1999: Rachel’s - “A French Galleasse” @2:50

At 2:50, or thereabouts, Selenography’s opener “A French Galleasse” lists to the side, lurching from a complex 7/8 into another even more confounding time signature. A ‘Galleasse’ is defined as “a three-masted lateen-rigged galley used as a warship in the Mediterranean from the 15th to the 18th centuries.” Unfortunately another brief google search could not supply me with a ‘watertight’ explanation to back up my theory that post-rock is ‘awash’ with maritime metaphors, so I was left with a couple of pretentious post-rock band names (“The Sea and the Cake,” “The Shipping News,” “Unwed Sailor”) and an epic Slint song (“Good Morning Captain”) which alludes to the tale of The Ancient Mariner. And this gorgeous, slightly overwrought instrumental, buoyed up on some sort of Aegean swell issuing from long ago Mediterranean merchant ship wrecks… Or something like that.

Music that essays on French ship-building style and the Greek goddess of the Harvest (“On Demeter”) seems to demand some waxing poetical. But “A French Galleasse” succeeds – like all good pieces of music – on two levels: unabashed atmospherics of the former description, and that unsettling, bold stroke that’s needed to shift a song up a few gears into the realm of ‘Aaaah.’ Some people I once knew used to call this phenomenon “the change.” It was an un-technical observation that was made in a state of pure, blissful, appreciation by folks who in the ordinary way would compete to make nerdy remarks about turgid prog-metal songs. It was the nerd’s expression of cosmic (possibly stoned) contentment — occasioned by the appreciation of surprising, ingenious twists in a piece of music. It was actually the opposite of an intellectual reaction, though prompted by the appreciation of complex dynamics.

It’s not clear how elegant chamber music like Rachel’s’ managed to pass itself off as ‘post-rock’, despite its obvious credentials – releasing records on Quarterstick, recruiting members of Shellac – but the fact that it did was fortunate for indie fans. Instrumental music in this vein was held in vague awe because it used dynamics to make its point, not references or lyrics. One of the coolest developments at 2:50 in “A French Galleasse” is simply a minor to major shift, involving cello harmonies and a new lilting time signature. What is it about that which is so surprising in itself? Nothing except that it established a momentum using classical indicators of mood (tempo, tonic shifts), not just references to other music. I suppose that in that sense alone, instrumental music must have seemed quite free of constraints — in a way unmoored and emotionally appealing. Hence all those seafaring metaphors. To my ear “A French Galleasse” just sounds like a class tune.


There’s a lot of good music out there, and it’s not all being released this year. With DeLorean, we aim to rediscover overlooked artists and genres, to listen to music historically and contextually, to underscore the fluidity of music. While we will cover reissues here, our focus will be on music that’s not being pushed by a PR firm.

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