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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 | 295 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
4 stars "I said, Kiss me, you're beautiful: these are truly the last days. You grabbed my hand and we fell into it, like a daydream or a fever..."

The world-weary introductory narration to "The Dead Flag Blues", the opening elegy off the debut Godspeed You! Black Emperor album, sets a haunting mood that would forever define the musical career of these Canadian Post Rock pioneers. But more than that, it also describes the experience of listening to the album itself, which for a newcomer can feel like a headlong plunge into a bottomless pool of terror and bliss.

Despite all the maudlin strings and atmospheric guitars, that first epic medley is nowhere near as gloomy as its apocalyptic monologue would suggest. In fact after the rumbling freight train sound effect it turns almost jaunty, in a turn-of-the-last century sort of way. But what was it that Freud said about trains and death? The symbolism should be obvious, even to listeners who don't remember the similar metaphor used by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR in "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers", almost three decades earlier.

The eighteen-minute instrumental tension and release of "East Hastings" could have been designed as a blueprint for Post Rock structural dynamics. And when the nearly half-hour long "Providence" rolls slowly over the horizon (beginning with more rumors of Armageddon) the harder rock elements are finally pushed to center stage, in a tense, escalating jam that almost singlehandedly justifies the band's place on a web site devoted to Progressive Rock.

Of course even then GY!BE was more of an open-door orchestral collective than a legitimate rock group, and their first album needs to be absorbed by some form of sonic osmosis rather than listened to in a traditional manner. The music is often too loud for ambient navel-gazing, too slow for short attention spans, and arranged in piecemeal fragments, not always integrated successfully but helping the album achieve its uneasy, fractured power. Even the mini-masterpiece of "Providence" doesn't quite reach the dramatic resolution it promises, breaking into a sort of Post Rock bolero instead.

Maybe the young ensemble didn't believe there would ever be a second album, so they forced all their scattershot ideas onto a single disc. But the breadth of music is never less than impressive, and the impact of this freshman effort is undeniable. What it ultimately foretold was not the end of the world, but the start of an enigmatic, influential career.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |

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