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A Silver Mt. Zion - The Pretty Little Lightning Paw  E.P. CD (album) cover


A Silver Mt. Zion

Post Rock/Math rock

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3 stars Not a bad EP but not one without flaws. The first track is the most interesting. Don't let the giddy yells put you off because when it gets going there is some really nice music here. This is a lot more guitar based than any of the other works i have heard by A Silver Mt Zion. This track uses multi-layered sounds and uplifting moods to it's advantage and is probably the best and noisiest offering on this EP.

"Microphones in the Trees" has some amazing bass work in it but the vocals are pretty much inaudible. This track has some good stuff but I often end up losing interest after a while as it can get a bit repetitive. However it does have a rather beautiful climax which is worth hearing. Perhaps this track is a bit too long but overall it is a great track, very patience demanding.

The title track is the longest offering on this EP. Offering some similar sounds and structures. Another flaw with this track is that it can often fall flat and become boring. I know that post rock is demanding and requires a lot of patience but I find less to keep me pulled in with the lengthier tracks on this EP.

The final track is a promising departure, showing off a very dark and gloomy mood. The majority of this track goes for quite a minimalist approach but builds up rather nicely. "The Pretty Little Lightning Paw" EP is overall quite a puzzling release. It is unclear why the band haven't decided to expand on this and make it a full length album. This EP is rather unique, showing off a whole new side to A Silver Mt Zion's music, which is why they went under a different name (Thee Silver Mountain Reveries). Overall it is quite confusing why this EP was made the way it was. It is also unclear whether Thee Silver Mountain Reveries was just a one off experiment or if they will go furthur to make more releases but for the bands newest album they converted back to A Silver Mt Zion.

This EP is not for everyone. I would suggest starting with one of the full length albums. The music here is not bad, yet not the best works I have heard from this band. Approach with caution.

Report this review (#41179)
Posted Monday, August 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars Silver Mt Zion is an offshoot project from postrock leading group GYBE! (at least in recent years , they seem to have overtaken Tortoise but have been passed by Sigur Ros), but with a shoeter line-up and clear sung vocals! I personally found their debut more in the line of GYBE! , but this EP is heading in a more constructed music scheme.

Most conventional progheads not particularly well introduced to the post-rock scene may find this EP a good introduction , because of the afore-mentioned song structures bur also mellotrons sounds. The two lenghtier tracks are clearly the "meat" of the album and are loaded with melancholy worthy of Scandinavian bands , but one can clearly see where GYBE! is the main project , because the climaxes of those twotracks are typical of them.

Again , though , I am puzzled at the value of this music in terms of history in a few decades from now, as the music is clearly not standing repitious listenings; I also find a bit irritating that all post-rock bands discuss very rarely of themeaning of their music , preferring the "music do the talking for them": this has for unfortunate side effects for the unitiated (I'd like to think I do not rank into that category) thinking that the music is not saying much either........... Hence........... the purpose of the music..............

Pleasant anyway , but it will probably spina few times in the beginning , but it will soon be forgotten

Report this review (#54120)
Posted Monday, October 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Formed by Godspeedyou! Black emperor, this project combines with a certain pleasure rather sinister, emotional acoustic soundscapes to post rock. The result presents introspect, pessimistic and painful pieces with some reminiscence of Philip Glass (in the melodic repetitive motifs, I'm particularly referring to "Microphones in the Trees" which makes echoes to "songs from liquid days"). The voices are mixed together and add a desperate tone to the ensemble. Not at all their rockiest moment but quiet, beautiful moody, simplistic compositions. A coherent, atmospheric work but slightly naive and boring after several listenings.
Report this review (#83315)
Posted Monday, July 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Sophie Trudeau (or at least I guess it’s her) takes up where the last album left off with her somewhat annoying voice, ranting about an ‘action committee’ meeting at the beginning of the first song. Not sure why that was necessary. But the rest of this EP takes a definite turn in the right direction after the rather listless ‘This is our punk rock’ album that preceded it.

The guitar/drums/guitar riff that gets laid down on “More Action! Less Tears!” is repeated pretty much without variation for the whole song, but for some reason it works here. Probably because the strings do their dancing all around the rhythm and give the song an anxious and rather expectant feel to it. By the end the band has my attention and I’m actually looking forward to hear what comes next. That and Efrim Menuck doesn’t sing, which is a plus.

The band is back to shorter songs after the somewhat disappointing experiment on ‘This is our punk rock’, with “More Action!” and “Microphones In The Trees” both coming in under ten minutes. “Microphones…” features Menuck’s singing again, but here he is intentionally echoing and modulating his voice courtesy of the the 24-track analog recording panel that captured this album. The lyrics are a bit obscure here as usual, but Menuck isn’t as annoying as usual at least. The Polyphonic Spree/dangerous cult chorale effect comes in on this one, much like on their album from the year before, but here this is only a short passage in an otherwise mostly sonic mood music composition. I actually have this track on a compilation CD that I keep in the car for long drives where I want to stay awake but don’t really want to have to think very hard. It’s that kind of music.

The title track is also the longest on the album, clocking in a one second over ten minutes, although it could have been much shorter. It seems the band has taken the tack on this album of coming up with a kind of appealing riff or two, and simply repeating them as a base from which to operate for the rest of the song. It works for the most part, except that the variations are sometimes not all that interesting. That’s especially true of this song, where the dissonant strings kind if lose their appeal very quickly. The goofy bird noises aren’t all that necessary either, but they aren’t actually annoying so I guess I shouldn’t complain. This is as close to an actual cult-recruiting chant song as anything the band has or will do. I simply can’t get the Polyphonic Spree or the Moonies out of my head any time I hear Menuck chanting and the rest of the band harmonizing behind him. I wonder if there’s some wacky group of outcasts living in a bunker somewhere playing this for their evening self-flagellation-and-snake-handling service. Probably.

All of the songs on this album just kind of wind down to a disinterested finish too, which isn’t particularly disappointing, it’s just a bit disappointing. So I guess it is. Never mind, skip this part.

I actually really like “There's A River In The Valley…”, I just didn’t expect it on a Mt. Zion album. This sounds like some of the bands from the late eighties who tried to take what were basically old folk, bluegrass, or country tunes and rockercise them, usually complete with spacey synthesizers and altered vocals. That’s what is happening here. I can’t remember the names of any of those bands off the top of my head, probably because they pretty much sucked. This song doesn’t though, and the difference is that every single one of these musicians is actually supremely talented, and the quality of every note played shows through. This is a little bit depressing, and the echo on the vocals could have been toned down a bit. But overall this sets a really rustic and expectant mood, and every time I play it I just feel a little bit better about our chances as a human race. Go figure.

This is a definite improvement over the ‘This is our punk rock’ recording, but fails to quite measure up to the band’s debut in terms of complexity, variety, or sense of purpose. It’s a pretty good album though, and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s looking for mood music that isn’t too depressing and has a high sonic quality. Three stars.


Report this review (#96113)
Posted Saturday, October 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Thee Silver Mountain Reveries are what happens when the regular members of A Silver Mt Zion swap their instruments around and play a rawer, rockier, almost punkier (as with the intro to More Action! Less Tears!) style of post-rock from what fans of the band are used to. It's a neat little experiment, and whilst I think it would begin to wear if stretched over the length of a full album as a half hour EP it's an interesting alternate twist on A Silver Mt. Zion's sound. It seems that when Godspeed You Black Emperor went into its long slumber the Mt. Zion side project picked up most of the creative slack, and Pretty Little Lightning Paw sees them continuing their run of excellent albums.
Report this review (#668374)
Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Microphones in the Trees!

An excellent release from Silver Mt Zion, this EP contains four great tracks that do a good job at encapsulating their sound in the mid-2000s. Like their first album, this one contains no drummer, but instead uses repeated percussion sounds and quiet drum machines selectively in their place on some of the tracks. The title track is one of the more notable pieces, both here and of their repertoire in general. But it is "Microphones in the Trees" that is the real stand-out track. Built around a 5/4 bass/cello line that modulates between four chords in repeated pattern, it starts quiet and builds to a climax backed by pointed political lyrics and eery rising/sawing violins. The melody is highly memorable and the song will stick with you. Check out this EP version, and then check out the amazing 2008 live version from Lees Palace in Toronto (available on youtube). Just amazing. The other two tunes on this release are good, but not quite essential, making the overall rating of this one 7.7 out of 10, which is just shy of 4 PA stars. So, high 3 PA stars.

Report this review (#1706978)
Posted Friday, March 31, 2017 | Review Permalink

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