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F# A# ∞

Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Post Rock/Math rock

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor F# A# ∞ album cover
4.14 | 472 ratings | 51 reviews | 42% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1997

Songs / Tracks Listing

1.Nervous, Sad, Poor... (20:43) :
- a) The Dead Flag Blues (Intro) (6:09)
- b) Slow Moving Trains (3:23)
- c) The Cowboy... (4:16)
- d) Drugs in Tokyo (3:29)
- e) The Dead Flag Blues (Outro) (1:52)
- f) (untitled segment) (1:34)
2. Bleak, Uncertain, Beautiful... (17:40) :
- a) '...Nothing's Alrite in Our Life...'/Dead Flag Blues (Reprise) (2:00)
- b) The Sad Mafioso... (5:33)
- c) Kicking Horse on Brokenhill (5:36)
- d) String Loop Manufactured During Downpour... (4:29)

Total Time: 37:83

Track List on CD editions:

1. The Dead Flag Blues (16:27) :
- i) The Dead Flag Blues (Intro) (6:37)
- ii) Slow Moving Trains/The Cowboy (7:50)
- iii) The Dead Flag Blues (Outro) (2:00)
2. East Hastings (17:58):
- i) "...Nothing's Alrite In Our Life..."/Dead Flag Blues (Reprise) (1:35)
- ii) The Sad Mafioso (10:44)
- iii) Drugs In Tokyo/Black Helicopter (5:39)
3. Providence (29:04):
- i) Divorce & Fever (2:44)
- ii) Dead Metheny (8:07)
- iii) Kicking Horse On Broken Hill (5:53)
- iv) String Loop Manufactured During Downpour (4:36)
- v) (silence) (3:32)
- vi) J.L.H. Outro (hidden track) (4:08)

Total Time: 63:29

Line-up / Musicians

- David Bryant / guitar
- Efrim Menuck / guitar
- Mike Moya / guitar, banjo
- Norsola Johnson / cello
- Christophe / violin
- Thea Pratt / French horn
- Thierry Amar / bass guitar
- Mauro Pezzente / bass guitar
- Aidan Girt / drums
- Bruce Cawdron / percussion

- Jessica Moss / violin
- Brian Cram / trumpet
- Grayson Walker / accordion
- Amanda Aronczyk / ?
- Dan Owen / ?
- Colin / ?
- Peter / ?
- Shnaeberg / ?
- Sylvain / ?

Releases information

Artwork: John Arthur Tinholt

LP Constellation ‎- CST 003 (1997, Canada)

CD Kranky ‎- KRANK 027 (1998, US) Remastered and changed in some areas, with some new material, and some material missing from LP original release.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR F# A# ∞ ratings distribution

(472 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(42%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (11%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
5 stars Another excellent album full of their existential Morricone-esque soundscapes and tonal hypnotic themes. GODSPEED work in completely their own musical space where we hear desolate guitar twang, echoey dobro slide, sweetly mournful violin and cello, and an astonishingly patient rhythm section. F# A# [Infinity] is essentially 3 wild and long tracks with a full barrage of musical allusions captuing that temporal nebula we all stive to find in music (we do don't we ?). Even some nice bagpipes for my wife ! ESSENTIAL..!

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars 4.5 stars really. Although all of the albums of GYBE! are good , this first album is the utmost original as the following ones only repeat the formula albeit more refined. I have a tendency to couple this debut with the EP second release as my favourite one. It is always disturbing to see that a group is not giving more info about itself or its music and is maintaining this "flou artistique " that we as progheads find derangesome . My fellow reviewers describe acurately the music especially James with the astonishingly patient rythm section.

GYBE! is seen now as the leading group in this strange current of music called Post-Rock and somewhat give a new meaning to that music genre: The Post Atomic Rock . Some of the climaxes have all the drama of an atomic explosion and the quieter moments are sometimes so gloomy (and tearingly beautiful ) that it feels just like the survivors of the blast are gathering what they can .

A real must hear and listen and hunting down and acquiring for fans of unconventional music. From my experiences , most neo-prog fans (at least the ones I know ) do not really endorse this band as the constant mayhem seem to disturb them.

Review by frenchie
5 stars Godspeed You Black Emperor! the band name, album name and track titles don't give away anything about what kind of music is on the disc and leaves the listener without a clue what to expect, very cleverly. I was expecting total weird music like pink floyd meets soundchaser meets radiohead. I guess this music is very weird yet it is also very formal, beautiful and splendidly orchestrated and arranged.

This music is full out, progressive expansive instrumental pieces using a lovely array of instruments to create a progressive and almost spacey sound which is very multi layered and professional. I see a strong Mike Oldfield influence in this band and similar concept ideas. Each piece on this album has a slow build up that gradually gets more and more layered until it explodes into a great finale before it travels to the next movement within the suite or next track. Each track normally has an epic climax too.

This album, along with their others are very gentle and relaxed. They demand lots of patience but i see it as great music to have on in the background. The music they have created is very daring and is really one of a kind. There is so much beauty in the vision they have created. The band combine their pieces with voices over the top of the music raising interesting messages. "The Dead Flag Blues" has an incredible monologue that narrates most of the track with some very touching and honest subjects mentioned. It fits in well and doesn't spoil the music at all. It really adds to the dark ambience of the piece and adds drama to the album. A brilliant opening. The looming basslines and ebow/violin parts deserve a lot of credit to for fueling this track along. I see this as one of the most defining post rock tunes.

This piece then travels into the next movement which starts with a train horn. "East Hastings" ends with some really eerie sounds which i found were a strong highlight on the album. "Providence", lasting half an hour long, is one of the strongest pieces and progresses well. It has strong talk about a preacher man and the end of the world too so you can really learn a lot from this music!

There isn't really any general parts of each track that i can directly pinpoint and comment on. It really needs to be taken in as a whole. I know this kind of music isn't for everyone but i strongly urge people to be daring and give anything by this band a listen as it is very rewarding and beautiful. Its not one of those things you might want to listen to all the time but just one listen will satisfy any listener and let people see how good this band are.

"F#A#00" is quite a defining post rock release. This was one of the very first major post rock genre releases which came out even before the stereotypical post rock cardboard gatefold cd holders. "F#A#" is most definetly my favourite GYBE! album and one that i find to be a landmark post rock album.

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The debut of the Canadian ensemble is much like the albums that were to come, quiet parts that reach a hectic climax and then recede to another quiet moment. On this album, the presentation of said attribute is very well done. The intrumental bombastic-ness is impressive, and it takes a bit for the music to sink in, but overall I was given an awe- inspiring experience. The violins mix well with the guitar and bass during the quiet sections, and the textured guitar tones fit well with the rest of the cast of instruments during the hectic sections.

It is too hard to describe all of the tracks, so I'll describe my favorite one on the album. The Dead Flag Blues is an utterly perfect track to me, with sultry spoken vocals in the beginning, to the ghostly choir in the middle, to the bells near the end. It all mixes together and creates the perfect environment.

Overall, I feel that this album is a great start, and more excellent material was to follow. 4.5/5.

Review by Philo
4 stars When most acts, regardless of genre, were eating themselves up and running the same tired formula into the ground there were a few acts forming something a bit more exclusive. In the time of fast living and short attention spans Godspeed You Black Emperor! surprizingly worked. And I suppose because at the time it was a much needed shot in arm, if only to escape the nothingness that surrounded it. The dense fat lengthy orchestrated tunes were curious, hypnotic and engaging, slowed down the melancholic pace opened the mind, you could roll a joint while becoming saturated in the intro of any piece as it grew and became condensed into the atmosphere. The music grew. If anything the only negative I had with F# A# oo was the political narrative behind and which inspired some of the music, but I could forget that and deal with it as best I could, I much prefer my music to be as apolitical as possible. There was a time when albums and their cover artwork somehow combined together and gelled to form one, you could almost taste the music from the cover so to speak. For the first time in a very long while the cover of F# A# oo spoke to me and told me of the story that could be contained within if I was only eager to venture.
Review by ClemofNazareth
5 stars A few years ago I was sitting in my office working at my desk with the radio playing quietly behind me. It was tuned to a local college station that I like to listen to during the day because they play a lot of eclectic music, and it helps pass the day. At some point I found myself just kind of mesmerized, almost as if I was in some kind of trance. I was just zoned out, and after a while I was jarred back to reality by this exploding whirl of noises coming out of the radio. To put it mildly – I was blown away! I think I saw God.

I called the radio station to ask the guy what he had just played, but unfortunately he must have been taking a crap or something because I just got an answering machine, so I looked up the station and sent them an email. A couple days later I got a reply with the playlist from that morning’s show. Turns out what caught me so off guard was the crescendo from “Providence” that peaks about halfway during that song. This was my first introduction to Godspeed You Black Emperor!

Since then I’ve picked up F# A# Infinity, Lift Your Skinny Fists…, and Yanqui U.X.O., and each work is progressively better and more seductive than the one before it, but “Providence” ranks today as one of my ten or twelve favorite songs ever by any band. The creativity, sense of musical exploration, and most importantly – the patience that went into creating this work of art are just incredible. This album somehow manages to sound completely raw, and yet infinitely calculated at the same time. Whatever this kind of music is, it is above all the highest form of expressive art.

I rarely comment on packaging of CDs, as they are almost never as interesting as the old vinyl albums sleeves used to be. But this one actually reveals a bit about the band, even though the musicians and their instruments are never really identified beyond the comment “16 rented tracks moving 7.5 inches per second into ampex456 W/OUT ANY KEYBOARDS”, buried in a rambling story about (apparently) the history behind the recording of the album, and a string of first names under the heading “godspeed you black emperor! (1995-1998)”. The story is about the band’s haphazard effort to put together the album (unless they are just making the whole thing up), and the various sketches and clippings surrounded by a starkly written divorce petition typed onto tissue paper actually are a good reflection of the type of music contained on the CD. It is all interesting, seemingly unrelated, and somewhat abstract even though each represents a concrete object or idea.

The “Dead Flag Blues” wanders along at an almost maddeningly slow pace, with the deep drawl of the narrator recounting a story about nothing much in particular. This has a southern, almost country feel to it, and is bleak and depressing, although I’ve never managed to play the whole thing through without giving it pretty much my entire focus of attention. The xylophone or whatever is making the tinny bell-like sounds at the end manage to convey either a sense of hope, or at least resigned contentment. I’ve no idea what this song is about (if anything), and I don’t want to spoil it by doing any research to find out.

“East Hastings” is I believe a neighborhood in Vancouver, and the bagpipes that lead into this song, along with the French guy rambling in the background (I guess he’s French – it’s Vancouver anyway) evokes a neighborhood scene, probably along the shoreline among the freighters and seagulls. It’s very dismal and at the same time, serene. At some point the music starts to wander into the picture, dominated by a whining guitar picking out a sad tune, with what I guess is a violin keeping time with the drum in the background. By around the twelfth minute of this there is a kind of crescendo of percussion and guitar, followed by some really creepy – well, I don’t know what they are, but the watery sound and echoing in the background further establishes this as a waterway scene. The whole thing ends up sounding like some air raid sirens with a diving fighter plane coming in for the kill. Plenty here to use your imagination on.

“Providence” is pretty much what I said before, a half-hour of scattered sounds – blustery conversation between strangers (“so says the preacher man, but I don’t go by what he says”), and some lonely strings augmented by drums, horns, guitar, whatever else the guys brought into the studio, building up to a peak and then dropping off into near silence. Then the part I spaced out on – guitars brass and steel and drums working up a frenzied crescendo that gets me doing the air-maestro with conviction every time I hear it.

Fade back to muffled silence, and it all starts over again for another ten minutes or so, building up to a peak once again before fading away in the fog. This alone is worth the price of admission.

Soul-cleansing stuff. Damn brilliant.

So you get the point.

I just love this album, even though it takes some real energy and a certain melancholic mood to really get into, so it’s not something you can (or probably should) play often. By the time Lift Your Skinny Fists… comes around, the group has polished their sound somewhat, and the arrangements are far more predictable than on F# A#. These are great to play as well, as their sophistication can be enjoyed over and over, almost without end.

But this is the first and most endearing of the Godspeed albums so far. Like I said, “Providence” alone is worth the cost of the CD, and “Dead Flag Blues” is probably the most striking introduction of a band since Marillion launched “Market Square Heroes”.

I’d love to give this one five stars – it really is a brilliant piece of work. The only drawback is that this is not an album you’ll play a thousand times – it’s just not quite that accessible. So I’ll settle for four stars for now, although reserve the right to amend this as the mood suits me.


P.S. The mood suited me on August 15th, 2006. Five stars.

F&*king brilliant!

Review by Ricochet
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Although my horizon in progressive rock music is relatively short and I am, to be sincere, close-minded concerning new artists, new music, new form of movement, acknowledging or thinking of introducing myself to Godspeed You Black Emperor! wasn't the same reticence manner I normally "use". In fact, immediately after I found myself in the perspective of trying them (recommended by a friend of mine), I accepted the thought. That it took some time for the thought to materialize, that's another story. Anyway, everything went for Godspeed entering my collection and my musical universe. And the decisive moment when I realized what a fabulous decision I've made came not after my first Godspeed You Black Emperor! experience, nor in the moment of listening, but right before everything, when I first held it in my hand, ready to play it. For I felt unimaginable shivers. Like solid divine dangerous, even deadly if not carefully handled material is inside it. The engraved name on the side, F#a#∞, terrified me. The image of the cover, slick, slumber, petrified me. The scribbling on the back, a personal shock. I felt its power, its force, and its nature through my rising rhythm of the heart. I looked at it with respect, fear, and will of devotion. But even this spirit(ual) thrill (which, by the way, really happened!; I'm not just playing with words) was nothing caompared to the listening hour, in which I've had so many euforical strokes in so many moments, I can't even remember. I was dead, but my spirit was blistering of emotions and immaterial sensations. The world, the definition of matter was dead and irrelevant, but music was alive, as the pulse was as well. I believe Schopenhauer said that "music is the objectivity of the desire, as immediate as the universe itself."

Godspeed You Black Emperor! defy time and space, weak matter and flawed skin, the sound that ends at a point and the impression that doesn't last long, the earthly "orthodox" dream, the casual flow of things, the conformist mood, the white sky and its God. The Godspeed move is so separate and so special. I'm not foreign from the modern of contemporary times, whether it is a "vintage" artist's work, perpetuated until now, or a new breeze of style and of music contribution. And the definition of modern has several universal way of presentation. Yet I can say that what Godspeed presented, imposed, elaborated and defined is something out of boundaries, something I've rarely seen or experienced. The fact that currently they are the only vision regarding the genre I have can perhaps reflect my words as something exaggerated, but I am almost certain that musically Godspeed you Black Emperor! are something revolutionary, out of dimension and purpose, beyond visualized scenery or a dreamed relation. Because the feeling of this cannot be deceiving or wrong. The feeling of insane euphoria, of divine quality and challenging to the extreme of the word manifestation. The sensation of different, in its most surreal and outstanding form. Godspeed speaks my language. And I adore it.

F#a#∞ is an amazing album (and an amazing debut, of course, making of the Godspeed expression knowledge from the beginning), a refined illustration and a conception that gives you goose bumps. For the universe of this is condensed into the moment of the end of all, an end that's nebulous, extremely subliminal, apocalyptic and heavily clustered. The world is no longer matter, there's only one fragment concentrated, music is everything, music is life and death, but it is music of lament, of shivering cold, of sophisticated slumber, and it's a message of chords that go into shaking the soul and killing the forms of exterior. It's all about signs, about spontaneous effect or long, everlasting echoes, of sadness and of perspective into darkness, of fallen grace in beautiful aromas of shadows, chimeras and immaterial thoughts. It's not the inferno, but the heaven of crows, of fluxes, of spirit that compose ideas. It's not the interpretations of doomsday, but it is the dynamic of something constantly directed towards nothingness. It is an image of a faceless portrait, of elements and outlines that don't belong to the definition we know, we accept, we live with. Metempsychosis. Emphases of shuddering scales. The cover sets a black reverie, suspense moment and a view in the abyssal phenomenon. And the narration engraves and expressive succumbed plane and a distressing scenario. The mood is prepared, maintained, raised and climaxed so fascinating, going shockwave after shockwaves. And then comes the master-music, the three chapters of the passionate dark play. In a sublime, refined, over-ecstatic and self-educated way, the Godspeed crew creates ample interpretation, with magic artistic moves, with understanding towards details and moves and everything that need distinguished reason, with correlations towards a work done for satisfaction, for self-realization and for long name of art written as brand and as motto; the utter sounds- the motive that creates the album's utopia; the manipulated, experimented, conserved sound that reaches towards the highest point possible. And they create the moment of slumber feat and squelched pain; and we look into the eye of the disaster and into the colorless flames of the silent apocalyptic movement. And it's completely marvelous. For they've captured the essence and the spirit; they've reached their message; they've made their way. And the rule is one.and the effects are so many. Infinity here is pure absurdity or pure revelation. Infinity is a single composition that leads into a lack of breath. And the true beyond is the moment of complete silence in Providence. Even that is part of the blood's flow. Even that strikes both the impossible and the reachable. A genuine poem this F#a#∞. An album of emotions, but of staggering quality and precise construction of darkness as well. A work of art that consumes the listener. There is a mood, of course, needed to make out of the experience pure shuddering delight. For this masterliness music is certainly not for anyone's moment of attraction, but a constant communication with the one in settled resonance. What I've expressed in this long paragraph (a special way I prefer in reviewing Godspeed You Black Emperor!) is what I have experienced (general descriptions are of course present, not leaving out the objective critic.). My way of seeing this outstanding F#a#∞. The way.


Review by Prog-jester
4 stars If I'd begin with this one,it would probably be my favourite.But sorry... Anyway,Infinity traces the pathy,which has lead the band to such masterpieces as Slow Roit and Lift your skinny fists (haven't heard Yanqui U.X.O. yet,but going to).The same moody atmosphere, frightening strings and apocalyptical samples,the voices of angels and the noises right from hell.A musthave for every GYBE and post-rock fan,and just a good album for other Prog genres' admirers - I advice you to begin with either Slow Riot or Lift your skinny fists. The main awesome thing about it is a cover art-work.When I think if GYBEit is the first comes to my mind.The best from the whole post-rock!!! ;-)
Review by OpethGuitarist
4 stars A quest unlike any other.

This being my first review of other Godspeed albums to come, I must admit that it is a fairly difficult and daunting process to describe the essence of this band and its legion of followers and imitators. I find this album to be the bands best artistically although not as polished say as Skinny Fists. Be that as it may, there is an undeniable quality about this record, and all of their albums, and its difficult to fully realize as a listener, taking at least three or four unadulterated listens, if not hundreds for the really avid fans out there to truly describe these elaborate pieces.

All of the songs use beginning narration to give a setting to the eventual "story", if you want to call it that, that will unfold in the song. I also believe their is a unique dualism of the disparaging quality of some of the narrations and some of the uplifting qualities of the music itself.

Dead Flag Blues begins with a narrator who has given up hope. We are brought into passages without sensible form or structure. The passages move gracefully and fully as one holistic body. It is not as extensively played out as I would have liked (even at 17 minutes) but overall is a solid piece.

East Hastings is my least favorite track here, and also the most abysmal/hopeless sounding track. Much of the middle I am disenchanted with and it's the one track that seemingly "goes nowhere" while still taking me on a quasi-ride/experiment. The end with the fall of fighter planes is very surreal and perhaps the best aspect of the track, providing added visualization and even terror for some.

Providence is my favorite Godspeed track in their catalog, and the highlight of this album. I also think it adequately sums up a majority of the Post-Rock movement. Simplicities built upon by atmospheric passages until we reach a crescendo of sound. Here, the violin plays a critical role in being a "lead instrument" without really leading. It serves to accent the build of sound created by the other instruments, and to great effect. The result is something inspirational and rarely found in music.

This is a patient record. Do not listen to this unless you have the due time to give it the respect it deserves. Admittedly, I was extremely turned off by this band at first, even under the proper conditions. However, through multiple listens, sometimes forced, I was able to find the beauty that so many other listeners had described and found and was quite touched by the material.

F#A# infinity - a highlight of the post-rock movement and a record deserving of the accolades it has been bestowed.

Review by TRoTZ
5 stars Appealing, disturbing, revolutionary, a work of supreme sensibility! This album is a mark of a new era for post-rock, the band brilliantly made a post-rock opus, combining to their inspirated post-rock structures traces of symphonic music and disturbing ambiences. The result is 3 movements full of feelings, in a desperate appeal, as the world would end at any moment. It is a cathartic scream, it invokes the extremes of the human sphere of action!

As the violin enters in "The Dead Flag Blues" and hits through the spine, we're already hyptotized, terrified by the obscure, conspicuous ambience of the intro, as we listen "We're trapped in the belly of this horrible machine... and the machine is bleeding to death". This metaphor is perfect to describe what this album wants to transmit. "i said: kiss me, you're beautiful - these are truly the last days". Song 2 "East Hastings", which was used in the movie "28 Days Later" (terrific, by the way), continues the saga of expressionism, with the simple but beautiful guitar line envolved by the disturbing ambience giving a sensation of fear, loneliness, powerless. It was used on the movie in the part the main character discovers a completely empty London, as the film shows several minutes of his discover through the empty streets and buildings. The last track is compelled with several movements of pure magic, very touching in very different ways, a bit more energetic and joyfull, as if it was showing that it is still possible to change the world.

At the end of the century, Godspeed You! Black Emperor showed the evolution of rock music, the expressionism at its peak, a remarkable work. The world has not seen for years such a original piece of music, capable of transmitting a recondite feeling - the sum of art. Completely and undoubtfully, masterpiece!

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Now for something completely different. This could well have been said about this record when it came out in 1997, and how many albums could you really make that statement about ? There is no singing in this dark and melancholic work. It is made up of slowly building soundscapes with the subject matter being very apocalyptic.There is a lot of repetition (like a lot of Krautrock) and sampling, and not as many uplifting, breakout moments like on "Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven" that helps make that one a masterpiece.

"The Dead Flag Blues" opens with apocalyptic words,and the scene is bleak indeed.The violins come in as it gets quite emotional. Guitars come in and slowly build. Spoken words again 6 minutes in.There is a sample of a train leaving followed by experimental, spooky noises. Some gentle guitar 11 minutes in along with drums as the melody builds to a full sound. It softens before the song ends. "East Hastings" opens with a man preaching on the street accompanied with bagpipes. It gets quiet, too quiet, and very atmospheric. After 6 minutes the sound increases slightly with a cool guitar melody 7 minutes in with drums. It stops as violin comes in.The song speeds up and the sound builds 11 minutes in, were cooking now ! It ends after a minute as samples help create a dark and atmospheric sound with weird noises.

"Providence" is the longest tune by far on the record. Opening with samples of a conversation about the end of the world and the desperate times they are in.The sound slowly pulsates as violin and eventually drums dominate 8 minutes in. Guitars come in at 9 minutes as drums continue creating a great sound ! It stops as processed vocals come in as a drum, violin and guitar melody follows and it builds. It stops as the soundscape gets very atmospheric as different sounds come in that again build. There is about 4 minutes of silence that is followed by the most aggressive passage on the record. Amazing !

In many ways Post-Rock seems to me like a modern interpretation of Krautrock. And I know there are a lot of critics of both genres, with often the same complaints as well. You know the criticism, "It's boring, repetetive and lacks focus" and on and on. Well all I know is that these genre's offer us a lot of brilliant improvisation, as well as records that are truly a listening experience.

Review by Moatilliatta
5 stars This album seems to get very positive feedback from the members of ProgArchives, and it should. Here we have the first output from one of music's most pivotal bands, and it showcases the early stages of their unique expermiental fusion. In these three tracks you'll hear everything the bands has become acclaimed for: lush atmospheres, sometimes beautiful, sometimes creepy, long crescendos ultimately leading to an entrancing climax, and noises/odd audio clips. The tracks perhaps come off as a bit choppy and inconsistent to the new listener. This is due to the way in which the album was recorded and put together. The group originally recorded a 40-minute album (two vinyl sides, each one piece), but when the Kranky label offered to produce and sell it on CD, the band went back to the studio to record a little more material and put it on the final version of the album. Pieces from the original were moved around a little and the new music was incoporated to make three tracks, and 60 minutes of material. Still, the listener that let's the band do their thing and just listens to the album will get sucked into the apocalyptic sounds and atmospheres emitted and life will never be the same. Something like that. It's just a brilliant record.
Review by obiter
4 stars I have always thought that great music captures the listener, surrounds them and takes control of them emotionally or intellectually or both. It is this combination which for me at least epitomizes the best in progressive music.

The vision here is bleak, post apocalyptic and yet from the outset there is beauty. There is an understated and relaxed approach which reminded me of the sorrowful style of the Cowboy Junkies. However, GYBE do not conform to strict musical formula. By no means, samples, barren soundscapes, abound. There is narration and conversation.

For me, Providence stands out as the best example of all the facets of the album. The doleful strings are memorable (it's not the rumbling basses of Gorecki's 3rd) but the vision is similar. The piece moves from throttled tapped chords and harmonics to milataristic snares with an almost mandolin like folk style which end in almost total deconstruction: a barren and alien soundscape terrifyingly beautiful. Then silence before haunting echoed keyboards and guitar restore a more positive sensibility.

Review by sean
4 stars This debut album from the Canadian post-rock outfit is so titled because on the original l.p. the first side started with f sharp, the second with a sharp, and there was a locked groove at the end that would go on forever. I found that rather interesting, much like the music at hand. The first song, The Dead Flag Blues, is one of the most depressing things I have ever heard. It starts off with a monologue, which unlike most monologues, just adds to the song where in most instances it just gets cheesy. Slowly, instrumentation comes in and builds up to epic climaxes. The songs do tend to follow that formula of protracted crescendos but it doesn't really get old, as it's not very predictable, it's just how the band works. East Hastings is probably my favourite song by this band at the time, and it contains some moments that I would even venture to describe as heavy, not something usually found in this type of band. Providence has some spoken word samples from a preacher preaching the coming apocalypse on the streets of Providence, Rhode Island. The band makes use of these spoken samples throughout the album, and they add an interesting element to the music. I wouldn't say this is quite a masterpiece, but it's an excellent piece of music nonetheless. If you already are a fan of the band, I'm sure you'll like it, and if not I recommend it, but you need to have a certain amount of patience to listen to get through it, as the songs are all very long and minimalistic in nature, and many people might find that boring.
Review by Dim
5 stars Godspeed you black emperor is a hard band to get into. It took me several months, and finally, I feel confident enough to write a review on the magnificent album. First I should say that the album, is the bleakest, and most ambient of their three and a half albums, but it's my favorite. In lift your skinny fists, they get a little too straight forward, and in Yangui there just seems to be a lack of the pure desolation that they try to find that's already on this album. F# A infinity is absolutely pivotal in your post rock growth, and not owning the album is practically a crime if you're into the genre.

As you may may already know, this band mostly composes lengthy pieces between fifteen and twenty five minutes long, very occasionally going above or below that limit. This album is no exception, with only three songs, and clocking in at sixty three minutes long, Godspeed you! black emperor is giving Yes a run for their money. The song Dead flag blues is an extremely bleak track, framed around a short monologue at the beginning of the song talking about the destruction of America, corrupt governments, suicides, the works. And the rest of the song just flows through this atmosphere of depression, leaving you extremely... depressed. The next song East Hastings was featured on the movie 28 days later, and though I cant really say it fit in too well, the song is probably my favorite in the Godspeed catalogue. With the swelling of the epic climax, to the dark ambiance afterwords, a song you cant miss. The third song Providence, is built in typical Godspeed fashion, but with a longer time (twenty nine minutes) more time is given to climax, to create the dark/depressing atmosphere, and to portray some truly eerie vibes.

Another reason why this is my favorite album by the group is because the strings are basically as prominent as the guitars. While in the other albums, they're a bit more uneven (especially Lift your skinny fists). Extremely sad strings glide over the softer parts, while completely untampered with guitars make beautiful harmonies to contrast, and as the build up begins, the arpeggios become more faster and aggressive, while the strings start to crescendo and start moving in a chord progression rather than just droning. The climax will come while the EITS like drummer pounds away at the snare, and everything starts coming together, in a hurricane of noise, that becomes so intense at points that really all you can call it is noise. This only lasts for minute or two, or even less, before the crash is hit, the guitars suddenly stop, the strings come to a desperate crawl, and ambiance sets in to drift to the end of the song. This trend is basically on followed in the latter two songs. The first song, Dead flag blues, is a song that is in a constant motion, or ebb and flow, as guitars drop to strings, strings drop to ambiance, ambiance rises to guitars, and guitars drop to strings. This song is basically what sets the tone for the album...

...Melancholia, the factor that gives ninety percent of what post rock is made of. Bleak, unforgiving melancholia, a force to be reckoned with, a mood that hasn't been written in the stones of progressive music until this album was made. Sure Universe Zero may have contributed, hell even influenced it, but I do believe this band, and in particular, this album, brought the depressing side of music to post rock, and maybe even prog rock, and for that I am very grateful. Therefore, I give this album, with no hesitation Five stars.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Well this is pretty different from what I usually listen to. Godspeed You Black Emperor! make soundcollages or ambient soundscapes if you will. Their sound include samples, strings and slow building songs that ends in different climaxes throughout the songs. There are almost no vocals here on Godspeed You Black Emperor!`s debut album so the excitement is up to the slow building post rock notes.

The Dead Flag Blues starts really good with an apocalyptic sample which sets the mood for the rest of that song. Itīs hard to call this a song though as this is more sounds mixed together to make a whole. Itīs a pretty ambient song IMO.

East Hastings is a bit more exciting to me that The Dead Flag Blues. Again it starts with a sample and then sounds for a couple of minutes until the guitar starts and for the first time on this album there is something which vaguely reminds me of normal song structure. The drums then comes in an the repetitive riff builds slowly to a climax. This part of the song is where I finally find something that excites me just a bit. Itīs actually a very melodic section. The songs ends with more minutes of noise.

Providence starts like the two other songs with a sample and this song also have different climaxes that are build up from almost nothing. This is almost 30 minutes long but never gets boring. There are lots of different sections and soundscapes.

The musicians seem competent but the playing is very minimalistic most of the time and subtle playing seems to be prefered here as opposed to dynamically louder parts. When it is most intense there some good energy in the songs but most of the time they just drag along in a slow tempo.

The sound quality is excellent and it makes the music sound much more exciting than it really is. At least this is how I feel.

The composition quality is high throughout the album the problem for me is I donīt really like the style. I find it too minimalistic and when things get going it is too repetitive. Itīs not like the music is boring though, lots of things happen. If you like music that is slow building with intense climaxes this post rock album might be for you. Personally I only think this deserves 2 stars though. Iīm having a hard time enjoying the slow and minimalistic songs. Itīs very progressive and innovative though.

Review by ProgBagel
5 stars Godspeed You! Black Emperor - F#A# (infinity) 5 stars

The soundtrack to the apocalypse.

On this album, you can find some of the most tear jerking and emotional moving touches in music. That bill is brought out by a diverse instruments and exotic use of instrumentation. This band can even be considered a small orchestra, as many people do. This record is fully instrumental sans the dialogue sampling contained in the beginning of each of the three epic pieces.

Pertaining much too classical structures, each of the pieces can be broken down into movements, each having their elaborate purpose to serve the overall tone to the piece itself. There is also a lot of free-time and space left in the middle. This opens that gateway for lush ambience and prolonged silences, all to fit the greater mood which is complete darkness. There is absolutely no happiness to be found anywhere in this album. Some of the subjects the album deals with are war, violence and poverty. This band aims their ideals at America, which is kind of strange since they're Canadian.

What sets Godspeed You! Black Emperor above the rest in their genre pool is such simple things that they add into their music like their dynamics, crescendos/decrescendos, bends and feeling. All these things don't take practice or proficiency in ones instrument, but just the emotion that one wants to put into setting or building up to a peak and letting everything fall out into abrupt chaos.

The dialogue samples add a picture to the music, I can easily view what the person speaking and the music is trying to portray. This band is cinematic.

This album is one of a kind to me. I can't think of any other band that can get a message across like this. Don't expect a typical rap against government crap like Rage against the Machine; these are guys that aim of the societal problem in America.

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A very polished effort from a fine band. Although not as sophisticated as Lift Your Skinny Fists......, F#A# shows subtle uses of thematic illustrations to evoke atmospheres especially between songs or at the beginning. A bit similar to Pink Floyd using scenes to depict atmospheres from Wish You Were Here onwards. There is a minimalist approach on this 1997 release requiring a patient listener to slowly build into the emotions. The Dead Flag Blues is a real slow burner and certainly the most superior track on the album. That is not taking anything away from Providence which paved the way for more similar climactic soundscapes from follow up releases. Lots of spoken words as with later releases which reminds one of listening to some rants from some obscure cult! Three and a half stars for a good solid album.
Review by MovingPictures07
1 stars I'm a huge fan of electronic and ambient music, so the idea of an album being filled entirely with soundscapes isn't a problem for me at all. I hardly ever pull this album out, and now I remember why.

1. Dead Flag Blues- Boring. The freaking song takes forever to build up. The vocals are disturbing. I can appreciate what they're trying to paint here, but it's REALLY not my thing. Maybe I'll listen to it once every couple years out of curiosity, but... I've tried listening to this more than a few times but it doesn't do much for me. 2/10

2. East Hastings- Man, this one's even worse! This is way too uneventful for my tastes. The drums are... bad. The instruments themselves aren't bad; everything simply takes way too much time to develop. And does it really go anywhere? Doesn't seem like it to me and this hardly keeps my attention. Do NOT listen to this expecting to concentrate fully on it. 1/10

3. Providence- How could this delve even more into bland songwriting? This is definitely the worst track. The song doesn't get any better at developing ideas and some just come across as annoying, particularly the vocal part about 11 and a half minutes through. I mean, what is that? This is so uninteresting for me. 0/10

I still plan on keeping this album in my collection simply because I hate the idea of getting rid of an album that I've taken the time to hear and collect. The parts where they randomly interview people are tedious and ineffective.

Pass on this unless you want to hear the musical representation of a coma.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR F# A# ∞ - what a concept

In actuality I cannot review this album conventionally as it simply defies explanation. How can you explain this music - you simply cannot. You have to experience it, feel it, wallow in its tranquil beauty and sudden darkness that overwhelms each track. And they arent even tracks - they are something undefined. Is it music or is it an expression outside the realm of sound?

There are musical instruments but they are played with almost infinite and at times maddening patience. This is as slow as I have heard, minimalism, repetition and trance like rhythms. You cannot really expect to enjoy this music in one listen, it has to enter the conscious. Once it does the realm of music is reinvented. It is not at all pleasant but it is nonetheless invigorating to the soul.

Maybe I should write in stream of consciousness style: It is gentle it is relaxed it is bold it is original it is an acquired taste and many will be turned completely off, similar to Magma I guess.

Perhaps this music is supposed to be a message? Perhaps it is just enigmatic for its own sake - but underlying the whole thing there is a definitive monologue that is haunting and disturbing. "The Dead Flag Blues" speaks to us of fiery disasters and doom. But it is honest and sincere and downright raw emotion! I saw this clip on youtube and it was emotionally arresting. There are doom laden basslines and violins and piano staccatos that stab and weave like a tapestry among the maelstrom of sound.

I still cannot really enjoy this music - perhaps its not meant to be thoroughly enjoyed - but I can give it at least 3 stars for pure inventiveness and daring.

Review by Conor Fynes
3 stars 'F# A# ∞' - Godspeed You! Black Emperor (6/10)

Post-rock has been said to be a genre in decline, but at its peak was once Godspeed You! Black Emperor, a band who really went beyond the minimalistic guitar flourishes many have become accustomed to with the genre and amped up the orchestrations with lush string sections and electronic ambiance. Here is the band's debut, 'F# A# ∞', which- possibly dwarfed only by the band's sophomore- is among the most highly regarded works in all of post-rock, and worshiped by critics across the board. While 'F# A# ∞' is certainly in no dearth of intelligence or passion however, its indulgent sense of ambiance and mellowness can tend to make the album a toss-up between what sections of brilliance there are present here, and the somewhat more common quiet soundscapes and tedious stretches of silence that plague the record.

Being my first true experience with the band sparing a remarkably fitting sequence their music was set to in the film 28 Days Later, 'F# A# ∞' comes to me only with the knowledge that the band is one of the most well-regarded in both indie and progressive music scenes. With that having been said, I can simultaneously see why they might herald such acclaim, but I am also remarkably underwhelmed. Even after several listens to the record, 'F# A# ∞' remains to me an album that seems to have a world of potential and unfulfilled brilliance in it. Instead, Godspeed seems to get lost in their own indulgences with their debut. Although the album is over an hour long, there are only a few precious minutes on each track that truly warrants a listener's excitement. Most notable among these are actually the more conventional post-rock moments on the album, which bring about a great deal of emotional resonance to them. Besides that, the instruments are used quite frugally, giving way to very minimalistic electronic samples, tape loops, and even a few spoken word dialogues in each of 'F# A# ∞'s three parts. The dialogues do come as a bit of a system shock- the sound of a human voice in this mostly instrumental affair comes as something of a surprise each time- but despite what philosophical ponderings they may stir the first few spins around the record, the rough way they are mixed and the somewhat off-putting way they are integrated into the music doesn't work so well.

'F# A# ∞' is certainly a diverse album, but the proportions are all out of place. Had the band used the exact same ingredients but used them in such a way where much of the droning silence was taken out in the favour of cohesive composition and musicianship, Godspeed could have easily convinced me of their excellence. The band shows themselves to me as an act with some of the most potential the post-rock genre has ever seen, but while 'F# A# ∞' may be still very good for what it is, it is still a record that can only be played for very specific moods.

Review by Warthur
4 stars It will surprise few to learn that director Danny Boyle was listening to a lot of Godspeed You Black Emperor when putting together his arthouse zombie film 28 Days Later, because Godspeed have a uniquely morose and doom-laden sound in post-rock reminiscent of decaying, uninhabited, post-human extinction wastelands. Along with Scotland's Mogwai, Godspeed pioneered a "found footage" approach to post-rock, embellishing their compositions with sonic extracts from field recordings (or band-produced conversations engineered to appear like field recordings), against which their band-orchestra rumbles along with occasional outbursts of thunder like an angry stormcloud. This is the way the world ends: not with a bang, but a Black Emperor.
Review by Sinusoid
4 stars Want to dive into the atmosphere of the word after the Apocalypse?

Godspeed You Black Emperor's debut full length establishes the traits of the band of subject as well as a bite of the sound of post-rock in general. My understanding of this album is that F#A# (infinity) was meant to challenge the listener's perception of music, make them think, and/or engulf them in a certain atmosphere. There's no time to fiddle with riffs in the traditional rock sense, no over-the-top goofiness, not even many words to follow along with. The whole point of F#A# (infinity) appears to put the listener in a mood.

It's almost as if the album is meant to be understood subconsciously, so those with a more ''normal'' approach to understanding prog rock will have anger bouts trying to determine just what the heck is going on. The music has more in common with classical music or film scores, but the electric guitar plays quite the prominent role in shaping the themes, so it's fair to assume this has ''rock'' connotations.

The mood GY!BE put the listener in is quite bleak and depressing. Listening to ''Dead Flag Blues'' after the poetry at the beginning (which by itself sounds rather dull) gives a surprisingly distant yet warm tone that cannot be fully transposed into words. Then there are those ecstasy moments, usually augmented by the drum tempo, where the band go into full Magma mode where the brain tunes out the world around so that there's nothing left but the intensity and mesmerisation of the music in your headphones. Look at the middle of ''East Hastings'' or the 7/8 section of ''Providence'' to hear where I'm going with this.

All that said, there are simply too many nitpicks. Many times there will be some dead space in between themes. It's good to have the listener breathe, but there's only so much quiet tension one can take before boredom sets in. The worst is towards the end of ''Providence'' which does the irritating 90's trick of going into a few minutes of silence before pulling back into the music.

If you've ever heard of an album being more of an experience, this is one of those albums. Get this to hear how the granddaddies of post-rock got the ball rolling.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review by siLLy puPPy
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.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
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.

Review by Kempokid
5 stars The way this album sounds is perfectly represented by the album art, with the tone and atmosphere sounding like the soundtrack to a post apocalyptic wasteland. The imagery invoked by each slow, sweeping passage of music is incredibly vivid, flooding your head with pictures of empty, desolate plains, wind picking up light dust and blowing it past, dead trees in the distance, everything broken. Despite such vivid, melancholic imagery, the music itself is incredibly beautiful, with the string arrangements sounding absolutely amazing, never overpowering the delicate soundscapes created, but also bringing absolutely immense power when needed, leading to many moments in which I felt completely blown away.

'The Dead Flag Blues' has one of the greatest spoken word passages in music, perfectly capturing the essence of the band, with the dark brooding nature of it, backed up by a slowly building, atmospheric orchestral arrangement that sounds absolutely amazing. During the entire runtime of the track, there is honestly not too much progression, with mostly subtle changes as it goes on, simply getting somewhat more grandiose by the end. This is a common theme that I actually really like, using long stretches of music to capture a certain image or emotion, and then simply building on it slowly, in order to not disrupt what is being created. While this has the potential to end up becoming extremely boring, I find this album immersive enough to keep me engaged the entire way through. 'East Hastings' manages to be even greater than the first song, having a slow build throughout, becoming gradually more intense, having some more melodic elements to it, such as the incredible cello playing off the quiet guitar riff, slowly becoming more intense as the drumming slowly becomes more involved, faster, more complex. Instrument after instrument is slowly added, as the song continues to increase until it becomes incredibly intense. This part blows me away every time I listen to it, and is the best part of the album for sure. 'Providence' is much longer and more free flowing, with many points in which things escalate immensely, with smatterings of trumpets and other instruments throughout, and is definitely another very high quality piece, with some absolutely awe inspiringly beautiful musical passages.

While some may find this sort of music somewhat dull, due to its generally slow pace and general uneventfulness at points, I personally find this album to be absolutely incredible. The amount of emotion packed into each minute of each song is nothing short of breathtaking, along with some extremely vivid sonic imagery. Despite this only being my first taste of GY!BE, I definitely want to listen to more, because this album is an utter masterpiece in my opinion.

Best Songs: All of them

Weakest Songs: None of them

Verdict: For anyone interested in expansive soundscapes and powerful atmosphere, I highly recommend this album, but if you prefer your music to be more song focused, I'd say that you probably wouldn't enjoy this album, since I can definitely see how this could be boring to some.

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Report this review (#294169) | Posted by msphelps | Wednesday, August 11, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This record is the soundtrack of the apocalypse. It's gonna take a few listens to sink in, but once it does, you will probably find it to be a truly great album, each of the three long songs being connected in misery and darkness. The feeling I get from F#A# Infinity is a city of people watching ... (read more)

Report this review (#264056) | Posted by Neurotarkus | Tuesday, February 2, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars So this isn't exactly what I would call post-rock, it is kind of ambient music, it is very minimalistic, with very little musicianship and rather like a soundtrack for a movie. It is beautiful though, they create really incredible soundscapes and the feeling you get while listening to the album i ... (read more)

Report this review (#229220) | Posted by JTP88 | Friday, July 31, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars As a solemn man, with an old voice carved out from many years of living states, "Kiss me, you are beautiful, these are truly the last days", the mood is set for F#A# ∞. These truly are the sounds of the post apocalypse. Through the entire album, the listener is given a dark, bleak grey s ... (read more)

Report this review (#218305) | Posted by topofsm | Tuesday, May 26, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is certainly the most difficult listens from GY!BE but non the less a masterpiece. The songs evolve very slowly from mellow passages to create powerful and beautiful climaxes in a GY!BE/post rock fashion. But the music is more than just climaxes here and there. It's actually a depiction of ... (read more)

Report this review (#205736) | Posted by Tall Hair | Sunday, March 8, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars ".the car's on fire and there's no driver at the wheel and the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides and a dark wind blows." - Dead Flag Blues This is not an album: it is a vigilantly formed piece of art. I debated with myself for about 30 minutes before I started writing th ... (read more)

Report this review (#203758) | Posted by pianoman | Thursday, February 19, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The first post-rock album I've ever heard. I started listening to East Hastings, because this is the most popular song of the band...and I was fascinated. I gave more and more listens to this one and after some time I tried the other two as well. A great, undiscovered musical universe opened up ... (read more)

Report this review (#201544) | Posted by Diaby | Tuesday, February 3, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Yes, this is a good one. GYBE! is definitely the definitive band for orchestral-style post rock, and perhaps post rock in general. But, I feel like F#A#oO is weaker than its reputation would have us believe. The songs do not flow as well as those on Lift Yr Skinny Fists; though there are all-time ... (read more)

Report this review (#179318) | Posted by stonebeard | Saturday, August 9, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars my first experience of GS!BE. From the epic opening monologue about goverment corruption and the end times to the contrasting songs about pro and anti christian theology this album is about everything and nothing. time and space. perfectly crafted debut full length that is flawless in its instru ... (read more)

Report this review (#161915) | Posted by shentile | Saturday, February 16, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Godspeed was my first introduction to this crazy genre of "post-rock" and they, to this day, remain at the topThis is truly some of the most hauntingly beautiful music i have ever listened to. The gorgeous yet thunderous buildups, delicate guitar, the apocalyptic monologues, and beautiful melodies ... (read more)

Report this review (#154949) | Posted by keiser willhelm | Monday, December 10, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Godspeed You Black Emperor! (I like punctuating it that way I don't care how the band does it) is a band that immediately interested me. This might sound weird, as many have said that this is a band that is hard to get into, but by the time I found out about this band, I was already in the mindset ... (read more)

Report this review (#151779) | Posted by King Crimson776 | Monday, November 19, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Post-Rock is one of my favorite branches of progressive. Godspeed You! Black Emperor is really in their own little world. I have the cd version of F#A#∞, so there are three very long compositions, and all three of them are exceptional. This is one of the darkest albums i've ever hear ... (read more)

Report this review (#142395) | Posted by therevelator | Saturday, October 6, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I run into Godspeed when I was looking for some sort of relaxing, not too heavy music or just call it a break from (prog) metal. Anyway, this is the first Godspeed album that I got and also an introduction for me to post-rock. Basically, this is an instrumental album that has a very dark and qui ... (read more)

Report this review (#133009) | Posted by kazansky | Tuesday, August 14, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Unlike the majoraty of people on this site GYBE!/GY!BE was not the first post rock band I had heard. By the time I got around to purchasing F# A# (infinity) I was already a fan of EITS, 65days, Sigur Ros and Mono (and many more not on this site), and so I think that I am able to make a somewha ... (read more)

Report this review (#126946) | Posted by Proletariat | Wednesday, June 27, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A Soundtrack For The End of The World "We're trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death". Those are the first words you hear as Godspeed You Black Emperor's F#A#oo begins to play. A low, quiet, droning sound is heard as an aged man reminisces about ... (read more)

Report this review (#116226) | Posted by Rovert | Friday, March 23, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Not what I expected I was told this band was really good and that I should check them out. I did not know what post rock sounded like. I continued into my prolonged muse on what I thought of this but the music broke the concentration. It made me listen to the album without trying to form an op ... (read more)

Report this review (#112731) | Posted by progismylife | Monday, February 19, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Sometimes it happens that, when you listen to an album, you stop existing and you're sucked into another world. For me F#A#oo is such an album. The album opens with a low voice reciting a dark poem which conjures up images of destruction and armageddon. The rest of the album is mostly instrume ... (read more)

Report this review (#111515) | Posted by Evans | Saturday, February 10, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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