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

F# A# ∞

Godspeed You! Black Emperor

 

Post Rock/Math rock

4.02 | 300 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

pianoman
4 stars ".the car's on fire and there's no driver at the wheel and the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides and a dark wind blows." - Dead Flag Blues

This is not an album: it is a vigilantly formed piece of art.

I debated with myself for about 30 minutes before I started writing the review on whether I should give it four stars, or if it deserved the extra push to the title of masterpiece. I finally decided that this work of art deserves the masterpiece title. For one they are the grand masters of soundscaping, and make pretty damn good music as well.

I can imagine driving around the nowhere parts of North Carolina, West Virginia, or similar landscapes, and every gas station has a blinking-buzzing light, and the pumps are rusted and covered in grime. Every other car is a beat-up pick up truck, and most of the houses are trailer homes. It's raining, it's pretty dark, and your lost in the middle of nowhere. You turn on the radio, and an AM radio voice drenched in static is all that you can pick up. These are the images conveyed on this album, inspired by the cover art itself. Anyway, on to the music.

F# A# (Infinity) was released in 1998 off of Kranky Records. The material on this album consists of works produced by the band between the years of 1995 and 1998. Godspeed spent 3-4 years producing a masterpiece that covers 3 tracks, running just over 63 minutes. For anyone unfamiliar with Godspeed, they don't make "songs," but their albums consist of orchestral-like movements that flow intricately into each other to create larger compositions.

Dead Flag Blues preaches the end of the world. Hairs raise on the back of your neck to the violins that grace you after the futile speech in the beginning. A desolate sounding guitar (with altered timbre that makes it sound far away, or like its drowning in reverb) repeats the violin. The rest of the band follows and supports the guitar, creating a beautiful harmony. After that intro, we watch the "slow trains" make their way down the track, as we are graced with experimental droning sounds capes that get start and slowly get lower and lower and lower. Finally we come to the real "blues" of the album with "Cowboy." A western sounding baseline accompanied by another guitar and drums are overtaken by a lead violin, and eventually a distant slide guitar. This is one of the highlights of the entire album.

Salvation cries out through a preacher in the streets, as bagpipes sing out the same tune. East Hastings slowly settles itself in. After the intro, the melodies start to rise: the repeating of doomed guitar is eventually joined by complimentary drums and bass, slowly pounding under all three guitar players. The introduction of crooning strings, that morph to puncture wounds and die, only to be risen again to puncture a hole in your speakers. The crescendo is the greatest one on the album and blasts this track into the end with unbelievable motion. Then the "discharge is charged" with the final movement, a conglomeration of depressing sounds.

Providence is the finale. This epic 29 minute composition starts with another monologue like Dead Flag Blues did, talking about the apocalypse. Then as the song progresses, your blood pressure will start to rise during a faster paced (for GY!BE standards) 7/8 section which is another high point on the record. The glockenspiel eventually takes the lead until the end of the movement. Then the eerie bellowing of what sounds like Amazing Grace(?) begins the next section. This is similar to the great crescendo from "East Hastings" but not as impressive. What is probably the saddest part on the album takes old of the second to last movement, with the static surrounded beckoning of "Where are you going?" This part is an emotional breakdown of ambient guitars and static, which slowly fades into silence. After a movie is over, but you wait through the credits, there is sometimes another scene at the end. Well if you can sit through five minutes of silence, then the final movement "String Loop Manufactured During Downpour" beautifully ends the album with a violent and final explosion of guitars, violin, cello, drums and static.

I suggest taking in the entirety of the album by yourself so that you can appreciate what it illustrates. This album is a socially conscious masterpiece that creates sounds and sights for the mind that no other musician has successfully explored before. Calling this collective a band seems inappropriate, as they are more or less an orchestra! This is one of many prog albums that should and hopefully will be remembered centuries from now; it is simply that poignant, seriously that unique, and definitely, that progressive.

4.5/5 rounded up

pianoman | 4/5 |

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