“We Stood Like Kings have taken post-rock to a level we didn’t know existed”, stated Rotation 11 a few years ago. It probably is even more relevant today. Piano-based neoclassical post-rock quartet WE STOOD LIKE KINGS from Brussels played 300 shows in 20 European countries while releasing 5 albums on the German high-standard label Kapitän Platte. From live soundtracks for silent cult movies to new arrangements of classical music works, every project is yet another opportunity for We Stood Like Kings to design new ways of blending their refined, textural, epic and intense music with other art forms. A band in a class of its own.
We Stood Like Kings thrives to become one of the most unique instrumental acts around the globe. Their relentless use of the piano as a leading instrument is a bold achievement in the scene.
– Post-Rock Essentials
POST-ROCK MEETS CULT CINEMA
A reference act in live rock soundtracks to silent cinema, We Stood Like Kings composed new scores for the cult movies Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio, USA 1982), Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (Walther Ruttmann, BERLIN 1927), A Sixth Part of the World (Dziga Vertov, USSR 1926), performing everywhere around Europe in pocket-sized cinemas, rock clubs or prestigious venues like BOZAR in Brussels. Together, these three projects form a vibrant trilogy portraying two fallen empires and a third one that seems to be running headlong towards its own destruction: pre-World War II Germany, Soviet Union, modern day United States symbolizing today's consumerist society.
A perfect eruption of emotion.
“How to watch a film like 'Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis'? It offers us a literal ‘day in the life of’, bringing us into Berlin by train as the sun rises, and following the life of the city as it wakes, goes to work through the morning and into the afternoon, moves from work to play, to sport and dancing and drinking deep into the night. It leaps swiftly from rich to poor, from man to machine and back again, from the grandeur of the city-scape to the sewers beneath, and always movement, movement in every way that can be found. Trains, crowds, spinning wheels and fairground rides, boat races, horse races, dog races, dancing and pounding machines, always we see the dynamism of a city in motion.”
— ALLAN JAMES THOMAS
Conceived as a new soundtrack to Walther Ruttmann’s celebrated avant-garde montage film Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, We Stood Like Kings’ first project BERLIN 1927 premiered in 2012 at the Royal Institute for Theatre, Cinema & Sound in Brussels and was released in 2014 on the German alternative label Kapitän Platte. In five acts depicting one day in Berlin in between both World Wars, the movie takes you on a journey inside a city crawling with energy, “a complex machine which can only work if even the smallest of its parts fits with maximum precision with the others” (Ruttmann). We Stood Like Kings’ music manages to render not only the pounding energy of the capital but also the deeper emotions linked to the dark war that would soon deploy its wings. The release of BERLIN 1927 was followed by a 50-show European tour with highlights at Dunk! festival (Zottegem, Belgium), Murnau Film Festival (Bielefeld, Germany), Theater Aan Zee (Oostende, Belgium), UT Connewitz (Leipzig, Germany).
Masterpiece, incredible, consuming, tumultuous, visceral, and inspiring. How We Stood Like Kings were able to produce such an extraordinary opus is beyond me.
– Echoes And Dust
“The films of Dziga Vertov display a persistent fascination with travel. Movement across vast spaces is perhaps the most recurrent motif in his oeuvre, and the cine-race — a genre developed by Vertov’s group of filmmakers, the Kinoks — stands as an encompassing metaphor for Vertov’s own work. His cinematographic journeys transported viewers to the most remote as well as to the most advanced sites of the Soviet universe, creating a heterogeneous cine-world stretching from the desert to the icy tundra and featuring customs, costumes, and cultural practices unfamiliar to most of his audience.”
— OKSANA SARKISOVA
USSR 1926, a new soundtrack to Dziga Vertov’s forgotten Soviet gem A Sixth Part of the World, was released in 2015. Famous for his masterpiece The Man with a Movie Camera, Vertov stated that “all citizens of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics from 10 to 100 years old must see this work”. However, there’s much more to it than the prima facie manifesto it appears to be: with its original footage of Kirghiz, Samoyeds, Buryats, Mongols, A Sixth Part of the World comes forward as a fantastic anthropological travelogue across the extended territories of the Soviet Union in the 1920’s. We Stood Like Kings delivers a deeply romantic album, whose raw power and emotions mingled with Chopinesque melodies draws the listener in. About 70 performances were given all across Europe, notably at Beat the Silence Festival (Düsseldorf, Germany), p.m.k, (Innsbruck, Austria), Cinemateket (Copenhagen, Denmark), A38 (Budapest, Hungary) and many more.
The highs seem higher and the lows seem lower, as the band discovers new emotional heights and depths. We Stood Like Kings seems set for a long career of accumulating acclaim.
– A Closer Listen
"Koyaanisqatsi attempts to reveal the beauty of the beast! We usually perceive our world, our way of living, as beautiful because there is nothing else to perceive. If one lives in this world, the globalized world of high technology, all one can see is one layer of commodity piled upon another. In our world the 'original' is the proliferation of the standardized. Copies are copies of copies. There seems to be no ability to see beyond, to see that we have encased ourselves in an artificial environment that has remarkably replaced the original, nature itself. Art is free. It stimulates the viewer to insert their own meaning. So, in the sense of art, the meaning of 'Koyaanisqatsi' is whatever you wish to make of it. This is its power."
— GODFREY REGGIO
Hungry for more and deliberately wanting to avoid the beaten path, We Stood Like Kings set off in quest of a third movie and came across Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi from 1982, with an original soundtrack by one of the most acclaimed composers of our time: Philip Glass. But the band was up to the challenge and needed an ambitious goal. We Stood Like Kings delivered a profoundly different soundtrack, shining new light on images that left their mark on countless movies and delving even further into their very own neoclassical/post-rock identity. It premiered in 2017 at the world-renowned BOZAR in Brussels and was performed more than a hundred times, amongst which at Film Festival Vaduz (Liechtenstein), Handelsbeurs (Ghent, Belgium) and Lantarenvenster (Rotterdam, Netherlands). With USA 1982, We Stood Like Kings closes the first chapter of its history.
The new score splits the difference between tension and awe, gracing the film with an amplified tone.
– A Closer Listen
The AWAY 2019 project is the daring meeting between We Stood Like Kings’ music – now refined, textural, then epic and intense: think Pink Floyd, Chopin and Mogwai all mixed-up – and Gints Zilbalodis’ first feature film, an exceptional cinematic effort picturing the journey of a young boy trying to get back home while being followed by a big black monster. On this new album sounding more post-rock than ever, We Stood Like Kings manages to render both the tense and risky atmosphere of the boy’s adventure and the emotional ups-and-downs he goes through on this precarious journey.
POST-ROCK MEETS CLASSICAL MUSIC
Keep going, re-reading these scores with a fresh eye, breathing new life into them, let them vibrate far beyond the severity of traditions. This music is anchored in our genes, but with your art, it becomes "usual", it becomes today's music, with all its magic, enhanced by your contemporary musical language which, for me, opens up an unknown majesty to it.
– a fan
New perspectives unfold as universes meet. In 2020, We Stood Like Kings announced the release of the new CLASSICAL RE:WORKS project based on modern arrangements of classical music works. What would Bach and Beethoven sound like if they lived today with post-rock as their creative outlet? We Stood Like Kings answer that question by reinventing classical music from the Gregorian era to the 20th century. A challenging, innovative and vital step in the journey of a band heading towards the neoclassical side of their musical personality. The 7-track album was released physically and digitally on October 2, 2020 through Kapitän Platte.