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REVIEW: Godspeed You! Black Emperor Explore The ‘Luciferian Towers’

Godspeed You! Black Emperor Concoct Cinematic Concept

gybe_01coverfront-2Canadian post-rock collective Godspeed You! Black Emperor return with a four-part composition that is more modern rock opera than instrumental progressive rock concept album. The beauty of the album is its versatility—just when you think it sounds one way, it mixes in a different style entirely.

“This long-playing record, a thing we made in the midst of communal mess, raising dogs and children,” the band said on its web page. “Eyes up and filled with dreadful joy – we aimed for wrong notes that explode, a quiet muttering amplified heavenward. We recorded it all in a burning motorboat.”

The eight-member experimental rock group, who once were misconstrued as terrorists after being stopped by police in Ardmore, Penn., Godspeed You! Black Emperor, originally took its name from the Japanese documentary about The Black Emperors biker gang. They began as after being offered a gig as a supporting act and before long, they had cut their first album, All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling, which was self-released on cassette tape in 1994 and limited to 33 copies.

The album cover for Luciferian Towers sets the stage, “the building chokes, folding inwards. There is a pit inside where the beating heart of the sun expands. Dust traces its contours like a radiograph.” A bleak scenario, the story is broken down into four distinct songs that paint a cinematic picture. According to the band, the album was also informed by the following grand demands:

  • An end to foreign invasions
  • An end to borders the total dismantling of the prison-industrial complex
  • The total dismantling of the prison-industrial complex healthcare, housing, food and water acknowledged as an inalienable human right
  • Healthcare, housing, food, and water acknowledged as an inalienable human right
  • The expert fuckers who broke this world never get to speak again

Godspeed You! Black Emperor further breaks it down, explaining the thought process behind each part of their cinematic adventure. The first, “Undoing A Luciferian Towers” begins sounding dark and ominous, but blossoms into something much more beautiful on this seven-minute-long track that takes listeners on a trip around the globe, mixing in salsa, Balkan horns, and Scottish bagpipes.

In regards to the first track, the band said, “look at that fucking skyline! Big lazy money writ in dull marble obelisks! Imagine all those buildings much later on, hollowed out and stripped bare of wires and glass, listen – the wind is whistling through all 3,000 of its burning window-holes!”

“Bosses Hang” opens up like the intro to a Clint Eastwood western with a noise-rock core, drawing influence from bands like Sonic Youth and DNA, only with more horns and violins. The band describes the theme of their three-part track, as “labor, alienated from the wealth it creates, so that holy cow, most of us live precariously! Kicking at it, but barely hanging on! Also – the proud illuminations of our shortened lives! Also – more of us than them! Also – what we need now is shovels, wells, and barricades!”

The band clearly has a taste for world music. And it really shows on each track, but none more so than in the intro of “Fam/Famine” a song that even manages to mix in digeridoo and other eclectic instrumentation to create a more symphonic atmosphere that takes a cinematic turn to address issues like gunfire, war, and drones.

“How they kill us = absentee landlord, burning high-rise. The loud panics of child-policemen and their exploding trigger-hands. With the dull edge of an arbitrary meritocracy. Neglect, cancer maps, drone strike, famine. The forest is burning and soon they’ll hunt us like wolves,” Godspeed You! Black Emperor state in a release.

For the final three-part track, the eight-member band pays homage to their homeland. According to the band, the songs are all about “Kanada, emptied of its minerals and dirty oil. Emptied of its trees and water. A crippled thing, drowning in a puddle, covered in ants. The ocean doesn’t give a shit because it knows it’s dying too.”

RATING: 3.5/5

The album is cinematic and beautiful but it can seem dark and ominous to a listener who is not prepared for it. Having said that, the band’s sound has evolved a great deal in recent years and is simply much more wholesome and symphonic.

UPCOMING GYBE TOUR DATES: 

13.10.17 Rome, IT Romaeuropa Festival w/monumental
14.10.17 Rome, IT Romaeuropa Festival w/monumental
15.10.17 Fribourg, CH Frison
16.10.17 Toulouse, FR Le Bikini
17.10.17 Bordeaux, FR Krakatoa
18.10.17 Rennes, FR Théâtre National de Bretagne
19.10.17 Rouen, FR Le 106
20.10.17 Lyon, FR Le Tobogan
21.10.17 Strassbourg, FR La Laiterie
22.10.17 Lille, FR La Condition publique
23.10.17 Brighton, UK Brighton Dome
25.10.17 Newcastle, UK Boiler Shop
27.10.17 Glasgow, UK ABC
28.10.17 Manchester, UK Victoria Warehouse
30.10.17 Bristol, UK Motion
31.10.17 London, UK Troxy
01.11.17 Brussels, BE Vorst Nationaal
02.11.17 Amsterdam, NL Paradiso
03.11.17 Berlin, DE Festsaal Kreuzberg
05.11.17 Hanover, DE Indiego
07.11.17 Paris, FR Elysée Montmartre
16.12.17 Houston, TX Day for Night
17.12.17 Houston, TX Day for Night
21.04.18 Tilburg, NL Roadburn Festival
22.04.18 Tilburg, NL Roadburn Festival

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