December 18, 2012

WORLD WITHOUT WORDS: Notes on Filipino Post-Rock

One of the biggest revelations unfurled this year involved the sudden emergence of post-rock bands, those cosmic experimentalists that care more about sculpting moods and feelings rather than make any grand gesture of emotional fleeting using words. Suddenly, everybody wants to join the bandwagon and take full advantage of the trend, but only few bands grounded in such sonic mold, have the tenacity to sound forward-thinking and distinct, bending conventional song structures into murmurs of lost space.

Encounters with a Yeti introduced the cold, drifting sound of post-rock inspired by movie scores and abstract expressionism, mastering the art form with their spectacular display of skill and subtlety. They were the first ones in the country to tackle the genre on a more accessible level, eventually landing them a record deal with indie label, Terno Recordings. EWAY’s debut record Pilot was released this year, an album “constructed around a cinematic canvass that’s thoroughly unique even without words to paint them.” It was a well-received work often compared to Mogwai’s Young Team or Explosions In The Sky’s Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, but above all, it set the sky-high record for every local post-rock bands to follow and break, nurturing an altitude of creativity unseen in most subgenres that have emerged long before post-rock made an explosive turn early this year.

Bands like Earthmover and Tide/Edit followed suit, in a few months’ time becoming a fixture in the local gig scene due to their compelling and confident take on the genre. But unlike Encounters with a Yeti, both bands are more aggressive and intense in their inception of the aesthetic, putting more emphasis on the “rock” than the “post.” A cross between Isis and Pelican, Earthmover’s First Sighting was released early this year few months before Pilot debuted via Terno Recordings. It’s a completely different breed of post-rock that "embraced the ferocious intensity of modern rock music," combining calculated mayhem with hypnotic soundscapes. Tide/Edit’s Ideas on the other hand, pedals with unexplained warmth that pushes farther than you thought it could go, borrowing its style from summery indie rock records of the naughties.

Two new promising post-rock acts also bear the imprint of the spatial spectacle harnessed by the above mentioned bands, only leaning towards a more ambient, glacial direction. Love Never Dies, the symphonic/ambient rock duo composed of Karlo Cleto and RJ Gomez, maps out celestial beauty by way of orchestral amber and noise. Their new EP, Ascension which you can download here for free, channels Caspian and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, but on lighter, more hypnotic numbers such as “Final Ascent” and “Big News,” they aim for something infinite as the blue sky, rather than exploring mere juxtapositions of silence and fury.

Dave Go’s solo post-rock project, Signs of Light in the Atmosphere provides a swirl of calm in today’s maelstrom, carrying as much emotional depth as the quiet moments seeping in its build and ruins. While others attempt to search profundity in futurism, Dave opts to mine neo-classical influences ala Phillip Glass, with sparse keyboard arrangements more upfront as it wanders from one abstract piece to the other. His debut album, I’ll Forget About Stars For Awhile is now available for download here.

Encounters With A Yeti, Earthmover, Tide/Edit, Love Never Dies and Signs of Light in the Atmosphere led the homegrown pact of what seems to pass off as “post-rock” these days. Despite harboring disparate approaches, these bands have one thing in common: they’re all drawn to this universe where soundscapes shape up into a flurry of emotions, united by the challenges of exhausting new sonic possibilities at the expense of a wordless world.


  1. Hi there. I kind of stumbled upon your blog by accident, but I'm glad I did because you're doing some really great work here. I'm enjoying discovering great local artists simply by backreading a bit, and I'm especially thankful for this post-rock entry since I'm quite a fan of the genre.

    In line with that - and here's the sort of self serving part - maybe you could check out a record I made a while back:

    It's mostly foreigners who have heard it since I put it out there a year and a half ago. I guess I just wanted to share it locally. Anyway, feel free to listen and comment if you want. Thanks ;)

  2. lokal rock band that post!
    Tom story:

  3. Yeah a fan here... its nice that we some bands of this kind of genre...



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