Post-rock has never garnered much mainstream appeal, which is a shame, since there's something beautifully simple about pushing the boundaries of key signatures, bar chords and the ever humdrum 4/4 rock beat. Stripping a song of lyrics and vocals puts a heavy emphasis on pure, uncensored instrumentation. And the result? The orphaned child of metal and the second-cousin of math rock.
Unlike many other post-rock bands, however, Seattle's X SUNS has created an album centered around tranquility and harmonics, as opposed to simply speed. The opening track from s/t, "In Irons," starts slow and unnoticeably crescendos into a mesmerizing chorus of cymbals, rolling toms and resonating guitars before falling away again to a steady hi-hat and some additional fills. The whole album progresses this way, floating between minor-breakdowns and melodic riffs.
"Lion Cave," the closing track and my personal favorite off the album, seems to hit the breakdown early-on and never lets go, with rolling, rolling, rolling drums and uplifting guitar singing back-and-forth in a conversational manner. There's one principal beat, a single repeating melody, but an infinite amount of layers upon layers. s/t as a whole plays as if each and every single note was placed with utmost purpose and plan, which I admire.
Sure, you wouldn't want to dance to this record, and I'd be the first to say you wouldn't leave it in your car indefinitely. It's a niche album, filling a niche need. But that need, of breaking walls and simply floating in your head as you absorb the aural picture created by dazzling guitar and sensational backbeats, is worth every penny.
Plus, if you've never seen a post-rock show live, you don't know what you're missing.