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Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven CD (album) cover


Godspeed You! Black Emperor


Post Rock/Math rock

4.13 | 517 ratings

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3 stars I had not previously heard this band's music, and bought "Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven!" on spec. I did not even know what is Post Rock but, having read rave reviews of the band, was curious to find out what all the fuss was about. Having now listened for a few months to this 2-CD instrumental release I have to say that I am impressed, albeit perhaps not as much as some other reviewers. That said, I do enjoy this music and find it a worthwhile addition to my collection. It is also refreshing to hear something new: something progressive.

My first impression on listening to these two CDs was of TANGERINE DREAM but using conventional instruments. Then I read fellow reviewer diddy's review of "Yanqui U.X.O." and saw that he had exactly the same impression. Both CDs of "Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven!" are very atmospheric and I can easily listen to them back to back. The tracks consist of a mixture of music, everyday sounds and talking. The whole thing has an avant-garde feel to it, including the sleeve made of recycled card with bizarre artwork, the insert made of recycled paper, and the minimalist printing on the CDs themselves.

'Storm' ebbs and flows. It reminds me of a cold, grey day in the mountains or on the coast. I like the way the piece builds using violin, drums, guitar and trumpet to become a wall of sound, then calms, and then builds again. The music somehow forces you to listen and it does not feel like a 22-minute track. The distorted Tannoy and street sounds over plodding piano near the end of the track add to the bizarreness and atmosphere. 'Static', with foghorns and steam train at the beginning, again has a heavy atmosphere. I can almost feel clammy fog around me. The whining and whistling radio static, along with other sounds such as the talking clock and evangelical sermon with violin over the top sound so bleak. Then the music builds hypnotically using a motif and becomes heavier. But the end of the piece calms again, with percussion and non-melodic electric guitar wafting gently and relaxingly from the speakers. 'Sleep' starts off with the voice of an old man reminiscing about Coney Island in bygone days. Then haunting guitar, violin and drum come in and the piece evokes feelings of nostalgia and sadness. The music even sounds a little like laid-back, very early PINK FLOYD in one or two instances. Again the music builds slowly to create a wall of sound. Part of this piece actually has what approximates to a melody! This builds and the guitar becomes totally distorted. I know this distortion is done for effect but it sets my teeth on edge, although for some reason it does work - but I could not stand it if it went on longer. Fortunately the music ebbs briefly before building again, but then the distortion reappears and, to me, is just irritating. 'Antennas To Heaven' starts as a hillbilly ditty before introducing electric string slides and the tinkling of a glockenspiel, with children's voices and other sounds as a backdrop. Heavier music suddenly jumps in and then out again, before the piece calms and the instruments create an atmosphere evocative of a damp forest or damp city streets at night. This last part probably sounds the most like TANGERINE DREAM and is totally relaxing.

Listening to these two CDs is a mesmerising experience. I come away feeling quite refreshed. There are no killer riffs, nothing to make you tap your foot, nothing to make you hum, yet the CDs are compelling. I'm not sure whether this music would be to everyone's taste, but I think most lovers of rock music would find it interesting and pleasing. I'm certainly glad to have this release in my collection but have to say that I feel absolutely no desire to buy any more of the band's albums. I don't mean that in a derogatory way, just that these two CDs have satisfied my curiosity and my 'need' for this style of music. I will continue to listen to these CDs with pleasure, but don't intend to buy any more Post Rock albums. But I can recommend without reservation this release if you have yet to experience the sound of Post Rock. I would award "Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven!" three and a half stars if that were possible, but will go with 3 stars (Good, but non-essential). Fascinating stuff!

Fitzcarraldo | 3/5 |


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