I have a deep abiding love for Oxide Tones … Germany’s only Post-Rock record-store and label. Their output is first class and their roster is exemplary. I was, as you may imagine, very excited when I received three releases from them to review.
Post-rock is one of my favourite genres of music – the ebb and flow of slow and fast, light and heavy, really works for me. I love the emphasis placed on dynamic contrast – it really works for me – and these releases really play in this space.
“Direkt Un Die Ecke” is an utterly delightful guitar-orientated instrumental post-rock expression that highlights how the band revels in the ebb and flow of their chosen genre. It is stripped back – certainly in post-rock terms – with only guitars and drums being the evident instrumentation. This isn’t a bad thing by any means – it has an immediacy that may connect with more ’traditional’ rock music enthusiasts. The lack of more ambient and neo-classical themes on this release – themes that post-rock devotees will be familiar with – is largely irrelevant – it is in it’s stripped back rawness that this release excels. That said, it does have moments where the influence of shoegaze becomes apparent – “Parkplatz” has a jaunty, almost dreampop, vibe about it and is a prime example of this kind of delicious introspection.
“Karl Marx Strasse” demonstrates this influence too along with the ebb and flow most people associate with a post-rock instrumental. It does get heavier as the track progresses, which does set the group apart, especially when you consider the powerful riff-tastic track that closes this release – “Berliner”.
All in “Direkt Un Die Ecke” is a delightful excursion into instrumental post-rock landscapes and one that is worthy of consideration if that’s your cup of tea.
Next up we have the mighty This Patch Of Sky with their five-track EP “Newly Risen, How Brightly You Shine”. This EP features some truly exceptional post-rock soundscapes and incorporates more ambient sounds into their deliciously heady mix. They even feature the glockenspiel which is, for some, *the* essential post-rock sound.
The opening track – “A Light In The Attic” – is a real belter of a track. It builds in a truly euphoric manner with various instruments joining this build up before the whole track climaxes with guitars and barely audible screens, delivering the anticipated uplift nicely, before demonstrating some well executed contrast at the end. It is a magnificent roller-coaster of a track and a real highlight.
“How He Loves // To Sink A Ship” is a well suited second track that really builds the listener’s experience with some engaging contrast, delightful percussive moments and some truly divine soaring guitar. It is tracks like this that really make the EP shine and stand out … although, to be fair, the whole EP is exemplary.
The title track – “Newly Risen, How Brightly You Shine” – is another truly magnificent track, one that is built on contrast and the effective use of sound – from moments of quiet to moments of bombastic glory… with the irrepressible glockenspiel playing a major part in both opposites. If I were asked to describe “post-rock” I would point the requestor to this track (and this EP).
The remaining tracks – “Cities Beneath” and “With Morning Comes Hope” – are similarly expressive and really add to the synergistic ’whole’ of this release. At 31 minutes, this EP packs a punch. This Patch Of Sky have really made something special here and I would heartily recommend it. As I would the third and final release in this review: “Pioneers of Spaceflight” by Late Night Venture.
The contrast is there on this record too with tracks such as the opener – “Kaleidoscopes” – demonstrating such power and grace with moments of quiet as well as moments that build to some immense sounds.
“Peripherals”, the second track, is quintessentially a post-rock track with a field recording of children at play underpinning some deliciously melancholic guitar. Simply put: it is beautiful… but when it gathers volume and really let’s go, it is breathtaking. A set closer if ever I’ve heard one – you would leave content after a gig if they closed with that track. You can almost imagine them saying “thank you and good night” after the 5-minute track comes to a close.
What helps “Pioneers of Spaceflight” by Late Night Venture to stand out is the tracks that have vocals. “Pioneers of Spaceflight” is not solely an instrumental album with tracks such as “Houses” being ridiculously jaunty and upbeat in a truly singalong manner – I am surprised I haven’t be caught out singing along on my train or in the coffeehouses I frequent.
“Houses” also has some lovely synth work on it that reminds me of the mighty Keigo Oyamada aka Cornelius. In fact, I was reminded of Cornelius’ jaunty playfulness on this track.
Other tracks that stand out on this sterling recording include “Birmingham” which has a good dose of the glockenspiel in action, complementing some loud guitars and shoegazing moments. I would be loathed to call this track out as my favourite because there are so many great moments in the 58 minutes of “Pioneers of Spaceflight”.
Other moments include “The Empty Forest” which includes some simple yet evocative vocals and a really driving beat. It’s the kind of track that would fit nicely on a film soundtrack – it definitely has a cinematic quality about it… especially when the guitarist goes all ’The Edge’ about 2 minutes in. It is spellbinding.
“Hours” with its breathless ambience is another track to hone in on – one that is heartbreakingly elegant and rather sensuous … must be all that breathy vocals and downbeat melancholic guitar. Another beautiful track on what is a decidedly first class release – one that will keep my attention in the days to come.
I would highly recommend all three releases and would encourage you to support both independent artists and labels / stores such as Oxide Tones. We need more music like this or at least I do. And when you consider the likes of HMV and FOPP going into administration in the UK, it is vitally important that we do all we can to nurture grass-roots independent talent. If we don’t do it, who will?
“Direkt Um Die Ecke” by Wir Sind Nicht Die Welt – 7/10
“Newly Risen, How Brightly You Shine” by This Patch Of Sky – 8/10
“Pioneers of Spaceflight” by Late Night Venture – 8/10