Release Date: Sep 22, 2017
Record label: Constellation
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Post-Rock, Experimental Rock
Nine silhouettes on stage, sitting or standing in a circle around each other while twin film loops produce textures behind them. The loops are mostly black, but bits of white fuzz come in and out of the frame as would a fleeting thought about the death of consumerist culture. Two basses and three guitars join Sophie Trudeau.
Since 1994 Godspeed You! Black Emperor have been ploughing a defiant furrow – a shifting, shadowy collective with a resolutely DIY outlook who have earnt an utterly devoted fanbase without playing by the rules. Interviews? Guest singers? Flirtations with dubstep? Get outta town. What they do hasn’t changed especially since 1997’s debut F#A#∞ – if you’re after utterly huge-sounding orchestral soundscapes that call to mind Morricone attempting to score the apocalypse; fitful bursts of wracked, and quite exquisite, distortion; unexpected pastoral, near-proggy interludes; the gift of knowing how to bring a song to a mindblowing peak that good DJs have; and fragile, minimal comedowns, you’ve got it – often in the same song..
Godspeed You! Black Emperor have always been a political band, it’s just that they’ve never felt the need to express their opinions in the shape of lyrics. Instead, to fully appreciate their intentions, you’d have immerse yourself in the artwork and context of each of their six albums; as a rule of thumb, if the band feel like sharing the context of the album, then that at least serves as some kind of guide. Do their compositions work without full context? To a degree.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor are primarily concerned with two things: destruction and reconstruction, with an emphasis on destruction. Apocalypse found its soundtrack in their five studio albums, but never without the dimmest light piercing its smoky shroud. And once the band reunited after an indefinite hiatus in 2010, older and wearier but still pissed the hell off, their.
The seven-year-long hiatus Godspeed You! Black Emperor went on was a period highlighted by the void they left behind. Having released three albums before, with the exceptional Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven standing out, the band moved into a period of hibernation. The results of this break came to fruition in 2012, with the group’s new album ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!, a record that rivaled the quality of Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven, which needless to say was a herculean task.
It’s always been a notable duality of Godspeed You! Black Emperor that the Montreal collective combine some of the most radical politics in the entertainment industry with virtually instrumental music. Far from neutering their politics, their beautiful, apocalyptic torrents of sound feel more profound for not having their grandeur shackled by the banality of language, for letting the listener imagine meaning..
When this record takes off, as it does on the third parts of "Bosses Hang" and later "Anthem For No State," it really takes off, sending you through hyperspace on enormous blissed-out cosmic waves. Much of the new album by Godspeed You! Black Emperor however is, as the band puts it, "a quiet muttering amplified heavenward." Which is no bad thing. Opening title track, "Undoing a Luciferean Towers," is gorgeous.
The Canadian anti-capitalist post-rockers rage against the machine once more, making a list of demands in the liner notes including “an end to borders” and “the expert fuckers who broke this world never get to speak again”. Their lyric-free music evokes that political chaos – unmoored sheets of symphonic guitars blow through everything, as brass and woodwind howl at each other like red and blue states. But there’s also a kind of hope in the way that these elements eventually cohere around massive melodies, like a New Orleans brass band finding each other in a hurricane.
T he general thesis from which many of today’s artists proceed is “X is wrong with the world.” So they set off to write an album or make a film or create a painting about X. The product is released, and some people “get it” and some don’t. The ones who “get it” spend some time thinking and listening and looking.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor, like most post-rock bands, workshops their songs live before taking them to the studio. As a result, virtually every track they’ve ever recorded has extensive live recordings from before its release, and almost every track they’ve ever played live has eventually gotten a place on one of their records. For some, such as “Albanian” and “Gamelan” (later “Mladic” and “We Drift Like Worried Fire”), the process can take over a decade.
There were those who didn't run. There were those who got on so many drugs, turned the radio on, drew the curtains. There were those who clutched their babies. There were those who kissed in the last days. You know who they were; you saw their selfies, swiped left on their Tinder profiles, mined ….
Godspeed You! Black Emperor couldn't have picked a more perfect time to drop Luciferian Towers. So much of what's wrong with the world today match what they've spoken out against and in terms of politics, everything they fought against in the past seems to be happening in droves at present. So, while seen as prophetic in that sense, there's still the musical aspect to comply with and usually, you think thundering doom and post-apocalyptic sprawls of loud noise with GBYE.