Monday, July 21, 2008

Explosions in the Sky - The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place

Explosions in the Sky - The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place
by Lisa Oliver

“Post-rock” is about as descriptive a term as “walking upright.” And like “walking upright,” it’s occasionally far from accurate. Give “post-rock” a wide berth. In the same vein as “angular” or “meta,” “post-rock” serves a paradoxical purpose of inclusion and exclusion. Those in the know can smugly elevate status in their megalomaniac social hierarchy, feeling fine about not relating to the great unwashed masses that are blissfully unaware of the surrounding frowns.

Explosions in the Sky are for listening to when I’m engaged in something else: cleaning the den, snacking, having a phone conversation. It doesn’t require my full attention because it’s as captivating as a white tube sock with a hole in the toe. The hole’s there but I easily multitask beyond it as its nuisance level hums in the background. In fact, that’s a better way to describe it: EITS remind me of my neighbor’s air conditioner. I occasionally notice it, think I’d like one, then think of the expensive, then go back to cleaning, snacking, or whatever myriad bullshit task I’m doing.

Why not just call it what it is? Boring. Okay, it builds. But so does plaque and you don’t see indie folk getting all jacked up about that. Subtle but neither clever nor intricate, and it doesn’t require that much skill to just to pitch up and back down again. They stare at their instruments as if they’re faceting a diamond, but all that concentration is focused on is plunking an E string, and then re-plunking it to follow. If there are layers, it’s hard to tell; for a musical baklava, it lacks in buttery, nutty goodness.

At least Godspeed You! Black Emperor kicks out the jams muthafuckers and Mogwai belies the novelty of watching a foreign movie with no subtitles—you don’t know what’s going on, and it’s kind of pretentious, but you’ll ride along because it’s interesting. I’m not really a huge fan of either Mogwai or GY!BE, but I still hear engagement in what they’re doing.

“Hypnotic,” “elliptical,” and “delicate” are all common descriptors of this stuff, and with the right band I’m hardly an exception. But it takes a far more sophisticated aural palate than mine to use them in a complimentary way with these clowns. To really convey the sublime majesty of sustained frailty over repetition, you need to be really good at minimalism, autistic, or Brian Eno. Explosions in the Sky are none of these things. Explosions in the Sky are the instrumental version of the Ramones, riding their sound until the wheels fall off. Or until everyone forgets they put it on.

Lisa Oliver is a Columbia-educated writer whose work has appeared in The Guardian, Stylus, The Fly UK, Musicweek UK, Yahoo! Music, NME, Publishers Weekly, Domino and People.



Blogger Rob said...

I agree with you. I like explosions in the sky, but they are overrated. I've seen them twice, And they were geat. But this one time in Milwaukee WI, there were these... I wanna describe them as groupies? It really kind of disgusted me. I enjoy EITS as much as the next guy, but I don't wanna blow em' in the green room.

July 21, 2008 at 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Mel said...

Funny, as I was reading I thought, "this piece could really describe any Mogwai album" (bar Young Team). But then I got to the part that (kind of) compliments Mogwai for being interesting, and memories of listening to Come on Die Young came floating back. I swear I remembered one track that consisted of the sounds of a television and static. Most. boring. album. ever. Not interesting.

July 24, 2008 at 9:30 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home