Today’s Sounds: Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! (Constellation)
The new Godspeed You! Black Emperor record — and first in 10 years — is exactly what you hoped and thought a new Godspeed record might sound like. It took a summer of discontent in the streets to get the Montreal troupe off their collective duffs, but really, who better to supply the soundtrack to our decaying burgh than our very own harbingers of all things dire?
As a whole, Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! is their most direct piece of work yet. What it lacks in dusty samples and atmospherics, it makes up for in crunchy guitars, intense riffs and highly effective interplay between said guitars and haunting strings. The record nicely condenses the group’s best qualities onto one 12-inch and one seven-inch.
A Godspeed album is meant to be consumed in a séance-type setting, so roll some good kush, light up the special candles and/or incense and prepare for a 53-minutes thrill ride of despair.
You can listen to the album stream here. Here’s a short list of moments you might want to pay close attention to.
1. 3:30 of “Mladic,” the song formerly known as “Albanian.” That clanking, so familiar…
2. 5:50 of “Mladic.” After an incremental build-up, this is the moment where business finally picks up. A classic Godspeed maelstrom of powerful sounds lurching forward at a deliberate pace.
3. 8:59 of “Mladic.” And you thought klezmer couldn’t sound demonic. This is the point where the Dybbuk slithered into Hotel2Tango undetected and leapt into their souls. Here’s hoping Socalled tries rapping on it in the near future.
4. 12:41 of “Mladic.” A quick transition into a sludgy dirge. The violin’s nice and grimy.
5. 14:20 of “Mladic.” That was a long block of intense loudness. Don’t get too comfortable though, this is a very short breather.
6. 18:45 of “Mladic.” Oh the banging and clattering of pots and pans in the street, how I missed you. Congrats to all you tuition hike and Bill 78 protesters, consider yourselves immortalized on wax!
7. 5:14 of “Their Helicopters’ Sing.” Godspeed have an exceptional knack for gradually integrating their strings, starting as a faint background whisper to an eventual unbearable screech. At one point, the strings are pretty much all you can focus on.
8. 3:06 of “We Drift Like Worried Fire.” Them’s sweet, sweet Godspeed chords, foreshadowing the darkness to come.
9. 8:25 of “We Drift Like Worried Fire.” Sometimes they’re loud, and other times they hardly make a stir. But the times where they single out a few ferocious parts and discard the others, to paraphrase Donovan, “that’s the time, I love the best.”
10. 10:20 of “We Drift Like Worried Fire.” That singular distorted violin, or whatever it is, is absolutely heartbreaking. That’s how you transition between movements. Transitions are sometimes more important than the main kernels themselves, otherwise you’d just have a 20-minute-long jam that doesn’t make a lick of sense.
11. 12:05 of “We Drift Like Worried Fire.” Spooky drumming here. The perfect soundtrack to perusing library stacks at night.
12. 15:30 of “We Drift Like Worried Fire.” Screw it, let’s make a Placebo record.
13. 4:35 of “Strung Like Lights at Thee Printemps Erable.” This is the part where the single flower blooms from the wasteland of cracked and broken concrete. No surprise it’s a band from Montreal that best understands how to evoke visions of crumbling infrastructure.
Fatima Al Qadiri, “Ghost Raid”
Thee Oh Sees, “Lupine Dominus”
Well well. From this San Francisco band’s recent album Putrifiers II, another video set in a bad-vibes strip club (we recently featured Frank Ocean’s “Pyramid”). Where the vibes are headed, and where the sexiness lies, may surprise you.