One night I was flipping channels on TV and came across someone interviewing shred-guitar hero Joe Satriani. Satch was talking about how his music expresses his innermost feelings. At that moment the TV editors cut away to show the guitarist in the middle of one of his instrumental numbers, playing one of his insanely fast solos. I laughed out loud. It sounded like a record playing at the wrong speed or like a CD skipping. Whatever it was, if that represented Satriani’s private emotions, I thought the guy needed serious psychiatric medicine.
I don’t get that feeling from Explosions in the Sky, an instrumental band from Texas that is becoming famous for its emotional music and powerful live shows. Listening to Explosions in the Sky can be scary or sweet or calming or exhilarating, but it’s always musical.
Like Mogwai, to whom the band is often compared, Explosions in the Sky finds most of its power not in Satriani-like technical prowess, but in dynamics, the gradual or sudden shift from quiet to loud and back. But unlike many of their closest peers (some of whom will be playing at this spring’s All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in England, for which Explosions in the Sky is this year’s curator), the Texans don’t pretend to be post-rock. On their website, the band members declare themselves a rock ’n’ roll band. In fact, last year’s All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone sounds like a distillation of some of the most distinctive strains of rock from the past 45 years. I hear touches of the Cocteau Twins and Trail of Dead, the Dirty Three, and even a hint of Dick Dale.
EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY, Soma, Saturday, March 15, 7 p.m. 619-226-7662. $14.