GANGER'S 1998 RELEASE Hammock Style was the first album I heard described as "post rock," the term applied to and despised by bands like Ganger, Mogwai, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Low, and Tortoise. Ask any of them about post rock and they'll tell you: It's a stupid genre name made up by journalists too lazy and vague to describe the music. In defense of the term, if you've heard any of the bands included in this so-called scene, you'll understand that post rock was coined for bands that use traditional rock band elements like an orchestral movement. It's shorthand. "Post rock" tends to follow a pattern: Simple and unassuming at first, it slowly builds until it's compelling, layered, loud, and hard.

Stuart Henderson, who plays bass in Ganger, explains, "The tag 'post rock' has been thrown at us from so many directions now, to the point where apparently we've actually missed the 'post rock party.' If that's the case, then we're quite glad of it -- the term is so overused and vague that it's probably best not to be party to it at all. Our tunes just happen as a matter of course with very little forethought or planning. If an idea sounds good, we keep it -- that's about it, really. Hopefully you enjoy listening to them as much as we enjoy playing them. When that stops, we'll chuck it all in for butterfly farming or urban myth development!"

Double drums, few or no vocals, and string sections distinguish these bands from their roots in Slint and Rodan, but Ganger also takes a lighter touch, managing to feel a little like... maybe... Velocity Girl?

Their new release, the Canopy EP (Merge), takes that lightness even further, which is a little odd given the turbulence of the band's recent months. Craig B, the guitarist from Hammock Style, left Ganger to devote himself to his other band, a singer/songwriter outfit called Aereogramme. This is Ganger's first tour in America with new guitarist Chris Bathgate (from Edinburgh's Coney Island Cyclone).

The Stranger spoke to bassist Natasha Noramly about the EP and upcoming tour. Although Noramly is the most prominent woman in that post rock scene, she is very down to earth: She moans that her day job sucks, it takes precious time away from the band; she likes electronica; she hates heavy metal. She reads the music magazines and worries that tourmates Mogwai are courting disaster by feuding with Blur. She looks forward to the tour but frets that tour bus tensions will erupt because the bands favor opposing football teams.

Of the EP, Noramly says, "It's kind of a weird one, actually. It's very different. To be totally honest here, I've got mixed feelings about it. And I can explain why it's different from Hammock Style. One of the reasons is that Craig left the band for his other band. So ["State Conversion" and "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants"] were the last two songs that he had done with us.. Those two songs kind of stick together as [definitive] Ganger. I feel that those two belong to each other.

"And then there's 'Canopy,' which is a bit of a strange one. Craig doesn't play on it, but there's this guy Nathan Burke on guitar [from hardcore band Frodus], so already there's another person who's not normally in Ganger, and will never be in Ganger, so that's a strange thing. Then Stuart, who plays bass, he's also playing guitar on that. And that's never happened before, so that's new. It was just a totally different feel, although it was recorded at the same time as the rest of the EP. We've only ever played 'Canopy' right through about five times. We always fuck it up. The recorded version was one of the first times we actually managed to play it right through. It took us hours to get that track down.

"Then the other track, 'Now We Have You,' was actually a recording that was made while we were just jamming in the studio. We didn't even know it was being recorded. Our producer was just sitting there and we were getting ready to lay down another track, playing whatever, and he recorded it.

"He put some effects over it and played it back. It was so spontaneous. And we'll never play 'Now We Have You' again. It was just a one-off. But that's what I like about it -- it's really fresh. We don't get that with a lot of our songs. Our songs are really carefully written, and it takes a long time to write them. So when things like that happen, like a spontaneous jam, it's something really precious to us.

"I think it's the kind of CD that grows on you. It grew on me, I know that. And I can guarantee you that the next album is going to sound completely different too. Everything we've written so far has no vocals on it as of yet. Again the rhythmical aspect is still really there, but with more breakdowns -- more melodic, somehow. And we want to do a lot more with double drums. They didn't appear on Hammock Style, but we do use double drumming in all our gigs. So a lot of the songs we recorded sound totally different live. We're going to insist on that from now on."

Support The Stranger