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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

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars Put Your Shiny Coins Back Into Your Wallets Like Ants in an AntHeap

OK, I'm no poet.

3 words can sum up this entire album;

Dull, dull, and dull.

Did I say that this album is dull?

I probably gave you high expectations then.

Maybe GYBE took Radiohead literally when they ironically sang "Hey, man, slow down" at the end of the OK Computer album in 1997.

Glacially slow developments of uninteresting musical ideas "exploring" texture at the expense of actual music give way to... well... nothing really. Barclay James Harvest on Mogadons, possibly. One thing is impressive, though, that the band themselves can actually maintain interest or stay awake during the marathon build-ups and burn-outs, and not least during the inconsequential pieces of rock music in between.

Impressive appears to be the watchword here, but the band try too hard to impress with the layers of interesting sounds, and few are the moments when you feel that any kind of musical portrait is being drawn, or that you are travelling on any kind of musical journey - except, maybe, the very long sort that never seems to end.

I must admit, I was expecting to enjoy the "Storm", the "Cancer Towers", and the "Terrible Canyons of Static", but felt let down at the non-programmatic nature of the soundscapes. My fault, perhaps, for reading the track titles before getting stuck in - but I like to see what expectations the packaging sets up for the music and my reactions on hearing it.

Ever more regressive, the band try to conjoure atmospheres with sampled speech over more glacially slow playing and effects - but with no purpose. The sounds within the pieces are never referential of the titles - one would assume that the titles were thought up independently of the soundscapes as if to lend them some sort of creedence to mask the absence of actual musical ability.

For there is little or no evidence of actual composition here - and I understand that Post-Rock is "supposed" to avoid formal concepts, but it is also supposed to be complex. While there is undoubtedly a web of sounds that is complex, that doesn't equate to being complicated or musically interesting in any way - it equates to many layers. Ironically, the incredibly simplistic forms aren't hard to untangle either - the only reason they may not be immediately obvious is the horrendous length of everything.

It's hardly original either. It all sounds like an elongated spin-off of old ideas, albeit with the lack of intent, intellectual prowess and musical ability of the forebearers. In fact, this is like the stuff you get in the better Prog Rock bands as atmospherics in between the good stuff, but with less imagination.

The final problem: Compression.

Compression sucks the life out of good sounds, and is necessary when everyone wants to turn their instruments up to 11 on the mixing desk, or if a particular sound has too much dynamic. While there is reasonable dynamic for the most part in the quieter sections, in the loudest sections where everything piles in, e.g. "World Police and Friendly Fire", the whole shooting match clips uncomfortably, and no-one with "engineers ears" would want to listen to the resultant mess.

For a band so tightly focussed on timbre, this is a real problem.

To summarise:

Bad production, lack of real musicianship, regressive rather than progressive ideas and overall, a real yawn. Not fit to sit in the same collection as Gentle Giant, King Crimson or Frank Zappa - although Tangerine Dream fans may express the mildest of interest.

Possibly interesting for one listen - but don't part with hard cash for it!

Certif1ed | 1/5 |


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