Download: Mixtape: The Adventurous Sounds of Bay Area Post-Rock (Podcast #392)

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The post first ran on KQED.org.

Despite the festival-headlining status of Explosions in the Sky, the resurgent Godspeed! You Black Emperor, and the lengthy careers of bands like Mogwai, it often feels like post-rock doesn’t get its due. Perhaps it’s the genre’s terrible name, although is it any worse than “shoegaze”? Or maybe it’s a perception that mostly-instrumental, composition-focused rock music sounds more like a novelty than fertile terrain for bands to explore.

As this mixtape indicates, though, that perception couldn’t be further from the truth. Locally, there’s a wide range of emerging groups crafting music that exemplifies post-rock at its best, tracks that are dynamic, melodic, complex, and emotive. That last element is perhaps the most key: Unlike the more noodling, navel-gazing technicality of progressive rock, the songs you’ll hear in this mix, from exciting young bands like Unconditional Arms and Wander, create real feeling.

Equally impressive is the range of sounds included here. Impuritan binds its post-rock to adventurous psych and noise elements. A violin plays a key role in our lead-off track from Commissure, while a saxophone guides the contribution from Skyscraper Mori. On the post-metal front, Oakland’s Solip offers a doom-influenced, very heavy track.

Finally, it’s also notable that this mix is truly a Bay Area sampler, with bands representing San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose. We don’t typically see that many SJ bands in these mixtapes, so the presence of multiple San Jose artists — In Lights, Even Gods Can Die, and Covet (whose members hail from Oakland and San Jose) — is a noteworthy and welcome surprise.

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Track Listing

Commissure – “Sourmander.”
Unconditional Arms – “Fever Basin”
Wander – “Soar”
Solip – “I: Erasure”
Covet – “Hydra”
Impuritan – “Faux Medusa”
In Lights – “Spring”
Isles – “Contrails”
Skyscraper Mori – “Jungle”
Even Gods Can Die – “Tragedy and Triumph”