erasing clouds

godspeed you black emperor!, lift your skinny fists like antennas to heaven! (Kranky)

reviewed by Ian Kirkaldy

It is so much easier to criticize than to praise. Criticism is fun. This record is not fun and it is probably the best and most encouraging album I've heard all year.

This is the fourth and most potent release from the entirely instrumental Canadian nine piece; it is unleashed against a backdrop of empty electoral promises and a heightening awareness that the machine is failing, and we are all knee deep in dark waters. Formed in Montreal eight years ago and then slowly evolving into its present incarnation godspeed you black emperor has at its disposal: guitarists (3), bassists (2), cello, violin, percussion (2) enabling them to let loose audio compositions of striking clarity and versatility. Field recordings and tape loops are often used as devices to propel the emotive power of their sensory aesthetic. Godspeed you black emperor's music exists as their manifesto, a soundtrack to falling airships and the crystalline beauty in futile protest. They stand for grand designs on the back of bar napkins; and for hastily drawn plans carefully whispered and hopeful of what music can lead to and what it can result in.

Previously available recorded material F#A# infinity and Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada have both mined rich veins of sonic discharge alternately elegiac and ferocious. This is their long- anticipated double disc release; an eighty-seven minute long program strung out over twenty separate movements. The titles articulately correspond to the nature of the tracks themselves "Terrible Canyons Of Static," "Gathering Storm," " …The Buildings They Are Sleeping Now."

The nine piece coax atmospherics designed to melt away with an agonizing melancholy, only to be painstakingly rebuilt as they hike a steady incline into sulphurous explosions of fury all damaged and glorious. Variants of this effortless rise and fall method inhabit the complete recording and yet never succumb to cliché. This musical approach begs accusations of a repetitive formulaic structure; it would indeed be true if it were not for the abilities of the participating musicians to manipulate their own sounds into varied and yet distinct parts of the whole. The end result is a heady concoction designed to enter your mind on the right side and to reinstate your faith in what you desperately try to hold dear. That music is the messenger for what you need, when you need it. Godspeed You Black Emperor bring you hope.

Issue 4, January 2001 | next article

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