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Godspeed You! Black Emperor - F# A# ∞ CD (album) cover

F# A# ∞

Godspeed You! Black Emperor


Post Rock/Math rock

4.09 | 424 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars A Soundtrack For The End of The World

"We're trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death". Those are the first words you hear as Godspeed You Black Emperor's F#A#oo begins to play. A low, quiet, droning sound is heard as an aged man reminisces about the end of times. Immediately, the listener becomes aware that this is no ordinary album. It instantly comes off as being extremely dark and depressing, but at the same time it grabs you with a sense of eery curiosity. Although words like "dark" and "grim" may set off a death metal precognition, that would be false. These sounds are smooth and elegant, not the least bit offensive as a raging metal power chord. Think of a slow, droning air raid siren off in the distance on a cloudy day to get the feel of the "dark" sounds present in F#A#oo.

And those sounds fit perfectly with the style of this album. Unlike conventional rock or pop music, this album has more in common with classical music. Each of the three songs on F#A#oo is over 15 minutes long. Each song could subsequently be broken down into multiple movements, almost like a symphony. The band has over 10 members and lots of instruments at their disposal (everything from violins and brass to guitars). The resulting sounds are varied but minimalist in nature. But because of the obvious departure from conventional bands this album can and will be a complete turn off to most first time listeners. While I may have a hard time convincing people with bad first impressions for whatever reason they may have, I can try to let them know what makes this album such a gem. Anyone who is willing to push aside any initial qualms with F#A#oo will certainly appreciate it. The first track is titled "The Dead Flag Blues" and seems to float around theme present in the monologue spoken at the start of the album. There are no lyrics in F#A#oo, only spoken words. After nearly nine minutes the music seems to have gone no where. Just airy, grim, chords and a faint high pitched fluttering of a guitar string acts as the build to the main theme which begins about 10 minutes in. There's no melody present in these first nine minutes, just the sounds of instruments emulating what you could perceive as environmental sounds. As if you were standing in open barren landscape with a cold wind blowing over dark skies.

One might be quick to lash out that that could be nine minutes of filler but they would be mistaken. Those nine minutes set the scene. Those sounds swirl around in your mind and put you in the mood of the song. The artists then takes that and very very slowly speeds it up, adds a few notes here or there. Over that time, almost without notice, the music is rising in tension and building up. Eventually you become aware of the build up and the song will explode into a melody or a solo which in time tapers back off into barely nothing, all while remaining elegant and smooth.

The music never gets technical and doesn't display any sort of virtuosic instrument playing by any means, but It's these moments that make F#A#oo so great and memorable. Not only do the artists craft sound-scapes that can truly get the listener thinking, they do so with a certain elegance that's present because their minimalist approach. They're able to make sounds on their instrument that anyone can produce, but they craft them into situations that leave the listener thinking, "How could they possibly know to put that violin note with that trumpet sound? They fit perfectly together."

Like a movie, F#A#oo is best if experienced in long sessions. The whole thing could very well be listened through in one sitting, and that's not so hard because it's possible to get sucked into not want to come back out. This music leaves a lasting impression on the listener. The textures and production quality easily hypnotizes and keeps the listener enthralled as the songs progress. By the end of it all you're bound to leave with a deep melancholy feeling of lose. It's rare to come across such music that can hit all the right notes to trigger a response within the listener, and F#A#oo will have you in a different state of mind when the final sounds taper off. And while F#A#oo can easily be one of the most morbid, dark, and sad pieces ever written, that's also why it leaves such a lasting impression that sets it above a lot of music. Sometimes the saddest music is also the most beautiful.

All in all, F#A#oo is quite possibly one of the most thought inducing CDs I've ever heard. The apocalyptic sound-scapes almost instantly bring to mind scenes of devastation and barren, desolate landscapes. This runs through your mind the entire album which leads to a movie-like experience. To me, one of the greatest qualities that make up good music is the ability to move you and to transport you to another place and F#A#oo succeeds at doing this perfectly. The long track times and drawn out build ups may not be for everyone, but for us who are willing to look into something different for a change will be pleasantly surprised. Everyone should at least give this album a shot and experience some of the most thought provoking music ever.

Rovert | 5/5 |


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