“In some ways ‘post-rock’ is just a continuation of impulses that crop up within the progressive era, and then again with post-punk. Leaving behind rock, taking on outside influences, responding to the cutting edge of black music, etherealizing to the point of losing the rhythmic pulse.”
– Simon Reynolds, Author/Journalist
“I was really into anti-guitar, anti-chops, anti-solos. I just wanted to f*ck it up.”
– David Pajo, Slint
“We never had a discussion about it, just as we never talked about whether there should be vocals. It was just like, ‘okay – let’s try something’. I guess we were just interested in seeing what we could do with the resources we had available.”
– John McEntire, Tortoise, Gastr Del Sol, Bastro
“I remember the first time someone asked about it [post-rock] and I had no idea what they were talking about.”
– Stuart Braithwaite, Mogwai
Over the past twenty-five years post-rock has evolved from a handful of bands challenging the dynamics, timbre and conventional format and concept of rock songwriting, into a scene with a huge international community of both bands and steadfast fans. Not only does post-rock now have its own dedicated festivals such as ArcTanGent but it is also widely used in soundtracks, advertising and has become a broadly accepted genre that attracts new listeners every day.
Despite the genre’s ever growing popularity and the devotion of its audience, post-rock’s origins and history are either largely unspoken of or are recalled in such a way that many of the subtle connections and influences that made post-rock what it is today are left in the dark. ‘Storm Static Sleep’ is the first book that has ever been solely dedicated to telling the full history of the genre’s musical and semantic origin.
In the process of telling this history, author Jack Chuter recalls and interrogates the various bands and influencers that drove others to question the limits of their songwriting, while talking to both the artists that renounced the post-rock label and the journalists and writers that championed it.
In creating ‘Storm Static Sleep’ Chuter has undertaken over thirty first-hand interviews with some of the most influential names in post-rock including the likes of Mogwai, Tortoise, Steve Albini, Mono, Isis, Slint, Sunn O))), This Will Destroy You, Disco Inferno, Piano Magic, Constellation Records as well as writer Simon Reynolds, the main proliferator of the term ‘post-rock’ itself.
Each chapter of the book explores a different stage of post-rock’s development, by looking at the influence and sound of key bands as well as the insight of influential writers of the time. The chapters not only discuss how the bands all fit within the post-rock bracket but they also explore what directed them to this particular style and what they achieved musically in doing so. ‘Storm Static Sleep’ doesn’t just set out to explicate and contextualise the history of post-rock, but to also re-define what post-rock actually is and means to those who were and are directly and inadvertently enveloped by the term.
When discussing what drove him to write the book, Chuter said:
“I’ve loved post-rock since my early teens, yet it’s always troubled me that none of the existing accounts of post-rock history make any sense whatsoever. The internet liberally declares Slint and Talk Talk as the originators of the genre, while quietly glossing over the fact that, sonically, these bands couldn’t be further apart. I wanted to write a book that would lay the groundwork for a strong, consistent understanding of the post-rock narrative.
On one hand, I fear that this book just complicates the matter further. Beyond its common association with large-scale instrumental rock bands such as Explosions In The Sky and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the tendrils of post-rock extend to the most astonishing places. I never expected to be writing about the electro cock rock of Trans Am or the sculpted drones of Main. The fact is this: the story of post-rock is riddled with contradiction and confusion, with the term being frequently abused as a journalistic miscellaneous by those that fail to understand it, reshaping its meaning over time like a Chinese whisper.
While Storm Static Sleep takes the time to plunge into the post-rock that so many people love (Mono, Sigur Rós etc), I was also determined to take those side roads into the neglected and the unknown. The book is both an exposé of post-rock’s identity crisis and a celebration of its nomadic thirst for innovation in rock music. I’m delighted with how it has turned out.”
For many years Jack Chuter has reviewed and commissioned reviews, for various bands that have either been involved or influenced by post-rock, for the likes of Rock-A-Rolla, Zero Tolerance and ATTN:Magazine. Through his years of writing, research and musical exploration, Chuter has compiled the most comprehensive account of post-rock to date. Not only does ‘Storm Static Sleep’ accomplish an incredible feat in telling the story post-rock, but for some it will also completely redefine the genre and scene, as the development of the sound did for many of the bands involved.