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  Bella Union  
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Today i am reviewing Post-Rock albums. In order, the reviews are:

  1. Gwei-lo by Gwei-lo
  2. Spine and Sensory by Tristeza
  3. Goodbye Enemy Airship The Landord Is Dead by Do Make Say Think

It might make sense to read these in order. Or not. You choose!


You gotta feel sorry for Gwei-lo: here they are, four young lads riding high on the tide of the resurgence of instrumental rock music, drawing the attention of Simon Raymonde and his Bella Union label, recording an album, and then, while playing their first gig, the lead guitarist keels over dead on the spot from one of those wierd, congenital defects that no doctor would ever find unless they were specifically looking for it. So much effort, preparation, anticipation, and then extreme sorrow and disappointment.

We should all feel disappointed, since Gwei-lo showed tremendous potential. There are some moments of sheer brilliance on this CD. Rarely does that brilliance carry through an entire song, but it's still there. Given time, they might have made some wonderful music.

But enough mourning lost opportunities. Let's consider the reality of this one testament that Gwei-lo leave us.

It is the first release in Bella Union's "Series Seven", which is scheduled to be seven albums of seven tracks each of instrumental music. An interesting gimmick i guess.

As i said earlier, Gwei-lo are riding high on the tide of instrumental rock music currently so trendy with the kids these days. You know, the stuff popularized by bands such as Mogwai and Godspeed You Black Emperor! (NOTE: samples do not count as vocals). In other words, Post-Rock, or, what i am reviewing today.

I mentioned that i think the two big Post-Rock bands are Mogwai and Godspeed You Black Emperor! (For now, just accept that.) So if those two bands are the "founders", then each traces a certain line of descendents in the Post-Rock Family Tree. In the case of Gwei-lo, this line goes from Mogwai to Ganger to Gwei-lo. That is to say, Gwei-lo remind me a lot of Ganger, who, when you get down to it, are reminiscent of Mogwai. That is to say, guitars played in complicated rhythms with alternating sections of light melodic arpeggio and extreme noisy distortion. Oh, and a lack of vocals.

Now, with Mogwai the lack of vocals was natural - they were doing things with melody that just seemed to imply that singing would get in the way. With Ganger it seemed a little odd -- like maybe some of the songs should have had vocals but didn't, and for the most part it was okay. Well, with Gwei-lo there are times when i really kinda wish that there was light half-muttered words layered over top of the guitarwork. It would just make the songs more interesting. However, well, i get the feeling that Gwei-lo would not do this because it "breaks genre". Whatever.

So there you go. This album is very typical of it's genre, that being Mogwai-derived Post-rock. There are moments when things sound great, and moments where things sound like they could be improved. If you are a big fan of the genre you will find enjoyment in this CD. For everyone else it makes good background noise.

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  Move on to Part 2 of this Three Part Review.  

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