Post-rock. A term that often represents identikit ‘serious’ music made by people with furrowed brows. There are a few titans of the genre – Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky for example – that in many ways are responsible for a slew of bands producing music that is, let’s be honest, a little dull. It is for this reason I was only half listening to the new album by Líam, MMIX, on a grey Tuesday morning rush hour train, expecting a bit of blandness to take my mind off the monotonous journey.
There’s not much written about Líam, but what can be determined is that they are a) German, b) MMiX is their second album, produced in 2009 but released in 2012 and c) they appear to be rudely young. With an album title like MMIX you could be forgiven for thinking Líam has produced a tribute to Killing Joke’s MMXII. But the differences couldn’t be sharper. A mooch around various blogspots sees Liam categorised variously as Post Rock, Ambient, Post Metal, Shoegaze and (lord forbid!) Blackgaze.
With these sorts of descriptors you know exactly what to expect, Quiet intros. Loud crescendos. No vocals. And tracks that last 10 minutes plus. Titles follow the album convention and are simply Roman numerals (I, II, III…) – a refreshing change from the “And-The-Light-From-Uranus-Shall-Illuminate-The Heavens”-style pretentiousness adopted by so many other post-rock bands. But what is particularly surprising about MMIX is it is good. Really good.
Music of distinction makes you take notice, even when you are not ‘listening’. And this is what Líam’s latest does. It creeps up on you. Lulls you into a false sense of security with lush instrumentation and then all of a sudden you realise you are listening. Properly, ears-wide-open listening. Sure, there is nothing ground-breaking about what Líam does. But what they do, they do very well indeed. Nearest comparators maybe a clearer sounding Alcest with a Teutonic rather than Gallic twinge. But the comparisons are irrelevant.
It’s the sounds washing over you that are important. This is big music, full of bombast, shock and awe. It’s music that puts you in a different mood, a different temporal space. It changes your outlook, makes you feel something. Makes you feel good. And on a grey, wet Tuesday morning anything that makes you feel good can’t be a bad thing.
Posted: Tue 24 April 2012