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

F# A# ∞

Godspeed You! Black Emperor

 

Post Rock/Math rock

4.03 | 301 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'F# A# ∞' - Godspeed You! Black Emperor (6/10)

Post-rock has been said to be a genre in decline, but at its peak was once Godspeed You! Black Emperor, a band who really went beyond the minimalistic guitar flourishes many have become accustomed to with the genre and amped up the orchestrations with lush string sections and electronic ambiance. Here is the band's debut, 'F# A# ∞', which- possibly dwarfed only by the band's sophomore- is among the most highly regarded works in all of post-rock, and worshiped by critics across the board. While 'F# A# ∞' is certainly in no dearth of intelligence or passion however, its indulgent sense of ambiance and mellowness can tend to make the album a toss-up between what sections of brilliance there are present here, and the somewhat more common quiet soundscapes and tedious stretches of silence that plague the record.

Being my first true experience with the band sparing a remarkably fitting sequence their music was set to in the film 28 Days Later, 'F# A# ∞' comes to me only with the knowledge that the band is one of the most well-regarded in both indie and progressive music scenes. With that having been said, I can simultaneously see why they might herald such acclaim, but I am also remarkably underwhelmed. Even after several listens to the record, 'F# A# ∞' remains to me an album that seems to have a world of potential and unfulfilled brilliance in it. Instead, Godspeed seems to get lost in their own indulgences with their debut. Although the album is over an hour long, there are only a few precious minutes on each track that truly warrants a listener's excitement. Most notable among these are actually the more conventional post-rock moments on the album, which bring about a great deal of emotional resonance to them. Besides that, the instruments are used quite frugally, giving way to very minimalistic electronic samples, tape loops, and even a few spoken word dialogues in each of 'F# A# ∞'s three parts. The dialogues do come as a bit of a system shock- the sound of a human voice in this mostly instrumental affair comes as something of a surprise each time- but despite what philosophical ponderings they may stir the first few spins around the record, the rough way they are mixed and the somewhat off-putting way they are integrated into the music doesn't work so well.

'F# A# ∞' is certainly a diverse album, but the proportions are all out of place. Had the band used the exact same ingredients but used them in such a way where much of the droning silence was taken out in the favour of cohesive composition and musicianship, Godspeed could have easily convinced me of their excellence. The band shows themselves to me as an act with some of the most potential the post-rock genre has ever seen, but while 'F# A# ∞' may be still very good for what it is, it is still a record that can only be played for very specific moods.

Conor Fynes | 3/5 |

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