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A Silver Mt. Zion

Post Rock/Math rock

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A Silver Mt. Zion This Is Our Punk-Rock, Thee Rusted Satellites Gather + Sing album cover
3.30 | 52 ratings | 10 reviews | 17% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2003

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. So Some Lonesome Corners So Many Flowers Bloom (16:27)
2. Babylon Was Built On Fire/Starsnostars (14:44)
3. American Motor Over Smoldered Field (12:05)
4. Goodbye Desolate Railyard (14:25)

Total Time: 57:41

Line-up / Musicians

- Efrim Menuck / guitar, piano, electronics, vocals
- Ian Ilavsky / guitar, vocals
- Sophie Trudeau / violin, vocals
- Jessica Moss / violin, vocals
- Rebecca Foon / cello, vocals
- Thierry Amar / double bass, vocals

- "Rusted Satellite Choir" / chorus vocals (1,4)
- Howard Bilerman / drums (1), producer
- Aidan Girt / drums (3)

Releases information

Attributed to "Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & The Tra-la-la Band with Choir"

CD Constellation ‎- cst027-2 (2003, Canada)

2xLP Constellation ‎- CST027-1 (2003, Canada)

Thanks to useful_idiot for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy A SILVER MT. ZION This Is Our Punk-Rock, Thee Rusted Satellites Gather + Sing Music

A SILVER MT. ZION This Is Our Punk-Rock, Thee Rusted Satellites Gather + Sing ratings distribution

(52 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

A SILVER MT. ZION This Is Our Punk-Rock, Thee Rusted Satellites Gather + Sing reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by progmonster
1 stars If albums were points in a timeline, then "This is Our Punk Rock" represents the one from wich i got definitely tired by the post rock aesthetic. Yes, it is always easy and funny to criticize progressive rock and how quickly they turned out to be caricatures of themselves ; but post rock proved - even quicker - they were unable to reinvent themselves too. Their previous effort, "Born Into Trouble As The Sparks Fly Upwards" sounded more Godspeed You Black Emperor! than the latest Godspeed You Black Emperor!, so gone was the more intimate approach that did define at first A Silver Mt.Zion. Now, they play with a choir, but what would be next ? They cleaned up the surface but deep inside it is the same story repeated over and over, again and again. Unless you are still addicted to this kind of music and need more new fix, not listening to their third album will not make a hole in your musical culture but instead a useless one in your wallet...
Review by Sean Trane
3 stars This third album of the Montreal-based GYBE! offshoot is one the two more essential ones they made so far - alongside with their previous Born Into Trouble album. This however does not mean that it is a more accessible or any less obscure than other of their records.

The opening track is maybe my favourite and the most symphonic - maybe the most Gybe!- like of all, with an absolutely splendid climax. The second track returns to a more usual ASMZ with lenghty and repetitive vocals while the next one is a quaint fusion or mix of the first two track styles. The last track is getting a little lost with its huge endless choral-like chants with the lead reminding of the most depressing Neil Young (circa Tonight Is The Night). Not yet essential in my eyes, this record is a typical Constellation Records product with its ups and downs.

Review by ClemofNazareth
2 stars The third offering from the Mt. Zion (etc. etc.) collective takes a dip a little in terms of being interesting or innovative. They try (I think), but sometimes innovation can backfire. That’s probably why this is called experimental music.

I can’t decide if the cheap-looking cover is simply a reflection of apathy on the part of the band, or if they actually thought it was clever. I didn’t.

The music is scored quite a bit different than previous albums. This time the band takes more of a ‘Yanqui U.X.O.’ approach, with only four tracks that wind on for more than ten minutes each. Like the album that would follow, this one starts of with some sort of recording of what I assume to be Sophie Trudeau sounding a bit like an annoying participant in some sort of rehearsal. There are actually some fairly decent female backing harmonies here that add a nice new dimension to the music, but overall the vocals take the form of a polyphonic type of chanting that I used to see bald guys in white robes do in the Denver airport while trying to sell me posies. Tim DeLaughter and his Polyphonic Spree actually already traveled this ground and frankly they are much better at it, so maybe the Mt. Zion folks should stick to what they’re good at.

Anyway, that pretty much describes the first track “So Some Lonesome Corners So Many Flowers Bloom”, Menuck and some other guy (bassist Thierry Amar maybe?) doing their chanting thing with the rest of the group forming a kind of uber-creepy choral backing. This was actually kind of interesting the first couple of times I heard it, but if I want really good pseudo-religious chanting I’ll buy a Gregorian monks CD.

Eventually the singing fades away and the ubiquitous strings take center stage, but by the time they manage to work up a slightly frenzied crescendo I realize it’s really the drummer and Menuck’s guitar doing most of the work and I kind of lose interest.

“Babylon was built on fire/Starsnostars” takes forever to get going, starting with just silence and slowly adding a pulsating guitar, then strings, then some bells and electronic static (I assume that’s not actually from the studio tapes), and eventually Menuck starts with the singing again. By the band’s third album I have actually tired of this, and am distracting a bit by Thierry’s upright bass, which is more prominent here than I recall in any previous work by the band. There appears to be some sort of experiment in quadraphonic vocals toward the end, but since I don’t have a fancy home entertainment system it just ends up sounding like one of my speakers is cutting out. I actually have to admit I didn’t like this track much and have skipped it several times when playing this CD.

“American motor over smoldered field” starts off with one male and one female voice singing what sort of sounds like some fifties hillbilly tune, or maybe an old Green on Red recording. Just an aside, but every time I hear this album I picture Trudeau, violinist Jessica Moss, and cellist Rebecca Foon standing on a concrete studio floor barefoot with hairy armpits and baggy tie-died tshirts, looking bored. That’s probably rude, but hey – I can’t control my thoughts, I blame the music.

This one has a very cool buildup in the middle though, as energetic as anything Mt. Zion have done to-date, with the guitar dominating but both violins and the cello working themselves to a frenzy alongside. Unfortunately this doesn’t last nearly long enough and we’re left with the spacey violins and Menuck’s brain-addled ramblings again to close the song out.

The band saves the best for last on this album. “Goodbye desolate railyard” is an excellent tune, although quite a departure for these guys. The song starts out with acoustic guitar which is soon joined by Menuck’s Kermit the Frog vocals, but here he’s at least fully coherent and I can follow the lyrics. They don’t make much sense, but I can follow them. Here he really does sound like the guy from Green on Red, by the way. This is a very stark work, mostly piano and one violin and Menuck singing like a dying cat. There is an extended instrumental buildup in the middle here as well, but this one sounds like the quittin’ time whistle at a chicken processing plant played over the sound of a freight train being loaded and sent off into the night. Clever maybe, but drawn out much too long to really hold the listener’s attention.

I really do like these guys, this album aside. This one certainly doesn’t represent their finest moment. The ‘clever’ sound effects mostly backfire, the arrangements are largely listless and don’t seem to lead anywhere, and Menuck should really quit singing. There’s more good music coming from our crazy Canadian cousins on subsequent albums, but this one is for collectors only. Two stars.


Review by Prog-jester
3 stars No, this is NOT Punk Rock :)

ASMZ is a Post-Rock band, and I’m sure that half of readers will stop reading right now. Post-Rock is a unique kind of music; you must be sure if you like it or hate it, there are no compromises. ASMZ is a GYBE off-shot (Efrim’s side-project), but it’s rarely sounds like GYBE. There are acoustic guitars, pianos, vilons, female and male vocals...but wait, they even have choir here! Very minimalistic and a little bit more up-lifting than GYBE, ASMZ shined on their debut 2000 record, but later lost some part of their charm (IMHO) and became just boring in parts. Recommended for Post-Rock (because this is very good CD after all) devotees, but beginners should begin with ASMZ’s “He has left us alone…” album or better any GYBE one.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Adding an amateur choir to the lineup and mutating their band name yet again, A Silver Mt. Zion embrace the vocal performances and found sounds which parent band Godspeed You Black Emperor abandoned on Yanqui UXO. Efraim does a brilliant job of weaving all these disparate elements into a cohesive whole - for instance, on the closing track Goodbye Desolate Railyard, on which the band's playing reaches a crescendo which seamlessly becomes a mechanical shriek heralding a series of railroad noises before these once again mutate into the band and choir singing farewell to the listener. Sure, maybe the post-rock thing was getting old when this one came out, but few bands do it better.
Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars A Silver Mt. Zion continues to change with their 3rd full length album and the name has been expanded to "The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-la-la Band (with Choir)". With this album, called " 'This is Our Punk-Rock' The Rusted Satellites Gather + Sing", the core band remains, but an amateur choir made up of 22 friends of the band has been integrated into the music. This album consists of 4 long tracks, divided up into suites in the same manner as their previous albums and the albums of "GY!BE". In this album, however, we see that A Silver Mt. Zion is moving away from their GY!BE roots and striving to create a new post-rock sound of their own.

The first track "Sow Some Lonesome Corner So Many Flower Bloom" demonstrate that sound difference right from the get-go, incorporating the choir immediately with the band as a backup. The music here is original and well done, even though the only words are meaningless lyrics like "Fa-la-la" and etc., yet it still sounds very meaningful. The choir sings an anthem to one of the selected empty or unused spaces in Montreal that the band pays homage to in the album. The choir continues through the first half of this 16 minute track before the band takes over with the lovely instrumental section, driven by violin and guitar. Eventually, the music builds in intensity and emotion, making for a lovely crescendo and when the music hits its apex, it can set your heart and mind racing.

"Babylon Was Built on Fire / StarsNoStars" begins with warbling guitars chiming softly creating a sparse atmosphere. After 3 minutes, violins emerge from the haziness of the music, and slowly build as guitar effects push them on. A feeling of an atmospheric dirge is created, but before the 6 minute mark, the echoing background stops and Efrim's vulnerable vocals start. Those familiar with his vocals know what to expect, but otherwise they may be a bit of a shock to some with his appealing yet amateurish sound. Later a guitar and violin duet help increase the intensity a bit, but even with the tortured sounds further in the back ground, this still remains somewhat minimal. A few melodies come and go through the vocals, and the use of building intensity through repetitive vocals eventually takes hold, and soon contrasting melodies and vocals are layered over each other, and there is that frantic feeling you get as the themes fight against each other in voices and instruments. The intensity breaks before the ending and things quickly calm as the violins continue a pizzicato passage to take things to the end.

"American Motor Over Smoldered Field" begins with jangly guitars and with Efrim singing quietly. Soon the strings come in (there is a small string quartet played among the group members) and the music gets a stark, yet lush feel as the vocals build tension. The drums kick in suddenly after 4 minutes when the vocals end and the small orchestra becomes full with a nice harshness to it. At 7 minutes, the intensity subsides suddenly and a solo violin plays against a minimal guitar. The core group forms their own layered wordless vocals as the music builds, then Efrim's vocals start again with a repeated lyric as the music throbs along until the end.

"Goodbye Desolate Railyard" utilizes the amateur choir again. This starts with Efrim singing a homage to the old train yard before it is removed with a melody that isn't as dark as you would expect since the lyrics look back to the days that were better when the trains were still running. The music converges to a drone-like quality at the 4 minute mark. This intensifies until it fades to railway sounds at 8 minutes. A lone acoustic guitar finally comes in after 10 minutes and hesitant vocals join in and the choir slowly joins in to the repeated lyrics.

Except for maybe the last track which is not quite as interesting, I think this album is judged a little too harshly. I had a hard time with it at first, but the more I hear it, the more I think it is pretty amazing how the band can describe the emotions of loneliness and sparseness, that it's not always just sadness and quietude, but it is also anguish and rage. A Silver Mt. Zion can express all of this in their music. Many complain about Efrim's strange vocals, but honestly, I can't see how any other vocals could fit this music. This album definitely deserves a little more love, and to get that, it needs to be given a chance. It's true that the last track is lacking a bit, but the other tracks are definitely 5 star material, so this album easily deserves at least 4 stars.

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars Having taken his side project from Godspeed You! Black Emperor from a one off tribute to his dog Wanda to a veritable second career, Efrim Menuck found a new way to express his post-rock fantasies in the ever changing band that featured not only new members and new sounds but also a new name! On the third album the band that started out as A SILVER MT ZION had expanded into the mind boggling THE SILVER MT ZION MEMORIAL ORCHESTRA & TRA-LA-LA BAND WITH CHOIR and if that wasn't a mouthful enough the title of the album, "THIS IS OUR PUNK-ROCK," TEE RUSTED SATELLITES GATHER + SING must take the record as one of the longest band name / album title combos in the history of recorded music.

THIS IS OUR PUNK ROCK takes the spectacle of SILVER MT ZION even deeper into extreme excess with an addition of Thee Rusted Satellite Choir which adds as well as the already expansive chamber folk backing that joined Menuck on "Born Into Trouble as the Sparks Fly Upward." And with four tracks that add up to almost 58 minutes of playing, what the ZION clan delivers this time around is another slice of cerebral slow burners dominated by lugubrious cyclical riffs that showcase the incremental tension that builds up to thundering crescendoes. Very much in the vein of Godspeed however Menuck intentionally steered his new project well away from any similarities other than the genre and captured the spirit of a 20th century classical orchestra that excels at multi-layered simplicity guaranteed to test the listener's patience.

With a much greater emphasis on vocals on THIS IS OUR PUNK ROCK, Menuck delivers his usual gruff singing style only accompanied by an amazing harmonic backing. The results give a larger than life presentation that takes the entire band project to new heights and while the musical flow is based upon simple repetitive melodic clusters, the ratcheting up effect and change of tones, timbres and dynamics are taken to post-rock's most outrageous logical conclusions with slow oozing chamber folk segments transmogrifying at glacial speeds into heavy fuzz guitar dominated noise-fest with percussion thundering that teeter on total chaos. And the best part is that once again Menuck delivers an album that sounds completely distinct from the one that came before through strong compositions and attention paid to every little detail.

Post-rock can really be one of the most difficult music sections in the modern world not because it's super complex like the knottiest prog albums of the past but rather because it demands a total focus on the minutia in order to fully comprehend its full magnitude. Menuck has proven his genius through a consistent flow of Godspeed and MT ZION albums that bedazzle and amaze in completely new ways and this third album continues that trend with four strong tracks that keep the initiated enthralled for its entire playing time. While i always find Menuck's vocals to be the weakest link in his otherwise flawless creative control, they never detract enough to keep me from loving his brilliance and on this third release he ratchets up the fire power of SILVER MT ZION several notches. Another brilliant release that doesn't end here.

Latest members reviews

5 stars The Best SMZ Album! This is not only their most progressive, but most musical and most emotional album. I am shocked by the lower scores for this here. This sees the band writing extended epics - one on each side of the double vinyl album - and in turn developing their musical ideas over longer o ... (read more)

Report this review (#1706977) | Posted by Walkscore | Friday, March 31, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This time, a 22-piece choir has been added to the band. A Silver Mt. Zion have now become way more of a separate entity from Godspeed You Black Emperor, in which they're often compared to. It's an odd yet fitting touch, the breathtaking drops and pickups are all still here however. Efrim's voi ... (read more)

Report this review (#44166) | Posted by | Wednesday, August 24, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Although virtually indistinguishable from the larger and more powerful Godspeed You! Black Emperor on their first two releases, with the exception of a marginally quieter volume, it isn't surprising that with "THIS IS OUR PUNK ROCK," THEE RUSTED SATELLITES GATHER AND SING, A Silver Mt. Zion is a ... (read more)

Report this review (#42644) | Posted by morpheusdraven | Friday, August 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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