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Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Yanqui U.X.O. CD (album) cover


Godspeed You! Black Emperor


Post Rock/Math rock

4.00 | 363 ratings

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Axel Dyberg
3 stars Ah yes, my first introduction to Godspeed You! Black Emperor. This album is perhaps a tad overrated, because people said that there are some truly beautiful melodies and emotional content. The latter is present, very present, however the beautiful melodies have been replaced with loud, menacing rhytms buried beneath a sea of violins and reverbed guitars screaming of echo, soon to be washed away and start all over again with another melody. This will appeal to many people perhaps, but the music is somewhere inbetween chaos and heaven. What you get is crescendos which rise in volume and mass until it finally stops and segues into another one. This is beautiful at times, but does tend to drag on a bit during later tracks. Now let's start...

01. 09-15-00 (16:27) begins with a lonely tremolo guitar soon joined by the piano. A loud, tribal-like rhytm is soon pounded out on giant percussion toms whilst the violins overencumber what's left of the piano playing. This segues into a fairly upbeat (Upbeat when talking about Godspeed, that is) section with the tribal rhythm still strong in the background. Eventually the guitars go into a reverb section of stunning beauty with the violins coming in too, creating a sort of interplay between the two without anybody dropping their guard. This crescendo keeps on for a short time, with the music going louder. Eventually all you hear is the violin and quiet bass, and again, time for a new crescendo, although this one has atonal violins in the background, which makes it quite scary with the lights off. A lonely, sad guitar texture comes into play soon afterwards, but it doesn't take long for the violin to overpower the guitar. This is one of the longest crescendos on the album, and after 2 minutes the drums come in and a strange thing happens... The first two beats of this 'riff' are atonal, and the last 2 beats are beautiful. I've never heard such a collaboration before, and frankly, it works quite well. At about 12 minutes in, another lonely melody is heard through heavily effected guitars. This is quite a short crescendo, and gives us a last, loud timber of crazy music. I can't say it's beautiful, but it's not ugly. The song ends with a screeching violin timber.

02. 09-15-00 (06:16) is perhaps the most beautiful piece on the album, and the shortest. It begins with something unusual for Godspeed; an uplifting melody. But then again, it's still drenched in sad piano chords and windy guitar effects which makes you feel like you're walking along an abandoned train track for all infinity. However, though incredibly beautiful, there's not much to say about this song, as it's one giant crescendo. Anyways, perhaps the most enjoyable song on the album.

03. Rockets Fall On Rocket Falls (20:42) begins with a spiraling riff going down tone for tone, then eventually begins again. The echo on the guitar makes for a cool effect as well. Of course, this is another monster crescendo where the instruments join one after another. When the drums kick in, the music goes loud. This goes on for a good 2-3 minutes and ends on the same tone repeated at least 8 times, and what we hear after that is nothing but loud guitar feedback. After this, a short violin section segues into the most rhytmic section on the album. Loud tom-drumming goes on for what seems forever (over a minute) before the other instrumentalists decide to participate. And when they do, it sounds like a bad medieival-inspired movie soundtrack. But after 2 minutes... What's this? Ah yes, we find out that it's an incredibly slow interpretation of the original riff that started the song. When the guitar joins as well, we get perhaps the darkest moment on the album. When it ends, this crescendo has thus been 8 minutes long before it segues into a space-rock esque version of the introduction riff again. However, the riff soon changes to a brilliant interplay section of drums, guitar and wind instruments. Awesome. After two minutes, it goes lunatic while maintaining order at the same time. Then it goes quiet, but we soon hear the violins and guitar again. It ends with an atonal chord.

04. Mother****er=Redeemer (21:22) starts very quietly. It keeps quiet until three minutes in, when the bass drum keeps a very upbeat beat, which I don't like at all. It sounds cheesy and too childish actually. It gets better when the snare and cumbals arrive though. Again, the 'intro' is a 10 minute crescendo, eventually going into quiet guitar playing, which is sad, and to me, quite emotional. A brilliant display of how Godspeed can make 10 minutes of the same thing sound so fresh every time it repeats. This dark section becomes more and more emotional as the bass and violins join too, to emulate that heart wrenching minor riff that makes me want to hug the stereo each time I hear it. Brilliance, pure brilliance. At 18 minutes in, we get the arguably most beautiful section on the entire album. It's unexplainable actually. A quiet bass leads a gentle guitar note through this gorgeous, but too short crescendo which doesn't go anywhere, but eventually fades out after the last note.

05. Mother****er=Redeemer (10:10) is probably the most boring track on the album. Starting out quietly, it eventually turns into a 10 minute noodle-fest which doesn't sound like Godspeed at all really. My advice is to skip this track And let the first two and second-to -last blow you away.

As I said, this album is perhaps a tad overrated when you want beautiful melodies. This one is based more around the chaos around us, and of course the music reflects that. Still, if you're interested in hearing the more avant-garde side of post rock with darker melodies that go lunatic at times, this is for you. 3 stars. Thank you for reading this review.

Axel Dyberg | 3/5 |


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