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GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR

Post Rock/Math rock • Canada


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Godspeed You! Black Emperor biography
GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR! is an experimental nine-piece from Montreal, Canada that specializes in semi-avant-garde instrumental music of haunting beauty. They've released five discs of music, with a grand total of eleven pieces of music, so you know they can write some extended ideas. Formed in 1995, GYBE! consists of Roger Tellier-Craig (guitar), Norsola Johnson (cello), Efrim Menuck (guitar), Mauro Pezzente (bass), David Bryant (guitar), Thierry Amar (bass), Sophie Trudeau (violin), Aidan Girt (percussion), and Bruce Cawdron (percussion). GYBE!'s music should probably be described as long, dark, moody, and brilliant. Their sound was once compared to TANGERINE DREAM, except that GYBE! uses no keyboards. They paint a similar sonic texture to TANGERINE DREAM, but they do it using cello, violin, upright bass, and three guitars, rather than synths. In fact, GYBE! is very organic, often bringing in spoken word samples, as well as glockenspiel.

GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR!'s best album is arguably the double-disc "Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven". It consists of four 20 minutes pieces. "Yanqui U.X.O." is also an excellent album, having two 20 minute tracks and a 30 minute track. GYBE!'s other albums are "f#a#infinity" and "Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada."

GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR! is highly recommended for prog fans as Kraut Rock, epic-length experimental, or anyone looking for something a little different to sink their ears into.

BrainRock Ben, USA



See also:
- A Silver Mt. Zion
- Fly Pan Am
- Set Fire To Flames
- Valley Of The Giants
- Exhaust
- HṚṢṬA

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Asunder, Sweet And Other DistressAsunder, Sweet And Other Distress
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Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress by Godspeed You! Black EmperorAsunder, Sweet And Other Distress by Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Constellation
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GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR shows & tickets


  • FIB: Festival Internacional de Benicàssim 2015 on 15 Jul 2015
  • Zanne on 16 Jul 2015
  • Zanne Festival 2015 on 16 Jul 2015
  • Zanne Festival 2015 - DAY 4 on 19 Jul 2015
  • Hopscotch Music Festival 2015 on 10 Sep 2015
  • Simple Things Festival 2015: Opening Concert on 23 Oct 2015
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor at The Sage, Gateshead on 24 Oct 2015
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor at Brighton Dome, Brighton on 28 Oct 2015
  • Pitchfork Music Festival Paris 2015 on 29 Oct 2015

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR discography


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GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.06 | 322 ratings
F# A# ∞
1997
4.11 | 418 ratings
Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven
2000
3.98 | 254 ratings
Yanqui U.X.O.
2002
3.66 | 112 ratings
Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
2012
3.47 | 61 ratings
Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress
2015

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.40 | 5 ratings
All Lights Fucked On The Hairy Amp Drooling
1994
3.25 | 4 ratings
Split (ft. Amazezine)
1998
4.41 | 160 ratings
Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada E.P.
1999
3.33 | 3 ratings
Tiny Silver Hammers
2004

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.47 | 61 ratings

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Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by admireArt
Collaborator PSIKE Team

2 stars I have always thought of this band as the evolution of punk to its inevitable refinement or decadence considering its starting point in the stylistic cycle. Musically speaking its raunchiness, eclecticness and irreverent spirit surely owe a lot to that, then, underground style. Of course the also inevitable technological refinement has turned what once was horrible and rebelious noisy reverb into an extension of the music itself, which is fun but not that original in the electronic or RiO category in this Prog world or even in the outer worlds of Prog .

Outside of Prog the loved as hated Neil Young's solo, 1991, "ARC" or his multiple "with Crazy Horse" recordings or a more recent work like "Le noise", not to mention more into this noisy fields bands as Sonic Youth or the more obscure Cabaret Voltaire and of course the primitive but effective Sex Pistols themselves as many others that have already been playing with this NOISE/Rock in the outskirts of Prog for a while.

Therefore in comparison to those hearings, this kind of noisy "symphonic" sonic/rock environments, Godspeed You! Black Emperor's "Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress" propose in this today's world, well are not exactly the discovery of America!

Anyway, in this "Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress",(2015), they dwell too much into those muddy sonic-environments, and more than once they just come up with nothing but mud. I suppose you have to be a super loyal fan of the band or really be immersed in their conceptual image to listen to something beyond this, but music wise I really did not find anything truly relevant or at least interesting as original.

To be optimistic I will mention that it is instrumental, brief and music wise, the great instrumental contrast which happens here and there between the violins and the wall of music school musicians' noise/rock/post-punk, which ended up being more elegantly named and accepted in this Prog world as Post Rock/Math Rock.

To be honest **2.5 PA stars tops!

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 Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.66 | 112 ratings

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Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars Although the spine of my CD says the name of the band is GOD'S PEE, i am familiar enough with this band's play on words that this is indeed the fourth studio album by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR which is the first album by this band in ten years since "Yanqui U.X.O." While an entire decade has elapsed between albums, i am happy to say that the quality of the music has not! What we have here is a wonderful comeback album that cannot be mistaken for any other musical entity that i have encountered on this here planet and while not exactly topping the previous offerings it holds its own in a splendiferous manner.

ALLELUJAH! DON'T BEND! ASCEND! totally delivers on the satisfactometer. I, for one, LOVE this album and am tempted to give it 5 stars, but yet something about it keeps me from doing so. I guess it's missing a few elements that make the previous releases so very, very impressive and there is a sense of playing it safe by not really upping the ante or anything of the sort. However, this is a very satisfying album that delivers for any post-rock lover's sensibilities and will not disappoint in that manner. The music is magnanimous in scope, hypnotic in nature and just plain scratches that post-rock itch.

The first track "Mladic" is a drony piece that is imbued with only the slightest of tone changes that reaches slightly over twenty minutes in length. The subtleties are the magic as in most post-rock as the subtle sonic twists and turns are what makes this kind of music really work well. The second track "Their Helicopers' Sing" has a little melodic riff that repeats into infinity, well a 6:45 minute infinity! It contains the usually post-rock build up and layering effect albeit a very pleasing one with interesting time signature changes that break the melodic development up into progolisciousness delight! This track makes ample use of the violin, viola and other post-rocky elements that we have come to love so well in this sub-genre.

The third track "We Drift Like Worried Fire" reminds me a lot of the Indonesian gamelan music of Bali with its rhythms. It sounds to me like they used this template and embellished it with post-rock instrumentation. There is the usual drawn-out approach to repetition with nerve- racking sounds playing the dread card building up and up and up and up and up and up even more. This track lasts twenty and a half minutes and provides crucial elements in making this album very post-rocky. The fourth track "Strung Like Lights At Thee Primtemps Erable" is another drony almost Krautrock electronica dirge that maintains a steady mood while adding subdued melodic elements to the mix. An immensely pleasing comeback by an immensely pleasing band.

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 Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.47 | 61 ratings

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Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This. Is. Awesome! I thought that perhaps GY!BE had slightly slipped on their last album "Allelujah! Don't Bend Ascend" even though I love that album, it just didn't seem as great as their past efforts. I wondered if the best days were over for this band....but I am glad to report that I was soooooooo wrong. This album is amazing and beautiful and just simply beyond words.

Basically, what this album consists of is a single 40 minute composition that has been entitled "Behemoth" and it has been played in many live shows since 2012. It has been perfected and finally released on this album. The album divides the composition into 4 parts which make up the 4 tracks. And you don't have to worry, there is so much to be happy about this album. Don't let the fact that this is a 40 minute composition worry you, the band does not get lost in long noodling sessions or huge walls of never-ending noise. The music is well structured and flawlessly performed with changes in sound and dynamic. This is a masterpiece if there every was one. This is completely instrumental with no field recordings or spoken words, but it doesn't need that this time.

The first track (or section) is called "Peasantry or 'Light! Inside of Light!" and probably offers the most memorable melody that GY!BE has ever performed. The main theme is based around a middle-eastern sound that develops nicely and utilizes the full band. It doesn't incorporate the usual formula of post rock in that it instantly kicks in full force and continues with it's excellent orchestration through the entire 10 minutes. This seems to me to be the most positive and least dark music I have heard from the band and it really feels like a song of hope amidst the undercurrent of despair. This one will go down as one of my favorite GY!BE tracks. The next track enters into the drone section of the piece which is the 2nd movement. This drone is a lot different from the drones that were on the previous album in that instead of being a wall of noise built around the same chords, it is more of a minimalistic approach. It is dark and foreboding, yet somewhat industrial sounding to a point, without the loud noise, sort of reminiscent of King Crimson's most experimental period that incorporated the ProjeKcts, and probably the first drone that I would rate at 5 stars without hesitation. It is not what you have come to expect of dronework, but it actually seems to have direction instead of just noise.

The 3rd movement is also a drone, albeit shorter this time. It leads in off of the single note that the previous track ends off on as a continuous sound. It is impossible to tell exactly when one track ends and the other begins, but as the sound develops from this drone, it tends to be minimalistic again at first, and sounds a lot similar this time to a Bass Communion drone with percussive sounds. This continues to build though, layer upon layer, until it flows almost seamlessly into the last movement which returns to the full band. Here you get a return to the formula of the final climax built upon increasing intensity and force. The ending is well worth the build, as the climax is one of the best in the sub-genre. The climax comes at full power repeating a motif with building layers until the final release and once that release happens, the sparks continue to flicker and finally fade away as the music slowly dies out.

I have considered the best post rock as the composing of modern masterpieces using classical elements with modern instruments. The best pieces are orchestral and that is what this is, one of the best. I am glad to hear that GY!BE still have the power in them to put together an amazing masterpiece like this. No doubt that this is an instant classic and GY!BE fans need to rejoice that the band is still amazing! One of the best prog releases so far this year. 5 brightly shining stars!

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 Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.47 | 61 ratings

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Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by CassandraLeo

5 stars The latest album by reigning post-rock masters Godspeed You! Black Emperor consists solely of the song "Behemoth", which has been performed live going back to 2012. At a hair over forty minutes, it's their shortest full-length album since the vinyl edition of their début album, F♯ A♯ ∞, and the band has spent quite a bit of time honing the song since its introduction in live shows. It's leaner (the running time has dropped by around four minutes) and denser than it was when they introduced it, and the drone sections, which make up most of the midsection of the song, have been refined substantially in the intervening time.

Since, apart from the two brief drone pieces on 2012's 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!, this is the first material the group has written since its reformation, there are a few subtle differences here from the band's earlier music. The band has continued its preoccupation with drone music exhibited on the aforementioned 2012 album, so if you were annoyed that the band seemed to have increased the portion of drone music on its last release, the midsection of this piece won't leave you feeling any more satisfied. However, the epic, progressive scope of the band's music is unchanged, and if anything, has increased with this release. This is the longest song the band has ever recorded by a substantial margin, and it delivers the emotional payoff a listener would hope for. "Peasantry or 'Light! Inside of Light!'" is a suitably weighty intro, which leads seamlessly into the free-floating "Lambs' Breath" and the steadily building "Asunder, Sweet" before the album's emotional centrepiece, "Piss Crowns Are Trebled". The last of these stands among the weightiest tracks Godspeed have ever recorded, and would justify the purchase of this recording even if it were the only compelling track on it. Thankfully, the recording's heft is such that a listener, upon finishing it, may well feel that the only appropriate course of action is to start it again. This album continues Godspeed's considerable winning streak, and as listeners we can only hope that they continue to produce such worthy material.

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 Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.66 | 112 ratings

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Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by JJLehto
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Released silently while on tour, I didn't actually know this album was out until I was in the lobby waiting to see the band live. Needless to say this album was huge news for fans, GY!BE's first release in 10 years. What to make of this new release?

The album consists of two long songs, and two short ones. The long ones are redone versions of songs the band has played live before, while the shorter ones are more ambient, soundscape pieces...very droning and minimalist.

This makes the album difficult for me to review, as it feels more like two songs and filler, rather than four actual songs, and while I have no issue with "Their Helicopters Sing" and "Strung Like Lights at Thee Printemps Erable" and would even say I enjoy them, they fail to "do much" for me as part of the album. While the long songs, "Mladic" and "We Drift Like Worried Fire" are both pretty brilliant.

"Mladic" runs the gambit of everything we've come to expect from GY!BE: Mind scratching samples, lengthy, slowly building, ascending and descending songs with lots of power and fury. There are the sounds of what I can only describe as guitars crying, pounding, hypnotic drums and a superb Middle Eastern melody that much of the middle of the song builds around, and some absolutely frantic parts. The song moves into a powerful droning section, just to build again to another climax and finishes with the sounds of protesters, clanging pots and pans.

It actually is quite beautiful in its sound and harmony, especially punctuated with car horns and people chattering. It's beautiful in sound and meaning, people getting together to fight for their beliefs. As always, GY!BE is making a political statement, but one that requires research. I being unfamiliar with Quebecois politics...had to look up "Le Plan Nord" and "La Loi 78" which are colorfully protested against in the album's liner notes. I think understand these things make the album even more meaningful, but I don't want to digress so basically these are two bills that are being criticized for limiting the rights of protesting, and for opening up large areas of protected land to mining. I do believe knowing this facts and keeping them in mind add depth to the album.

"We Drift Like Worried Fire" is again pretty charted waters for GY!BE though as always, superbly done and features a wonderful bass heavy, powerful drumming finale.

Final thoughts on this album? It is a fairly standard GY!BE album. This is not a bad thing, standard godspeed is better than most other bands and the same is true here. The soundscape songs are pretty good, though don't feel quite like they add to the album, and while the lengthy songs are superb they are, apparently, not wholly original. Still, this is great stuff and this album was a bit heavier and a good bit noisier than typical GY!BE, with a little more use of drone as well. As always it is both overtly political while not explaining it to you. It fact it may be their most political album yet: the back cover features a poem involving "plague of policemen" and lost dreams. Inside is a picture of a dead bird, (peace?) and an empty drive through sign, perhaps signifying the loss of "old days" and a snapshot of a crumbling economy. One can speculate for ages, all I know for sure is this is a very solid album that may not break any new ground, but is superbly done and very welcomed. Let's hope there will be new material in the future.

Three and a Half Stars BUMP: FOUR STARS

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 F# A# ∞ by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.06 | 322 ratings

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F# A# ∞
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This album is one of the most essential albums in the sub-genre of post rock. It is beautiful, stark, ambient at times and explosive in others. It is by all rights a modern art masterpiece. I remember being captivated by it the first time I heard it, and I thought at the time that my love for it would slacken after hearing it several more times. I have put this album to the test and have even grown to love it more, and that is after hearing countless times now. Simply beautiful and pensive, yet complex and explosive. So much emotion throughout the album that even the loudest passages can make you feel overwhelmed with emotion to be close to tears. And different passages touch me differently each time I hear it.

The original album was comprised of 2 long tracks which were in turn divided into multiple movements. The vinyl album was only distributed privately by the band and through their concerts. However, word of mouth got out and the band was signed to a label and the band was honed down from 15 or more members to 10, the label re-issued the album on CD and the band created one more track ("Providence") to expand the total time to over an hour. The music was rearranged a bit for the CD, but the vinyl copy remains as it was. The beauty of the vinyl copy are the many "extras" that come with it, including a penny crushed by a moving train. (I love those extras when they are added to vinyl albums.) Also, the vinyl copy has a locked groove at the end of the final track that can play until infinity, or until the listener lifts the needle from the record. I do have the CD copy also though, and I love both of them almost as 2 separate albums.

Starting out, you get "The Dead Flag Blues" which is probably the highlight of the album, even though I love the entire album. It is divided into 3 sub sections on the CD and 6 sections on the vinyl copy. The Intro section on the CD is slightly longer than the vinyl edition, but it's hard to tell the difference between the two. This section features a beautifully composed and read poem about the apocalypse which has a long instrumental break in the middle. The instrumental feels like part of the complete poem and is a slow burning beat with a violin leading the instruments with a slight crescendo and then it cools back down for the last of the poem. The second section is called "Slow Moving Trains/The Cowboy..." On the vinyl, these are separated into two tracks, but are still the same playing time. You hear the train with some awesome ambient descending/ascending drone underneath it. So beautiful. Finally, a melody comes along in the form of an almost spaghetti-western sounding melody on guitar. It works as a great soundtrack to any Cormac McCarthy book or even "The Gunslinger" series by Stephen King. Such a great apocalyptic sound. At this point, the CD ends the track with a two minute outro of the song while the vinyl takes one of the movements from the "East Hastings" track called "Drugs in Tokyo" and places it here before doing the Outro. Then the vinyl also adds another short "Untitled" movement to close out the track completely.

The next track is called "East Hastings" on the CD and called "Bleak, Uncertain, Beautiful..." on the vinyl copy. The first movement is called "Nothing's Alrite in Our Life/The Dead Flag Blues (Reprise)" on both CD and vinyl, but the vinyl version is 1/2 minute longer. This is a track that features a street preacher with bagpipes playing the reprise. This fades and is replaced by "The Sad Mafioso..." on both editions, but the CD version is over 10 minutes where it is just over 5 minutes on the vinyl version. This has a very nice drone which is manipulated to be warped up and down in tone to a very nice effect while a building guitar pattern is played for a while before breaking into a improvised solo based on the pattern. This builds to a climax which is released, the drone quits and a fast percussion pattern starts. A new crescendo starts with a new guitar pattern which also breaks into improvisation, builds to a climax and then releases again. At this point on the CD, the next movement is "Drugs in Tokyo/Black Helicopter" which ends the track in electronic noise and ambience until the end of the track. The vinyl version at this point takes the movement known as "Kicking Horse at Brokenhill" which is part of the "Providence" track on the CD version, then ends the track with "String Loop Manufactured While Downpour", also part of "Providence" on the CD. The track plays through until it comes to the locked groove which is where the album gets it's title as the music alternates from an F# chord to A# chord played until infinity. I usually can't wait that long, so I life the needle off the record after about a 1/2 minute or so.

The last track on the CD is about a half hour long, and except where noted above, does not exist on the vinyl version. This track starts out with "Divorce & Fever..." which is a field recording of an interview. The next movement takes over with "Dead Metheny...." which is led by a cello playing a melody with several other instruments floating around the melody which builds to a climax and then passes into the next movement "Kicking Horse at Brokenhill" which has a military type rhythm. At the end of that, a piece of a sampled song from the musical "Godspell" plays repeatedly and fades into "String Loop...." which is a beautiful ambient piece of sound effects, drones and accompaniment. This fades to silence for about 3 minutes and then moves into the last movement "J.L.H Outro" which is named after John Lee Hooker. I'm not sure if this is a sampled piece of music that has been electronically altered or not, but the track plays a repeated sound with ambience swirling around it.

So, I have tried my best to describe this masterpiece of an album, but it is so hard to express the emotions of destitution, loss, loneliness and hope that this music conveys. It's not all bleak as it may sound, because there is a feeling of hope and beauty that is threaded throughout this music. I feel it as a tribute to the human spirit, that even though all may seem lost, the spirit always finds a way to survive. I could never hope to express how wonderful this music is in words, you must listen for yourself. And it is not truly listening by playing it as background music, the best experience is when you can be uninterrupted and have a pair of great headphones on. Then let yourself get lost into whatever images your mind conjures up. This is such a wonderful example of rock influenced neo-classical music....or post rock.

A lot of post-rock bands use the basic construction of quiet, crescendo, climax for the pattern to develop their songs. Unfortunately, they forget to add effective use of dynamics, emotion and ingenuity and end up with a lot of half-hearted music. Many bands like Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor know how to do things right in this respect. But this album is a perfect example of what post-rock should be. For that reason, this is an essential album in every sense. If you listen to one post-rock album, this should be it. 5 glowing stars.....but it's a perfect 6 star album, and I don't give out the extra star very often.

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 Yanqui U.X.O. by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.98 | 254 ratings

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Yanqui U.X.O.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Another amazing collection of music by this seminal band. There isn't a lot of political music out there anymore, but GY!BE is political...and they are Canadian. They hit the political message right in the nose.....and they are mostly instrumental. In fact, in this album, they are completely instrumental and this is probably their most political/musical album. But that is one of the beauties here....you can take the political side and guess at what they are trying to convey by looking at the album art and etc., or you can close your eyes and imagine any image that the music conjures up in your mind.

Like I said, this is all instrumental. There are no sound collages and field recordings that were evident on their other albums, and, unfortunately, it is the one thing that is missed here. But the music itself is awesome. There are 3 main compositions here, two of them are divided into 2 parts, plus the vinyl had one extra track (which, by the way, is a spoken word recording by George Bush which has been cut and pasted together). Each separate composition is actually a multi-movement work, but, and this is another unfortunate fact, the movements are not outlined in the program notes or track list like it was on "Lift Yr Skinny Fists....". I do miss that because it would make the tracks seem less dense on this album. I know having that diagram of the breakdown of the tracks on the previous album really helped in the understanding of the music structure. But, once again, the music is still amazing. This album is more of a musicscape where their other albums were soundscapes.

It always surprises me, that given the length of most of GB!YE's works, that the time always seems to fly by when I am listening to them. On this album, you have 2 tracks that are over 20 minutes, but, even with the slow buildups and long releases, the time still goes by quickly and they are over before I know it.

A lot of this music was actually in existence before the recording of the E.P. "Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada", so it's been around for a while before the recording of this album. The music was perfected and retitled (from titles in GY!BE concerts). The music works off the basic Post-rock formula, which in many cases for me, has been a failure for many other bands because they don't expand on the formula enough. However, it always seems to work so well for GY!BE, because of the emotion put into the music, the way all the layers work together so well, the timing seems to always be right as far as when to reach the inevitable climax, and the fact that the music always moves or progresses. Rhythms change almost seamlessly but at a moments notice, the music is symphonic and epic. To me, this is in the same category as Classical music, even if it is still rock (progressive art rock), it is rock music pushed to newer boundaries.

A lot of fans seem to have had a harder time with this album. I know I did at first, but now I notice a lot more variety and movements within each song, which were not quite so evident without the program notes that were available in "Lift...". The music seems denser at first too because it isn't broken up by the field recordings. The thing is, with this album, it takes more time for it to sink in. But, the beauty and the wonder is still all there. Dynamics are determined more by layering then I think it was on earlier albums. There is definitely a lot more dissonance in this album also, which works well for the music on this album.

When I first heard this album, I considered it a lesser recording than the previous albums. I have gotten past that now. It took time, but I have found the masterpiece in this album and now consider it as great as their other albums. Yes it is a masterpiece and, as the other GY!BE albums, I consider it essential, especially for the proclaimed lovers of Post-rock.

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 Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.11 | 418 ratings

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Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that this album and the previous "F#A# (infinity)" album and the E.P. "Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada" are all masterpieces of post rock and anyone that claims to love post rock should be familiar with them. In fact, the Rate Your Music website lists "Slow Riot..." as the best E.P. out of a list of 5000 E.P.s ("Top EPs of all time") that are voted on by members of that site on a monthly basis. It keeps winning that status month after month. But at the same time, I am shocked at how many people that I discuss music with have never heard of this band or of "A Silver Mt. Zion", even people that would be considered music experts, even now that I am living in Canada (since the members of the band are based out of Quebec).

This is an album that has been reviewed many times on PA and is rated quite highly, though I see a lot of varying opinions also. Keep in mind that this band has been very influential in post-rock music and continues to be now with their re-formation. This album is instrumental except for some short spoken word and field recordings that help set the atmosphere for the tracks on this album. To me, this is what a modern day orchestra should sound like. The music is full at times and ambient in others with a wide range of both quick and slow crescendos and decrescendos throughout the long tracks. The music is quite bleak sounding, but done so well that it invokes amazing feelings in the listener, sometimes dark and broody and at other times uplifting and inspiring. It is not easy to listen to if you have not been introduced to post rock because there is a lot of dissonance and odd timbres in the harmonics between the instruments, but that all adds to the uniqueness of the band.

The best way that I have found to listen to this album is to break up the long tracks. In fact, it would be nice if the CD were indexed according to the movements within the individual tracks, but that is only a minor complaint. There is, however, a drawing included with both the CD and the vinyl (inside the gatefold in the vinyl) which shows the structure of the 4 compositions, and it makes the entire album a lot easier to digest and gives each track a lot more personality than it does if you try to listen to the entire album without this structural drawing. It helps to understand and break up the long tracks by following this map. Even without the exact timing listed on all of the movements, it is easy to determine about where each movement ends and begins even though there are no exact breaks between the movements, they flow into one another and at times overlap a bit. But they are mostly distinct and not combined/meshed together as Yes was inclined to do. Even with the distinctness between the tracks, they flow into each other naturally. Following the structural map will increase your understanding of the individual complete compositions and your appreciation to the genius at work in the music will increase as will your love for the music. At least it does for me.

This is also the longest album by the group at over 80 minutes of excellent music. It is not the best music to drive to, at least until you familiarize yourself to it. The music demands your attention and I have found that when I drive my mind wanders a lot, the music in this album might take on a feeling of sameness if you haven't familiarized your self to it. This is music that you need to sit back and listen to and understand the images that are being invoked. The images that come up in your mind however are going to be a lot different from mine, and probably from the images the band had in mind also. It's okay to research what the band wanted you to feel, but I feel it works best if you can relate your own experiences to what you listen to.

Amazing, haunting, inspiring, progressive. Definitely a masterpiece to modern progressive rock music and essential for anyone following post-rock. I love this music and not only rank it as some of the best rock oriented music ever, but also some of the best classically influenced music and hopefully someday, music like this will be seen and respected as classical music. Simply gorgeous and wonderful. 5 extremely bright stars.

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 Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.11 | 418 ratings

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Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven' - Godspeed You! Black Emperor (83/100)

Unlike so many of rock music's offshoots and derivatives, post-rock history only hit its stride in the new millennium. That Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven is already considered such a classic in spite of its relative youth (14 years, by my current count) might suggest the depth and burstfire influence it's had on music since. While most 14 year olds are in the mid-reaches of Middle School and possibly eschewing their Star Wars lunchboxes in favour of experimentation with lurid marijuanas and cheap liquor, Lift Yr. Skinny Fists has set the standard for one of the most interesting stylistic developments of the millennium. Like the music itself or not; that's a pretty goddamned impressive feat.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor were a point of contention throughout my youthful listening ventures. I've always been a fan of the 'cinematic' experience in music, and Godspeed have that painted all over them; at the same time, in spite of my enduring love of the ambient form, there's just been something about their work that's kept me from loving it. I remember listening to their debut in high school and being completely unmoved by it, much to the chagrin of friends with nothing but lavish praise to give the band. Some years later, and I am beginning to see what I missed with Lift Yr. Skinny Fists. Undoubtedly, it's a more compelling experience than its predecessor, not only improving on the longwinded orchestrations of F♯ A♯ ∞ but also expanding past it. Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven simultaneously manages to be more ambitious and more accessible than Godspeed were before. It's a cinematic experience in sound-form that consequently nearly lasts the length of the average film. For all of its meticulous detail and scope, it's still not as emotionally compelling as I would have liked to hear in a post-rock recording, but I've little doubt Lift Yr. Skinny Fists justifies the respect and most of the acclaim its earned.

The 'four tracks, twenty minutes each' format here reminds me of another of my favourite ambient double albums. Indeed, Tangerine Dream's chilling Zeit comes to mind several times; in spite of Zeit being a predominantly electronic release and Skinny Fists consisting largely of electric guitar flourishes and sampled field recordings, there's a similar sense of awe and immersiveness to be felt here. Although I've had at least one friend proclaim to me that Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven is the embodiment of what post-rock is all about, each time I've listened to the album it's never felt like an all- encompassing description of the music. The quintessential post-rock crescendos and expansive textures are here in full, but the album would just as easily merit the label of 'ambient'. I believe it was Brian Eno that described ambient music as something that could be enjoyed in the background as well as it could be dissected by an active and attentive ear. I might go a step further and say it is good ambient music that does this; Lift Yr. Skinny Fists is no exception.

The daunting prospect of four massive movements is either downplayed or amplified by the fact that the pieces aren't so much start-to-finish compositions as they are each homes for consistently eclectic (and seemingly unrelated) ideas. Even after becoming familiar with Lift Yr. Skinny Fists as a whole, it's still difficult to draw an association between the beginning and end of a movement. Judging from the appropriately byzantine track listing (with enough listed sub-sections to make King Crimson whizz their pants) the four chunks are so divided to give the sense of 'vinyl sides' in a digital age; more than that, the spoken word samples are given greater weight and poignancy when there's no track distinction separating them from the music itself. As it tends to be with potentially abstract work like Skinny Fists-no inherent meaning is laid out for the audience to draw from- most of the way these four compositions interact within themselves can and should be interpreted subjectively. Rest assured, there's no doubt that the album has been arranged the way it is with meticulous care and focus.

Although they occupy a much smaller proportion of the album than I was expecting, the actual post-rock segments are easily the best thing Skinny Fists has to offer. I swear the first time I listened to the uplifting beginnings of "Storm", it felt like I was falling in love in the summer, even though I was listening to it on a stinky bus with clouds pissing rain every which way outside. The latter movements ("Sleep" and "Antennas to Heaven") are even more glorious in this regard; the latter of the two in particular has a beautifully vulnerable air to the way the guitars bend and weep. I think one of the things that keeps me from calling Godspeed's opus one of my favourite post-rock records is that so much of the time spent listening to it is in anticipation for these gorgeous orchestrations.

The ambiance and samples are clear downtown compared to the album's more lavish passages, but there's plenty of surprising depth. The much-talked about voice samples could have essays written about them regarding what Godspeed You! Black Emperor might be trying to say with them. From the Arco AM/PM Mini-Mart disclaimer at the end of "Storm" (alerting its customers to be suspicious of potential panhandlers) to Murray Ostril's elegy for a now-deceased Coney Island at the beginning of "Sleep", Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven feels like a melancholic response to the way modern society has robbed life of magic and meaning. This interpretation is made problematic with the inclusion of a fringe Christian preacher during the album's most ambient piece "Static", in which a search for meaning is outlined in religious terms of an almost frightening conviction. I usually find spoken word segments lose their value within a few listens of an album, but in the case of Lift Yr. Skinny Fists, I'm finding myself constantly wondering what the hidden meaning of it all might be, as if it's some kind of subjectively metaphorical Rubik's Cube, begging to lend its secrets to the thoughtful listener. Of course, no explicit explanation can or should ever tarnish the experience of this album; part of the enduring fascination I have with this album is the sense that I'm nurturing an increasingly unique and individual experience of it every time I give it a listen. Hopefully you'll feel or have felt a similar satisfaction listening to it.

Considering how emotional Godspeed You! Black Emperor's particular type of post-rock tends to be, it's fairly surprising (and disappointing) that they seem to keep an emotional distance from their audience throughout the album. The mish-mash of spoken word segments with ambiance and steady crescendos only works if it entreats a subjective response from the listener, but Godspeed performs their music with a certain rigid quality; more akin to an orchestra, it snuffs out any personal imprint in favour of colouring within the lines of the composition. Yet, I don't think staying true to the composition and sincerity are mutually exclusive; Explosions in the Sky's music has always felt purposefully composed, and listening to some of their best work it feels like I could be hearing them in some resonant living room-space. Godspeed You! Black Emperor are much more aloof; very little seems to have been bred out of spontaneity, and even the smallest details appear to be the product of forethought. It's as if they've erected the album as a sort of monolith; the two options given to the listener are to stay away from it, or solemnly appreciate it from arm's length. This is not necessarily a bad thing in of itself, but in the case of Lift Yr. Skinny Fists, I'm a little puzzled that such an academic stance would be taken with such a subjective piece of art.

So much more than the typical post-rock album, Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven is one part gorgeously arranged rock orchestra, one part ambient, and one part field recordings and poignant vocal samples. Beyond the more technical points of its production (which is near-perfect for what it sets out to do) the result is an album that could be interpreted a countless number of ways. Like a lot of great art, the experience and interpretation of the album is determined in large part by the inner workings of the person listening to it- I know that could be said for all of music or art, but especially in the case of Lift Yr. Skinny Fists, equally sound and plausible arguments could be made praising or denouncing it, for the sheer sake that it's left to the listener to draw the conclusions themselves. It's wonderfully subjective for such an oddly impersonal album. It's far from being a favourite of mine in post-rock or otherwise, but I'm damned if there aren't few to equal it in terms of scope and depth.

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 Yanqui U.X.O. by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.98 | 254 ratings

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Yanqui U.X.O.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars YANQUI U.X.O (Spanish for Yankee followed by "unexploded ordnance" is the fourth release (third full album by GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR (they dropped the "!" on this one) and although it wasn't lauded with the praise that their previous releases had because of the fact they dropped their field recordings and some of the techniques they had utilized in the past, this album still retains the post-apocalyptic feel and sense of impending doom and dread of the others. In fact, the album cover says it all. It is simply an aircraft in the process of dropping bombs which leaves a world of devastated death, destruction and bleakness. The fact that they included no human utterings whatsoever only heightens that bleakness for me. The music is admittedly a tad more simplistic but it feels even darker and more hopeless than even I thought possible.

In short, this album is the logical extension of the others. It still retains the pulsating post-rock triumphs that GODSPEED is so famous for without all those extra touches that some may have deemed distracting. The music is the sole focus and they deliver it in a mesmerizing and hypnotic fashion. The repetitive string laden passages and the ominous hooks ratchet up to a harder and more frenzied climax this time around however it is true that GODSPEED doesn't really add much new to the mix. I can understand the criticism and all about this particular release but when a band catches on to a sound this profound and powerful I am not the least bit disappointed to hear another similar album in the vein of its predecessors There was more than enough life left in this sound to make a fourth release that was a viable addition to their discography. Due to the crazy amount of side projects taking up band members' time, there would not be another GODSPEED album for another ten years. Creepy and excellent.

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