CD in gatefold paperboard jacket, 180gLP in tipped-on gatefold jacket includes 7 vinyl + 12 x 48 pull-out poster vinyl is non-returnable. LEGENDARY INSTRUMENTAL ROCK BAND RETURNS WITH FIRST ALBUM IN 10 YEARS. Touring Europe in Nov. A decade has passed since the release of Yanqui U.X.O., the last album by Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Never a band to pay heed to industry wisdom, Yanqui was released shortly before xmas 2002 with little publicity, no press availability, no marketing plans, cross-promotions or brand synergies, adorned with now infamous back cover artwork diagramming the links between major record labels and the military-industrial complex. Like all GYBE albums, this one did just fine and found it s audience : a passionate and committed fanbase galvanized by the group's sonic vision and its dedication to unmediated, unsullied musical communication. That such simple principles and goals have become harder to maintain and enact a decade later is an understatement. For all the contents and discontents for all the content of our present cultural moment, the idea of circumventing the glare of exposure or side-stepping the careful plotting of media cycles and identity management seems profoundly illadvised, if not futile. But Godspeed is looking to try all the same. The band wants people to encounter and care about this new album, without telling people they should. They seek to preserve the thrill of anonymous and uncalculated transmission, knowing full well that these days, anti-strategy risks being tagged as a strategy, non-marketing framed as its opposite, and deeply held principles they consider fundamental to health as likely to be interpreted as just another form of stealth. The band has been carving its own path again since 2010, regrouping as the same self-managed collective entity it has been from the outset, making appearances at a tiny clutch of music festivals, and otherwise just touring its own shows. It's been a disorienting time to resurface, but it has felt overwhelmingly right, honest and good. We think Godspeed has made a new record that maintains if not exceeds the standards of their previous work a high bar, many would agree. GYBE picked up right where they left off, and after almost two years of practicing, playing and touring, Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! Delivers two mighty sides of music (bookended by two new drones) that the band had been working up prior to their 2003 hiatus, which they have now shaped into something definitively stunning, immersive and utterly true to their legacy. The future looks dark indeed, but on the evidence of this new recording, Godspeed appears wholly committed to staring it down, channeling it, and fighting for some rays of sound (and flickers of light) that feel righteous, unflinching, hopeful and pure.
Although they returned to the live stage in 2010 from a hiatus which began in 2003, this fourth studio album from the Canadian post-rock cyphers nevertheless comes as a surprise, its release – in contrast to the music it contains – silent and unheralded.
And it’s a surprise that should please followers of this most exclamatory of bands (in music, as in punctuation). The album consists of just four tracks; two stretching over 20 minutes (Mladic and We Drifted Like Worried Fire), the shorter two (Their Helicopters Sing and Strung Like Lights at Thee Printemps Erable) available on the vinyl release as separate 7” singles. The longer tracks are re-workings of Albanian and Gamelan, long part of the band’s live set, now recorded for the first time.
Each piece has its own distinct mood. The mind-blasting Mladic, from which the album risks never quite recovering, is characterised by intensity. From the opening snippets of dialogue (the repeated “With his arms outstretched” could be interpreted as a nod to their Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven), its running time allows a gradual layering and build.
The increments of speed, volume, tone, and the addition of small details and instrumentation are almost imperceptible at times. But at others the flourish of a whirling dervish guitar fill, or a portentous pause followed by a dramatic reintroduction of the track’s main melodic motif, are marked and breathtaking.
We Drifted Like Worried Fire is from the gentler, more melodic end of the post-rock spectrum, its key melody repeated like a mantra, its use of strings emotive, lush and filmic, punctuated with rhythmic paradiddles. The two shorter tracks are the album’s darker moments: Their Helicopters Sing is a hissing, rumbling, disturbing piece, angry sawing violins seeming to attack the surrounding music.
Later, Strung Like Lights… wrings eerie ghost-like noises from its instruments, a thick and murky soup developing into what would be describable as white noise were the resulting sounds not so black. By the time it literally fades to nothing it is clear that Godspeed have once again created a challenging, intense, evocative work, worthy of their canon.
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