Kurt shares his favorite instrumental music to read and write along with
Artist: Lights & Motion
Length: 1 hour, 7 min
Sounds like: a victory lap in slow motion
When I first heard about Swedish post-rock outfit Lights & Motion, my first thought was “What the hell is post-rock?” Post-rock, it turns out, is when a band uses rock instruments in a way that don’t sound particularly rock-like, which is about as vague a definition as I’ve ever heard for anything. In practice, post-rock albums tend to be reverby, ambient, sweeping, and sans vocals.
If you can imagine a sonic hybrid between Dream Theatre and Angels And Airwaves, then… then you probably didn’t need this as a point of reference.
Christoffer Franzén started Lights & Motion during a fit of insomnia in 2012. The resulting album, Reanimation, was meant to capture the dreamlike state of being—not to put too fine a point on it—an insomniac. The tracks are large, lush, and meandering. Simple, plinking guitar lines are layered over each other, then under strings and synthesizers. The songs loop and build in long drawn-out crescendos that give them a cinematic quality.
This quality is, no doubt, why they keep showing up in commercials and movie trailers. In addition to the crescendos, the songs constantly feel like they’re moving upward tonally. There’s a sense of uplift to this record that is simply inspiring. While none of the melodies are especially sticky, it’s completely emotionally engaging. I couldn’t hum a bar of this album to save my life, but I’ve gone back to it several times because, dammit, it makes me feel better about everything. So, if I may be allowed a brief digression…
I love music because this is what music can do. Human beings could sing long before we could speak; the musicality of emotion is baked into our vocal inflection. I’m re-listening to this album on a computer—compressed mp3 files that were assembled in a studio years ago and half a world away. Everything about this is completely artificial, and yet it’s also completely primal. Using no words at all, a total stranger was able to reach out and stir something in me.
Pretty cool, right?
Pros: Makes you want to go out there and be somebody.
Cons: A bit saccharine, perhaps. Also, the last track has vocals on it. It’s also my least favorite on the album.
Standout Track(s): Drift, Aerials, Victory Rose
Kurt Pankau is a programmer, musician, and storytelling enthusiast. He occasionally blogs at www.kurtpankau.com and often tweets at @kurtpankau. His short fiction has been featured in Quantum Fairy Tales, Daily Science Fiction, and once it even got produced for Wisconsin Public Radio. Fun Fact: He knows the etymological origins of the word “ampersand.”