Post-rock primer: 5 great albums to get you hooked on instrumental music

Tomorrow sees the start of ArcTanGent – one of the few festivals in the UK dedicated to post-rock, math-rock, noise-rock and generally obscure but mind-bending music – and this has prompted me to finally write a post I’ve been knocking around for months.

Post rock raven

I’ll admit, not all bands that identify themselves as post-rock are strictly instrumental only, but broadly speaking the genre is typified by a reliance on progressive compositions or unexpected dynamic shifts, rather than on clever lyrics and catchy choruses. This can be a turn-off for some, but for others this kind of music is ideal for when you really need to focus and lyrics are a big distraction. So the next time you have to finish an essay, write a report, or even pen a seriously pretentious blog post, pop on one of these magnificent albums (via the orange Spotify links below) and enjoy.

  1. And So I Watch You From Afar – Heirs

Release: 2015
Average track length: 4:19
Key tracks: Run Home, Animal Ghosts
Fun fact: The shortest track on this album, Wasps was recently used as the soundtrack for a Tony Hawk skateboarding video.

  1. 65daysofstatic – We Were Exploding Anyway

Released: 2010
Average track length: 5:34
Key tracks: Mountainhead, Go Complex
Fun fact: After opening for The Cure on their 2008 European Tour, the Sheffield band teamed up with Robert Smith for Come To Me, the only track on this album that features vocals.

  1. Explosions In The Sky – The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place

Released: 2003
Average track length: 9:03
Key tracks: First Breath After Coma, Your Hand In Mine
Fun fact:  The Vitamin String Quartet included an abridged cover version of Your Hand In Mine in their 2010 compilation album The Rock N’ Roll Wedding Collection Vol. 2.

Explosions in the Sky meme

  1. Cougar – Patriot

Release: 2009
Average track length: 4:05
Key tracks: Heavy Into Jeff, Endings
Fun fact: Founded in Wisconsin in 2003, the band decided on their name before it became slang for a middle-aged female sexual predator.

  1. Maybeshewill – I Was Here For A Moment, Then I Was Gone

Release: 2011
Average track length: 4:05
Key tracks: Relative Minors, To The Skies From A Hillside
Fun fact: In a 2008 review, Drowned In Sound described the Leicester quintet as sounding “like Mogwai would if they had ever found love in an arthouse cinema. And then were beaten around the head with a keyboard.”

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