23:43 | #8


    “Post-rock nowadays is sacred music for me”

    My sentiments exactly :)

  9. MrsKazoo
    February 2nd, 2010 at 02:00 | #9

    Great article.
    Keep on post-rockin’!

    Thanks :)

  10. vonthief
    February 16th, 2010 at 02:46 | #10

    interesting article. can’t help but notice you missed out codeine however. it may just be my opinion, but frigid stars and songs like D are definitely a influence in the creation of post rock, if not actually part of the genre itself.

  11. February 23rd, 2010 at 19:35 | #11

    great ;)

  12. Brombie
    April 11th, 2010 at 12:18 | #12

    Just a note. Most post-rockers are fine without any explanation of it. But your effort are appreciated and you’ve managed to cover most non-listeners questions fully.

    Just remember, it depends on us listeners to keep the post-rock alive!

  13. April 24th, 2010 at 19:33 | #13

    Great article… and thanks for sharing this great music… hail to Gregor Samsa!

  14. A_Charismo
    May 15th, 2010 at 18:56 | #14

    You penetrate into me, thnx ^^

  15. Kapa
    May 30th, 2010 at 11:35 | #15

    I found your description of “post-rock” confusing, simplistic and badly written. Mindue, I think it would be nigh on impossible for someone to write an accurate “history” of post-rock. Well not yet…. maybe in 10-20 years… Much like Simon Reynolds did for “post-punk” in his book “Rip it up and start again”.

  16. Antharia
    June 6th, 2010 at 22:52 | #16

    It’s difficult to describe a style which is joined by so many around the world in a few lines. And it’s never too soon to analyse something. But it’s right, post-rock deserves a entire book. I should started defining the term “post”, which induces necessarily a reflection about the style you choose. It’s not the same “post” that in post-modernism for example. It’s not about meta-textual components or this kind of stuff.
    But when the post-rock forms are established, and everyone agree with it (musicians and listeners), when the style is the subject of itself (can we make something new? how can we avoid clichés? etc…) it ’s the beginning of the end… Then it will die to come back to life later like a phoenix ;)

    And our grandsons will say “Hey, my grandpa just gave me a compact disc of mogwai!- A what? - A cd! -What’s a CD????”

  17. Victor
    June 16th, 2010 at 23:19 | #17

    i love post-rock

  18. dPsychc
    June 22nd, 2010 at 00:36 | #18

    You’re doing an awesome job man. Cheers from India.

  19. July 11th, 2010 at 01:52 | #19

    Amen for that my brother

  20. Jacob
    July 19th, 2010 at 18:28 | #20

    Good read. Ex Libras is a post Rock band worth looking into. Keep up the great site

  21. Joseph Reilly
    Joseph Reilly
    November 10th, 2010 at 05:18 | #21

    I’m just glad someone took the time to write it. Sure it could be much more comprehensive, but the sentiment works perfectly. It works like a manifesto. Cheers from New York! Keep it up, this site is amazing.

  22. Ismael NGO
    Ismael NGO
    November 24th, 2010 at 14:14 | #22

    Obrigado por este excelente artigo. Thanks for this great article !

  23. NickV
    January 3rd, 2011 at 21:44 | #23

    I think this is a good article, I personally don’t consider m83 to be post rock as I think they are more shoegaze

  24. pirate
    February 22nd, 2011 at 11:53 | #24

    This is very informative. Thank you.

  25. Apie Pangg
    Apie Pangg
    March 19th, 2011 at 10:41 | #25

    Post-Rock is a greatest music in the world…..

  26. jefftones
    April 10th, 2011 at 06:07 | #26

    post-rock i love it

  27. Cavex
    May 13th, 2011 at 11:25 | #27

    Good Article. Being a frustrated music listener for the last 20 years, Post-Rock is the music I have been waiting for my whole life. I heard glimpses of it in Simple Minds as well - Early SM - Just a bit - I think. And at the time I heard it, I thought it would be an interesting direction to take the music. When I saw SM in concert in 1984 it was a big let down for me because they were just being another “rock” band and were already moving from the short lived New Romantic thing. At the time I wished it was all as “Theme for Great Cities”, “I Travel” and “In Trance as Mission”. Now I Love Post-Rock because the Genie is Out of the Bottle Again there are a lot of places it can go and musical children to spawn. We have all been looking at history through a keyhole and now it is time to open the door, if you don’t have a key break it down.

  28. el_mer
    July 4th, 2011 at 09:39 | #28

    not a word about Japanese and Chinese post-rock scene?

  29. javiera
    August 31st, 2011 at 04:10 | #29

    great post! and great music..who is it ?? the first picture??..jonny greenwood ?? radiohead?..nice pucture..

  30. August 31st, 2011 at 10:41 | #30

    It’s Mono.

  31. javiera
    September 1st, 2011 at 01:16 | #31

    jjajajajajaja now im looking is mono ..jaja is so similar..is strange i like very much mono ..but I never think that..well thank for the answer!!!

  32. David
    September 20th, 2011 at 02:00 | #32

    very interesting I love Post-Rock Brothers

  33. SEB
    October 2nd, 2011 at 22:34 | #33

    Thanx a lot for this beautiful site!!!

  34. bfg666
    November 27th, 2011 at 19:09 | #34

    Huh, what do you know? I’ve always loved the early Simple Minds (up until the “New gold dream” album) but it never occurred to me to associate them with the post-rock scene…

  35. NorrinRadd
    November 29th, 2011 at 07:49 | #35

    Beautiful, man. Post rock is… a state of mind. The kind of music that only my soul can sing.

  36. January 18th, 2012 at 14:03 | #36

    this is too much. i like this !

  37. friendofthenight
    March 6th, 2012 at 16:58 | #37

    I really enjoyed this article and this site is amazing :)

  38. jorge lopes
    jorge lopes
    March 8th, 2012 at 06:29 | #38

    hi there can you post the last of the american dollar? call awake in the city it awesome your my really best site i allways looking for a new things and your radio its fantastic thank you for your exesting go foward hope you listening my began best reguards

  39. Edvard All
    Edvard All
    March 10th, 2012 at 22:20 | #39

    M83 is post- rock now…? The more you know!

  40. marwan
    April 29th, 2012 at 20:09 | #40

    what avout disco inferno?

  41. erebus
    June 20th, 2012 at 07:11 | #41

    You are doing amazing job!DIY!!!Listen to my project called Spleen on http://www.seejoerock.com/erebus

  42. November 16th, 2012 at 19:19 | #42

    i like postrock very much, from last.fm and mp3.li we can find a lot. i am indonesian.

  43. Remembranceofthul
    January 7th, 2013 at 02:21 | #43

    Interesting article, very objectively explained the “idea/concept” of post-rock. As you go through the listening you perceive a new world despite of the human condition we’re so fond of, sometimes the melody’s a soothing for the day. Although the OP was so quick to erroneously label M83 as a post-rock band.

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