VENEZUELA: Días de Septiembre - Días de Septiembre
A perfect blend of post-rock and indie-rock, Días de Septiembre's self-titled record differs greatly from much other latin rock
The genre of post-rock is one that is associated with cold, industrial soundscapes that are harsh on the ear occasionally but also can reach absolute sublime beauty when done right. Despite it being a nothingy descriptor – the very premise of the term is problematic as it implies that the music has superseded or overtaken rock, neither of which is true, and nor does it give you a sense of what the music sounds like – and indeed some of the bands I’m about to mention outright reject the label, but nonetheless, while textural experimental rock might be the better descriptor, post-rock is the terminology we’ve got for now, and Scotland’s Mogwai, Iceland’s Sigur Rós, and Denmark’s Under Byen all provide great examples of this in their discography, where they manage to create harmony out of dissonance, uplifting and meaningful art out of seemingly gloomy music. Indie rock is often rather different, usually lacking that serious edge that many post-rock bands have. Catchy riffs and choruses, lyrics about life, love, and angst are the order of the day there. Venezuelan band Días de Septiembre seem to pitch themselves somewhere between those two styles. Taking inspiration as much from grunge bands like Pearl Jam and Nirvana as they do from indie darlings the Strokes and the Killers, there’s also a healthy dollop of the kind of rock experimentation that became the 1990’s phenomena of post-rock.
“Días de Septiembre is an album that I find more interesting than I necessarily enjoy, but it is nonetheless an entertaining listen.”
Their song Lego is a great example of this interesting mashup. The opening riff and soaring backing vocals is very much in the vein of those indie rockers, but the backing guitars are crunchy and heavy, and when combined, it creates something in the musical texture that is, for want of a better word, post-rock. And yet, they never lose sight of keeping it mostly mainstream and palatable. There’s no radical flourishes here, like Under Byen’s decision to not use guitars, but it still manages to walk that unusual line of achieving post-rock texture, while maintaining an indie sensibility. Crissis en el Cielo is another good example of this, and it’s a fascinating song in many ways, as it is effectively two songs stuck together, with the first half being melodic indie, and the latter half being a noisy, thrashy experiment in sound and texture, and it’s oddly all the more successful for it. It is clear that Días de Septiembre understand both facets of the music and can combine them successfully, to unusual but engaging results. The album is also mostly instrumental, and I would say most of their best songs including the two I have mentioned are instrumental. They manage to create soundscapes that work to convey some of the apocalypticism and ethereality of much music that is ascribed the post-rock label. That said, Feliz, a song with vocals, is a perfectly charming folk rock tune, and it’s a nice break from the heavier music earlier on.
Días de Septiembre is an album that I find more interesting than I necessarily enjoy, but it is nonetheless an entertaining listen. The mixture of indie rock and post-rock is a novel one, certainly not something I have come across before in this particular way. There’s also a bit of playfulness about the album too, it’s not all serious guitar rock. The acoustic version of Lego that ends the album is a really nice palate cleanser, and the upbeat, jingly nature of the acoustic version shows how much texture means to a song. It is also worth mentioning that, when compared to a lot of Latin-American rock music it is extremely different. I can’t hear much influence from titans such as Soda Stereo, Charly García, or Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, and it doesn’t seem to fit in with much of the rock from Latin America, which has traditionally taken a strong ska influence. In that regard, it stands out from the crowd as something different, and that is always to be commended.