Review Summary: A lovely listening experience.
There’s a pub at the corner of the globe. In it, music meets. None plays from the giant, spider-black speakers, but the room is loud with the lift and swing of intoxicated chatter. They come for a reason. The beer is cheap, the food is hot, and the pool cues are still crowned with their soft blue tips.
There are no enemies in this place. Patrons group together in the hives you know - metal, hip-hop, indie, rock - but most individuals are happiest waltzing from group to group, slapping backs, telling jokes, borrowing cigarettes. These socialites fuel the expansion of the pub, espousing new ideas and encouraging the arrival of new patrons through the big red door which shields the ocean roar behind.
Twenty or so years ago (time being a difficult measure in a room without clocks), one surge of new patrons created a movement. Inspired by the tall tales of Talk Talk and Slint, two outliers of the experimental rock sub-hive, customers began arriving from every crevice on the planet, eager to talk Talk Talk and offer their own interpretation of whatever it was that they were interpreting.
Soon, there were enough new customers to create their own hive, a sub-hive, a loosely arranged circle that flitted cautiously, then confidently, around the edges of rock, classical, indie, and ambient. They were eager to soak up the wisdom of those sucking whiskey at the bar, and listened attentively to the odd haircuts who buzzed from group to group, amassing stories and spare change.
They were bought drinks and bought drinks; the rounds flowed fast and the air was warm with skin and beer breath. They became popular. Their collected influence gave them a halo of cultured intelligence; their faces unworn and unfamiliar made them appear fresh. Under the guise of the new, even some of their misguided ideas were exalted. This was their time.
Time passed. The pack was shuffled. Things are different now.
The patrons of what we now know as post rock never left. Of course they heard the tales from 'the outside' of their disappearance, their fall from grace, their own deaths. Whilst this brought a smile to their usually sombre faces, for they knew the absurdity of the claims, they couldn’t deny that it irked them somewhat. They knew the spotlight had long-since shifted, and this was a reminder of their mortality.
Tonight, in their corner by the book shelf and the low-lit burnt sienna photographs, nursing their obscure ales, they look around. They do not get up to socialize, but take an evening to watch the night unfold. They see that many who had arrived before them no longer come here. These burnouts had passed through the door and into the ocean, most (but not all) never to return.
They also see that those who were once hailed as the pub’s sole saviours, partiers-in-chief, next big thing or otherwise, have settled into cubby holes of their own. Some nights these older patrons seem down-on-their-luck, reflecting on former glory, aware of the talk outside that has filtered through the walls of their embarrassment to the pub, their past-it personalities. Most nights, though, they ignore the scalps of vultures and are content to exist and collaborate amongst such an explosion of colour and culture and character.
Every genre settles into this state. After a surge of popularity, the dust settles and what’s left is not a laughing stock, but a reality barely worth mentioning. There are good bands, there are band bands. There are good albums, there are bad albums. If you can’t find the good stuff in post rock, you're not looking past the Pitchfork patina. You're not stepping into the pub’s dark corners.
Dorena is one of the good bands, and Nuet
is one of the good albums. It builds on post rock’s foundations but doesn’t sink them by standing still too long. There’s a quiet-loud dynamic apparent, but more attention will be given to how lovely the listening experience is. The layers are rich and carefully structured; the melodies fun and uplifting; the warmth of the album strangely addictive, like a lover's hand on the cheek. Surprises pop up here and there; always smart, always interesting, and always welcome (the one on 'My Childhood Friend' is terrific). Above all, there is pride in the post rock. It’s obvious, it's brave, and it adds an important dimension to the album: one of love in the labour.
There’s a start. Now go find more, before they all disappear.