Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
Godspeed You! Black Emperor don't do social media. Godspeed You! Black Emperor don't do PR. Hell, have you even seen their website? What Godspeed You! Black Emperor do is make a proper, beautiful racket. The music industry has changed a lot since GY!BE's inception during the mid-nineties, but it's great to know that, not only have the band fully turned their backs to the whims and "necessities" of being in the industry, but are still as intriguing, angry and important as ever. All without a single tweet.
These days musicians are encouraged to follow the pack: set up a Facebook page; get a nice little media pack together with pictures of the band conveying some facade of non-meaning, meta-deep emotion; punch your potential listenership constantly in the face with frequent, important updates about the solidity of your faecal matter via social media; play (for free); give your music away (for free); wear cool clothes (with optional specs); get your EP slagged off on some trendy blog; fuck off; give up; become a administrator for a business you couldn't care less about. The whole process is grimly predictable and woefully depressing (especially when you see Mumford & Sons sipping the amber nectar from fountains made of frozen celebrity piss). GY!BE have never adhered to this rule of fashion, nor will they, there is no agenda other than making noise with the people they love; ''l'art pour l'art'."
It only takes a few seconds of Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! to realise that GY!BE are back to do what they do best; making a glorious cacophony of ringing guitars, singing strings and ferocious feedback. 'Mladic' begins proceedings with the sound of yelping guitar strings, almost acting as a pre-show announcement stating that "we're back, and we strongly advise that those of a nervous disposition should turn the record off immediately and crawl back under the covers." It takes until about the 6-minute mark before the track begins to pitilessly drill into your brain with chugging distorted guitars before becoming more and more unhinged, scraping off the varnish from inside the walls of your skull with aggressive, piercing guitar lines. This isn't the sound of our Earth's destruction... this is the beginning.
The structure of Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! is the kind of composition we've come to expect from GY!BE; two 20 minute opus' and another two tracks each around the seven minute mark. The two shorter tracks – 'The Helicopters' Sing' and 'Strung Like Lights At Thee Printemps Erable' - mainly consist of atmospheric orchestral drones and offer little other than the musical equivalent of sinking into a terrifying, yet completely absorbing, K-hole. However, it is with the exquisite opener 'Mladic' and 'We Drift Like Worried Fire' where this album truly shines. If 'Mladic' could score the fiery, colossal, pounding creation of planet Earth, then 'We Drift Like Worried Fire' sounds like the blossoming of life and the splendour of scientific wonder. The guitars throb and pulse with explosions of reverb and delay whilst the fragile beauty of the strings rise and fall across the mix until, solitary, they remain at the focal point of the song with heart-breaking majesty and poise.
Those familiar with the band's live set will probably contest the supposed originality of the compositions as they have been part of the groups' set-list for the past ten years, but fuck it, it's great to finally have them recorded, in our computers, on crackling vinyl and through our headphones. Nothing compares to the visceral screeching of GY!BE as a live experience, but no other bands are making post-rock influenced instrumentals with as much scope and intrigue, as much anger and pathos and all without the need to pander to an internet generation of trendy fads, track skipping song hunger and the overbearing need to seem 'relevant'. These guys are it. These guys are your mother nature, mother fuckers! Now stop chatting shit about Grimes and suck from her nourishing teat.
Purchase and listen
Godspeed You! Black Emperor took to the stage one by one, slowly replacing the low drone from the start of 'The Dead Flag Blues' played from a recording with an extended crescendo of improvised noise from their many effects pedals, all while the word 'hope' flickered on the projection screens that provided almost the only light on stage. It was amazing. [read more]
Day two of ATP's I'll Be Your Mirror (continuing the Velvet Underground naming, IBYM being the b-side to the All Tomorrow's Parties single) saw (again) beautiful sunshine and a bright and early jaunt up the curving Alexandra Palace hill for what promised to be an intense, beautiful way to begin the day [read more]