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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

Godspeed You! Black Emperor official website

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'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
CONSTELLATION 2012
Audio CD$9.38
$7.85 (used)
Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven [Vinyl]Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven [Vinyl]
Constellation 2000
Vinyl$23.99
Song of the Silent LandSong of the Silent Land
Constellation 2004
Audio CD$11.95
$5.99 (used)
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GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR shows & tickets


  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor at Markthalle, Hamburg on 7 Apr 2015
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor at Weststadthalle, Essen on 8 Apr 2015
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor + Carla Bozulich at Freiheiz, München on 9 Apr 2015
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor at Live Club, Trezzo sull'Adda, Milan on 10 Apr 2015
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor at Estragon, Bologna on 11 Apr 2015
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor at Les Docks, Lausanne on 12 Apr 2015
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor at Transbordeur, Villeurbanne on 15 Apr 2015
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor at L'Aéronef, Euralille on 16 Apr 2015
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor at Albert Hall, Manchester on 17 Apr 2015
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor at Vicar Street, Baile Átha Cliath on 18 Apr 2015
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor + Xylouris White at O2 ABC, Glasgow on 19 Apr 2015
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor + Xylouris White at Shepherds Bush Empire, London on 20 Apr 2015
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor + Xylouris White at Bataclan, Paris on 22 Apr 2015
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor + Xylouris White at La Vapeur, Dijon on 24 Apr 2015
  • Donaufestival 2015 on 24 Apr 2015
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor + Xylouris White at Salzhaus, Winterthur on 25 Apr 2015
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor + Xylouris White at La Laiterie, Strasbourg on 28 Apr 2015
  • Les Nuits Botanique 2015: Godspeed You! Black Emperor on 29 Apr 2015
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor + Xylouris White at Paradiso, Amsterdam on 30 Apr 2015
  • Rewire Festival 2015 on 1 May 2015
  • ATP Iceland 2015 on 2 Jul 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)

4.03 | 310 ratings
F# A# ∞
1997
4.11 | 404 ratings
Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven
2000
3.97 | 245 ratings
Yanqui U.X.O.
2002
3.59 | 102 ratings
Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
2012

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)

3.00 | 4 ratings
All Lights Fucked On The Hairy Amp Drooling
1994
2.50 | 2 ratings
Split (ft. Amazezine)
1998
4.40 | 155 ratings
Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada E.P.
1999
2.50 | 2 ratings
Tiny Silver Hammers
2004

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Yanqui U.X.O. by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.97 | 245 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 | 404 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 | 404 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
3.97 | 245 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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 Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.11 | 404 ratings

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

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

5 stars GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR really went for it on their 2nd full album LIFT YOUR SKINNY FISTS LIKE ANTENNAS TO HEAVEN and made one of the most classic and eclectic post-rock albums ever. Although this double album embraces the post-apocalyptic soundscapes that the previous album and EP so successfully achieved, this album covers a much broader musical spectrum. As usual the band starts out with violins and soft repetitive musical patterns that slowly ratchet their way up the intensity scale. The album is broken up into four long sprawling tracks which are further subdivided into smaller parts but I rarely care about the minutia of song titles when I listen to such strange music like this as I usually think of something different than what was intended anyways. In fact the first track "Storm" doesn't necessarily conjure up meteorological connotations at all but makes me think of a colony of ants marching into a spiraled funnel. The rhythm is so steady and the variations occur at the speed of molasses flowing down a cone. The music starts out in a 3/3 waltz timing and somewhere along the intensity divide changes course into a 4/4 time signature as the tempo slowly gets faster and faster.

This album is amazing in how it combines elements of post-rock with ambient passages, classical chamber rock and plunderphonic sound samplings. Not unlike their other albums, it simply takes all those elements and adds on more. The soft parts are even more lush and ambient, the heavy parts are faster and louder and all seems to have the ability to take you on a limitless parade of sound that only ends arbitrarily for the sake of having to end the album. The melodic progressions are minimal while the subtle variations that ratchet the crescendos remind me more of the minimalist classical music of Terry Riley in how it's composed. The music of GODSPEED is very hard to write about since this is a kind of music that is highly subjective in how it affects the listener at any given moment. As many times as i've listened to this I am always amazed at how little is going on musically and yet how much is going on musically. It always leaves me a little perplexed as to why I like this yet I always end up realizing that I do. As with any successful type of avant-garde music it demands that the listener questions their very definition of what music is and with this release it pushes the boundaries even further. All I can say is that your fists don't have to be skinny to enjoy this one but even though it doesn't sound like anything you would hear in heaven it certainly gives a glimpse into another dimension where heaven might be a bit nearer.

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 Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada E.P. by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1999
4.40 | 155 ratings

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Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada E.P.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

5 stars The 2nd release from GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR is the SLOW RIOT FOR NEW ZERO KANADA E.P. which continues the crushing bleak apocalyptic atmospheres that shocked the world on their debut. Stylistically this is basically in the same vein but a little more refined and half the length. The packaging is rather confusing as it makes no indication to the name of the band or tracks and the cover is graced only by Hebrew that translates into "formless and empty," a title that brings to mind the post-apocalyptic world of a dead and lifeless landscape.

The first track "Moya" is the shortest of the two and sounds like the bleakest chamber rock of "Heresie" era Univers Zero with additional post-rock accompaniments. It winds and wends throughout the now established slow and organically reached climax that GODSPEED created on the debut before mellowing out and ceding to the longer second track...

" BBF3" is the longer track which is notable for using the lyrics from the song "Virus" by Iron Maiden. The joke seems to be that the guy being interviewed, who is the same one as the debut is named Blaise Bailey Finnegan III and thus the lyrics of "Virus" were from the lineup with Blaze Bayley as vocalist. A little humor amongst the otherwise humorless music is an unexpected extra here. The music unfolds its sound as the others do with the repetitive riffs giving birth to new sounds slowly emerging to a fully more climatic ending.

Only so much you can say about this type of music. It is all about the spectral experience of the mood set forth by the guitars, bass, drums, cello and violin trying to extract every ounce of melancholy there is to be had. A very well done and enigmatic little EP they have created here and one that rightfully deserves the popularity and praise that it has earned. Clocking in at less than 30 minutes it graciously releases you from its grip so you can put on something more uplifting like possibly the soundtrack to "Schindler's List."

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 F# A# ∞ by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.03 | 310 ratings

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

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars After taking their name from a Japanese documentary about a biker gang called the Black Emperors, GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR took some of the ideas laid down by Slint on their highly influential album "Spiderland" and ran away with them creating some seriously epic sounding music on their debut F♯A♯∞ which is pronounced F-sharp, A-sharp, Infinity and refers to the keys in which each side of the vinyl LP begins and to the endless loop at the end. The first time I heard this it screamed soundtrack and an apocalyptic one at that, so it was no surprise to learn that this strange melancholic chamber music that makes me think of a world of death and destruction where cockroaches, rats and pigeons will finally have their day, was a major influence on Danny Boyle's post-apocalyptic thriller "28 Days Later." A little bit of "The Sad Mafioso" appears in the film.

This is some very strange music indeed. It takes the term post-rock and really expands its boundaries by incorporating not only the Slint influenced eschatological field recordings that originated from the unfinished screenplay written by guitarist Efrim Menuck to usher in the bleak atmosphere that sets the stage for the lugubriousness to come, but in addition to the standard post-rock of the day, GYBE incorporates everything from a spaghetti western feel to surf rock to musique concrete and free jazz. But what mostly this reminds me of the RIO chamber music usually associated with the likes of Univers Zero or Henry Cow in terms of mood modifying tonalities and mind-numbing darkness.

The number of musicians here is quite impressive and the three lengthy tracks that really don't have any set musical form just move like a liquid flowing down a hill bending to the curves of the land and only a slave to the gravitational forces that steer them. The gravitational pull in this music all revolves around the fact that anything is fair game as long as it leads to the most abysmal, catastrophic and doom-laden. Repeated listens are necessary in order for this to soak in because there is not much to latch onto in terms of memorable musical segments. This album really has the effect of taking me out of an intellectualism towards the music and evokes the emotional response mechanism of the brain, a technique that post-rock aims to achieve and GYBE more than does so on this fascinating debut. With this release GYBE created a new standard for this type of music to be compared with and it rarely gets more original than what is presented here.

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 Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.11 | 404 ratings

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

Review by Roundabot

5 stars First released on: riversofreverb.blogspot.dk

Godspeed You Black Emperor! is a band like no other. Being one of the pioneering bands in the post-rock genre, their music is different than probably any band that is considered part of this genre. Their symphonies succeed in creating the atmosphere of a post- apocalyptic world, a mental picture of a desolated earth where nothing grows anymore and life is just a memory of the past. Beginning with their debut album F♯ A♯ ∞ (1997) they have been known for their long-scaled compositions, their long build-ups, their use of classical instruments, drone guitars and tape recorded speeches.

Their second album though, is a work of epic proportions, even for GYBE standards. Lift Your Skinny Fists like Antennas to Heaven (2000) is not only GYBE's longest and most ambitious album, being a double album composed of only four 'songs' (they would be better called movements or compositions), it is also probably their most complete one. It is a career defining effort for the Canadian band, being heralded by most since it was released as the band's masterpiece and as a classic post-rock record.

The music found in this album features some of the most intense and varied feelings, even when the general tone is somber. From sheer happiness in the beginning of Storm all the way through the hopeless desperation at the end of Antennas to Heaven, it encompasses some of the most powerful buildups, transitions and melodies the band has ever written. They work together to create a sense of completion, as if the album as a whole is trying to make a point about the human experience in its entirety.

Even without lyrics, it can be said that in their work, GYBE show clearly how poignant a band they can be regarding current social and political events, having had problems themself in the US in the wake of the War on Terror. LYSFLATH is probably their less political album though, not having any politically charged messages such as earlier albums had, like the introduction of The Dead Flag Blues in their debut or the one in BBF3 from their sophomore EP Slow Riot for NewZer' Kanada (1999).

The theme of the album seems to revolve around the most sentimental side of their mostly anarchist worldview rather than on the intellectual side of it. Even when they get more political in the recording they use as an introduction to Sleep, clearly a criticism of savage progress in the wake of the new millennium, it appeals more to the emotions of the listener rather than trying to enrage him into action. It's that change of direction which gives LYSFLATH its soulful nature; its mysterious and magical appeal.

GYBE wear their heart on their sleeves on this album. Sometimes it even seems like they are begging for people's understanding, as in the ending of Storm or in the whole Sleep, the saddest and most heartfelt composition on the album. They also succeed in creating the paranoid, almost schizophrenic atmosphere of the times the album was released, with the fear of terrorist attacks and the new millennium coming. The mid-section of Storm and the outstanding Static are the best examples for this.

Although the compositions work as a whole, they are each divided in different sections. Some of this sections are the whole base on which this movements stand upon. Take for example the achingly gorgeous She Dreamt She Was a Bulldozer, She Dreamt She Was Alone in an Empty Field. It opens with some of the most beautiful violins on the whole album followed by the band playing the most urgent section ever recorded by the band. It ends with a build-up that sounds like a dirge for lost hope, the kind of melody you hear in your head when there's nothing left to do.

Other highlight sections are the cheerful Lift Yr. Skinny Fists, Like Antennas to Heaven..., with its horns and victorious drums, opening the album with a blast, or the nerve-wracking World Police and Friendly Fire which builds up to a wonderfully noisy and apocalyptic explosion of sound. The musical peak of LYSFLATH comes with the melancholic Broken Windows, Locks of Love Pt. III which ends Sleep with a highly complex and instrumentally rich section. This section alone defines perfectly what GYBE's music is, with all its diverse nuances.

One of the main characteristics that have been attached to this band is how cinematic it is, to the point of GYBE being described as 'cinematic post-rock'. Throughout this album in particular you can't help picturing different images whenever a build-up comes, or a tape recorded speech or noise, or when the main melodies kick. Even in the quietest moments of the album, the sense of it being the soundtrack for an unwritten movie about life itself doesn't fade until the last screeching sounds of Antennas to Heaven.

In the end it is probably the soundtrack for all of our lives, for the whole society we are living in. The question that's being asked here is: Where do we go now? What's next? The album leaves no answer, just a final cry for help to make sense of all this. Maybe a baby inside its mother's womb or the heart of the earth itself, the final sounds of Antennas to Heaven end the most desperate composition of the album, and the album itself in a mysterious note.

Probably the album makes more sense following the events that came to be just one year after its release. They left some with no hope or tomorrow to look forward to, and others with the gargantuan task of living through all the ashes and pain left. Still the amount of questions just increased since that moment, leaving this album as a testament of life in the last days leading to the moment when we were pushed a little bit further into the abyss.

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 Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.11 | 404 ratings

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

Review by Dobermensch

4 stars The year 2000 was the perfect release date for this slab of doom. 'Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven' sounds like the accumulation of all 20th Century history squashed into one 90 minute double album. And despite being without vocals packs a mighty punch.

An incredibly sad and non uplifting album which occasionally sounds more like an artistic statement than a musical one. Unfortunately my eyebrows frown throughout this every time I hear it. All I can think on is death. This recording gives me seriously bad thoughts of WW1 and WW2.

This is one of those albums that genuinely brings me down. The most masterful thing the band achieve in this recording is the fact that they so easily tap into the extremes of human emotion. And by God, is this an emotional album. Every time I hear it I feel like the end of the world is about to happen. It really is that upsetting. Not good...

An emotionally wrought album which I only occasionally play to due to the slabs of concrete pressing down on my shoulders and crushing my skull as I listen.I still don't know if it's the chords used or the radio footage - but this really hurts my soul.

It's still undoubtedly a thing of beauty for those who can see past war.

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 Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.59 | 102 ratings

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

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A decade ago the GY!BE nonet entered limbo after releasing arguably the purest expression of their nocturnal Post Rock sound, in the enigmatic "Yanqui U.X.O." album. With nothing else left to say, why waste any more time trying to say it?

A lot of imitators have come and gone in those ten years, and the style of music they championed has long been codified (I almost wrote 'embalmed'). But now the dormant Godspeed has awakened, and reclaimed its spot at the top of the Post Rock pyramid.

What's immediately apparent in the new album is a resurgence of energy, with an emphasis on heavier rock dynamics. In classic fashion the album presents a pair of typically epic 20- minute workouts, alternating with two brief soundscapes adrift in dark ambient waters. The format hasn't changed dramatically, including the inscrutable cover art and track titles (I'm willing to bet something named "Strung Like Lights at Thee Printemps Erable" would only make sense to a native Québcéois). But in no way does the new CD simply regurgitate past glories.

Expect some inspired, otherworldly drones and dynamic neo-Krautrock grooves, oppressive and uplifting at the same time. The escalating motorik rhythms and walls of noise in "Mladic" (named after the Serbian war criminal?) and "We Drift Like Worried Fire" are spellbinding, the former standing out as possibly the single most awesome piece of music ever penned by this very loud outfit. And the weird burst of what sounds like an army of crazed Tibetan lamas having a percussion fest at the end of the track offers further evidence of the band's willingness to sack and pillage new musical worlds.

The album works best when placed in the context of the band's entire recorded career, in chronological order. Heard that way, "'Allelujah!" is not only a thrilling comeback, but a decisive late-inning victory: a masterpiece patiently waiting to be acknowledged as such. 4.99 stars, anyone?

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