Whoever said that great rock needs lyricism hasn’t listened to Explosions in the Sky. Formed in 1999 in Austin, Texas, the band’s original lineup is comprised of four men: Mark Smith, Michael James, Murat Rayani and Chris Hrasky. They recently added a fifth member to further their purely instrumental, revamped rock genre of which not one lyric is uttered. But how compelling can Explosions’ compositions— the harmony of three guitars and a drum set—really be in an age of technology influenced beats?
Listeners are enticed by emotionally charged song titles that speak to Explosions’ “cinematic’ approach to their music. Songs like “Your Hand In Mine”, “First Breath After A Coma”, “Remember Me As A Time Of Day” provide the emotional and audio construct for the listener. And the band did not put out an accompanying music video until 2013.
Their thought process behind this decision? Drummer Chris Hrasky explained that Explosions in the Sky “avoided videos for years and years and I think a lot of the reason was because we liked the idea of people creating videos or music in their heads” in an interview with the Huffington Post regarding the band’s first music video.
Resisting the invasion of technology and media, Explosions’ first music video was for their song, “Postcards from 1952”. It is 7:06 minutes and surpasses the music video genre and falls into the short film category. It is meant to represent a home video by catching the family of characters’ aging and evolution in slow motion. The music video’s approach does not seem as surprising when one discovers that the bands non-Texas member, Hrasky, was an Austin transplant in attempts to fulfill a graduate degree in film at UT Austin. This dream, though cut short by the band’s success, has been lived out in another way.
Explosions in the Sky seems to be the top pick for television and movie soundtracks, most notably the television drama “Friday Night Lights”, box office hit “Lone Survivor,” and indie films “Prince Avalanche” and “Manglehorn.” Explosions’ latest EP is the soundtrack for “Manglehorn”, which was released on June 19th. Until the dual release of “Manglehorn” and it’s soundtrack, Explosions’ hadn’t released a full EP since 2011.
It is ironic that a band who has managed to keep technology manufactured sounds out of their music has found their niche in the film soundtrack industry which is overwhelmed by mainstream music and tech compilations. It’s possible this fate was predetermined because of Hrasky’s history with film. Either way, Explosions in the Sky streamed through speakers or headphones takes listeners’ into the recesses of their own minds where the band’s’ pure, instrumental harmonies are a catalyst to explore unresolved emotions, memories or nostalgia.