When it comes to post-rock soundtracks, the focus is usually on Explosions in the Sky because their music has been featured in several films while Tides of Man is often overlooked because, well, they haven’t. But just because Tides of Man hasn’t written the soundtrack for a film doesn’t mean they can’t write the soundtrack for your life. And, for a few scenes anyway, they already have.
After a sporting event
In the story of your life, you’re the hero. So once you’ve finished your rec league game at the Y and get into your car, exhausted and embarrassingly sore, you’ll be tempted to do what every movie athlete does after a big loss: Silently consider your failure. Lean into that instinct. And while you’re solemnly reflecting on how you’ve bottomed out and need to have an inspiring character rebuild, you’ll want “All the Years” from 2014’s Young and Courageous playing. It’s simultaneously simple and profound and provides exactly the right type of composure for your sweaty recovery from defeat. (This assumes that you’ve lost whatever sporting event you were competing in because, well, you’re reading a blog about post-rock. Of course you lost.)
As you read the climactic end of an amazing book
Books tend to be a pretty quiet medium what with their being printed words and nothing else. (Get out of here with your audiobooks; that’s a fictional podcast, is what that is.) But if you’re one of those people who get really invested in what you’re reading, then you may want some background noise that suitably amps up the mood as you read about beloved characters saving the world, sacrificing themselves or doing something equally heroic. So when you get to the final chapter of that epic historical drama you’ve been reading (or your pulply sci-fi trash; I’m not here to judge), put “Measure Your Breath” on loop. The finale of Young and Courageous swells into a magnificent crescendo and even when it adds the valuable human touch of vocals, they’re monosyllabic ohs so that no lyrics distract you from the riveting conclusion of your tawdry romance.
When you’re creating something
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Writing is work. But it is also joy. And I think that’s the nature of creative acts, that they are their own challenge and reward, that they require both commitment and inspiration. Ultimately, the act of taking raw materials and turning them into something more than they once were—using your mind or hands or voice to create something where once there was nothing—is truly magical, even if the path to getting there is long and barren and windswept. “Naked Words / Sacred Mouth”, a single that Tides of Man released shortly after their second instrumental record, Every Nothing, captures that duality. It’s a worthy soundtrack to creation of any kind.
In a moment of clarity
There’s a beach in northern Oregon where two massive rock formations sit off the coast. In the evening, the sun reddens as it lowers towards the ocean, eventually sliding beneath the waves and casting a shadow over the rocks and shore. It’s a remarkable place and to stand there watching the sinking sun is to be in a state of wonder, to be made aware that we are small and that all our petty human bullshit is nothing more than the briefest flicker in the universe. It is a place where you can feel clarity.
Professional thinker Tim Urban once described moments of clarity as being those instances when “your brain for a second transcends what it’s been built to do and offers you a brief glimpse into the astonishing truth of our existence.” The kind of experience that makes you feel “some intense combination of awe, elation, sadness, and wonder.” If it’s possible to capture such monumental concepts in song, then Tides of Man have done it with “Outside Ourselves”, a song that cannot be heard without feeling wonder. And if you don’t want that kind of song and that kind of experience in the soundtrack of your life, well, I don’t know what to tell you, friend.