Sound — 10
Godspeed You Black Emperor! are an american nonet with a shifting line-up, instument arrangement and mark. They are technically a post-rock outfit, but it seems difficult to put them in contension with other bands of the same genre like Mogwai and Explosions In The Sky because thier sound is so unique. They use various techniques, but on F#A# the slow building violins and heavily sustained clean guitars combined with monologues from deep voiced new yorkers (sounding not unlike Johnny Cash) all add to the effect of a post-apocalyptic bleak urban wasteland. The drums at times dissapear from the album but only to increase thier impact as thier long tempo-building snare rolls echo the sound of military drums. The song structures are long and winding and minimalistic (even for post-rock) with just three tracks on this album each between 18 and 30 minutes long (although it may be possible to split the tracks up into distinct movements). Despite its minimalism, or perhaps because of it, this album remains uniquley satisfying and a glowing example of the textural power and artistic bent, of the giddy heights and enthralling lulls, this band has to offer.
Lyrics — 8
Godspeed lack a singer. What they do have is various monologues, the best of which occuring at the beginning of the 70 minutes. The tone and texture of his voice fits the meaning of the monologue and sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the album. One could easily see the trap of cheesy lyrics that might lure a band in when dealing with this subject matter and if this opening monologue was done incorrectly I doubt I would have had patience for the rest of the album. This is the closest thing the album has to a hook.
Overall Impression — 10
Godspeed are possibly the best band of thier kind, they are certainly my favourite. This album in particular could be defined as an opus for them because, more so than any other album, it shows thier ability to craft beautiful works of art in music rather than just beautiful music. You kinda of get the feeling that every word, every note, every clash of a cymbal carrries meaning. The few things Godspeed are not is immediate or heavy, though their name could imply both. It took me a few listens to get into this album (as with all my favourite albums) but when the patterns began to emerge more clearly it was like seeing a rusty boken husk of senioretta liberty rise out of the atlantic ocean; Awe-inspiring and grandiose, but tinged with the ambivalence of melancohly and justifaction.