It's usually lame to ask musicians to describe their "sound." It oversimplifies something that they've probably agonized to perfect, and most musicians have an aversion to being labeled at all.
The NW Post-Rock Collective, on the other hand, is a network of several local bands that all identify wholeheartedly with the "post-rock" genre and seem to have no problem standing in solidarity under its umbrella.
But then, that poses another question: How exactly do you describe "post-rock," anyway?
"Traditional rock instruments used to make music that's not traditional rock" is Jordan Householder of Coastlands' definition of the style, which is typically instrumental. "It's more about the music than a conventional band with a singer who's driving it or an ego driving it."
The term is usually ascribed to two different kinds of bands. There's the high-volume, orchestral, melodic branch pioneered by Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Then there's the jazzier, more progressive kind purveyed by the likes of Tortoise. The common characteristic seems to be bare-bones, simplistic melody in its most reductive, melancholic form. Some emphasize the effect of a few notes with volume, others with precise repetition. Many use extended song lengths to heighten the gravitas. Most are instrumental. To put it one way, if post-punk is nihilistic atheism, post-rock is agnostic Buddhism.
Regardless of the specifics, every one of the NW Post-Rock Collective's dozen members passionately embraces the concept as a whole. The group was created with a specific agenda: not only to find other like-minded musicians with similar aesthetics, but also to correct misconceptions and promote an often-misunderstood genre on a local level.
"It's a little avant-garde. It can be a little more challenging to access sometimes," says Dayna Sanders of A Collective Subconscious. "We knew there had to be people out there making this music."
After the creation of a Facebook community through which various musicians and bands could network and promote shows, the group's ambitions grew in proportion with the page's membership. "We're very intentional in terms of pooling resources, label activity, booking shows, cross-promotion, compilation albums, putting out vinyl," Sanders says.
Long Hallways' Joseph Chamberlain says Elephant 6—the psychedelic Athens, Ga., artist collective that thrived in the '90s and produced Neutral Milk Hotel and Olivia Tremor Control—was a key inspiration.
"They put a logo on it," he says. "If someone finds a band, they look at the logo and ask, 'What is this all about?' and from there you discover other music. I wanted the group as a whole to benefit each other. If one person succeeds, everyone comes along a little bit. That's the intention of the collective. America is programmed to identify branding imagery with success. So why not give ourselves that?"
SEE IT: The NW Post-Rock Showcase featuring Coastlands, Long Hallways, A Collective Subconscious, Another Neighbor, Disappeared and Compass & Knife is at Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St., on Thursday, April 28. 7 pm. $7. 21+.