Godspeed You! Black Emporer – and what the hell is post-rock, anyway?


I’ve been spouting rubbish about music now for 17 years, and in that time I like to think I got a pretty decent handle on what most genres sound like. However, there’s one thing that continues to flummox me, and that’s the difference between “post-rock” and “math rock”.

I managed to annoy someone earlier by describing Foetus as “math rock”, because I mentally categorise the newer stuff along with Battles, who are listed in Wikipedia under the heading “math rock”. Post-Cardiacs progressive rock with a healthy dose of bombast and an equally healthy disregard for regular song structures. I’m reliably informed that the difference between math rock and post-rock is that Battles are math rock and Godspeed You! Black Emporer (who I was hearing for the first time just now) are post-rock.

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Battles – Mirrored

OK, I’m late to the party for Battles, aren’t I? Thanks, Yvette, for pointing them out to me.

Him Indoors: “What’s ‘math rock’, then?”

Me: “It’s that thing I call things when I can’t be bothered to say that it sounds a bit like Cardiacs, Sparks, and other bands that get a bit bored if they stick to a 4/4 time signature for more than twenty seconds.”

This track reminds me of Barrett-era Pink Floyd – the better, catchier stuff.



“Scratch that: it’s just progressive indie.”

(*reaches for credit card* … OK, then, Amazon. You and I are gonna do a little business.)



[EDIT]: Having now listened to the album: it’s Cardiacs-meets-Pram-meets-Barrett-era-Floyd. One listen of Mirrrored answers my own question of “what is ‘math rock’?”

It’s the term reviewers use when they just don’t know what the f*** is going on. Sometimes ignorance, like this album, is bliss.