on 7 April 2006
This album certainly doesn't make for easy listening so it's definitely not one to soothe or relax. Perhaps it has its quiter, calmer moments, but on the whole this is an album to grab you and shake you with the force of a tornado. This ain't sweet or romantic business that speaks of heartbreak either, unless heartbeak be seen in cosmic proportions. This is somber, heavy music on the less optimistic side - it inneffably speaks about pain and sadness and injustice in the world (see bombs on cover, and politicized inner sleeve notes) and it does so through such intense a material and on such gradiose a scale that it can hardly be listened to in one go. But this is hardly the artists' fault, and one can only admire the force of this legendary instrumental rock group at its peak. This album will leave you drained to be sure - but don't be frightened off: it'll show you such heights of beauty and transfiguration, and it it'll so move you and stir you deep down inside that it'll feel like some mystical purging experience. A ridiculous amount of harmonies and torrents of beauty crammed within a one hour recording. Amazing.
on 12 February 2003
Upon first listen to this it seems to be too long and drawn-out, but that's only the first listen. Once you get used to it and listen to again you start to understand why this music was written this way. It is written to amaze, and to have it most simply put, it does.
It never zooms along at high speed, but crawls, not too slowly, but still crawls, and this all adds to the amazing effect of GYBE. You can feel emotion distilled in the music, everything that comes out from it comes with pure emotion. And the fact that these songs were written to portray wars just adds to that effect. You can almost imagine the armies marching along and then when all the music finally comes together they're commensing battle, and then it dies down and the battle is over, but only one side is victorious, but there is something calm about the victory. All these portrayed by music. It's just simply amazing.
If you like music to be short songs, don't buy this. If you like long, beautiful instrumental masterpieces buy this now. You won't regret it. This was my first GYBE buy after hearing one song off a previous album, and I cannot get enough of it.
on 12 November 2006
RI am an admirer of all Godspeed's albums but I left purchasing `Yanqui UXO' until last, not through any desire for chronology but simply because I had perceived from reviews that this was the band's weakest effort. Just goes to show how wrong you can be.
`Yanqui UXO' shows the band to be in blistering form. This is by far their tightest and most cohesive effort yet. Gone are the spoken word samples that permeate all of their other recordings. These are a matter of taste, but in my opinion they detracted from the quality and focus of some of the material on `Lift Your Skinny Fists..', for example.
Guitars are more to the fore here, distorted to a greater extent than previously (perhaps showing the influence of Albini at the desk) but I disagree that other instruments do not have room to breathe. Rather, this is the first album where Godspeed genuinely sound like a band rather than a collection of musicians, albeit very talented, chipping in with their own ideas.
The music is driven with an exhilarating rush, exemplified superbly on the album's heart `Rocket Falls..' This 20-minute track is virtually an album in itself as it progresses through so many stages; from urgently plucked guitars, atmospheric strings, blasts of distorted guitar and back again, separated by one wonderfully swooping cinematic flourish. Great stuff.
A criticism would have to be that at 74 minutes the record is a little overlong, but don't let the nay-sayers put you off. If you love powerful and urgent rock music buy this CD. Will there be another Godspeed album? Perhaps not as the side projects proliferate, but if not this is a fine way to bow out. Excellent.
on 10 February 2003
YANQUI U.X.O. is perhaps the most satisfying Godspeed! album thus far. There are no vocal interludes or messy atmospheric shenanigans, just a series of well structured, extremely infectious melodies. Playing less upon the slow fast slow fast trademark sound, this album is not so much about the power or the impact (but it has these too) but more about the actual melodies themselves. This is Godspeeds! 'pop' album and it sounds absolutely brilliant (perhaps as a result of Steve Albini, legendary producer of Nirvana, the Pixies and PJ Harvey amongst others).
The albums' shadings of light and dark (not so much as the fast and slow) is quite incredible, and this makes it a good start to finish listen. Some of the melodies are very unforgettable and this album, when listened to in the correct frame of mind, can become quite addictive. It's certainly a better focused, more complete and consistent album than their previous ones (which where also excellent), despite slightly lacking in the variety of 'Lift Your Skinny Fists....' There's also more emotion to be found amongst the mayhem- although not quite as sad as 'Lift Your Skinny Fists' or 'F#A#Oo' it's far more devastating and scary.
I can't understand it when people call Godspeed! a demanding band. Judging from this, they simply aren't (although maybe with previous albums/eps). This album is like a cross between incidental movie music at its peak with a lot of attention payed to melody and construction. What's so difficult about that?
I guess it's the lack of lyrics. Speaking of which, I believe this is some sort of soundtrack about the atrocities committed between Israel/America and Iraq, and the fact that lyrics (thankfully) aren't included, there is a genuine sense of grief and sadness in the music itself which is created inside the mind of the listener, rather than the use of lyrics forcing us to believe and take the objective opinion from the artists themselves.
If you consider yourself a patient listener and a fan of epic movie scores and are intrigued by a rock and classical music crossover with atmosphere then invest in this. If you're already a fan, you probably already have it, and should be listening to this modern classic/masterpiece right now (whilst sending letters of complaint to music publications for not telling the public about them).
Highlights are track 1, the last half of track 3 and the whole of track 5 (which is pretty mindblowing and easily Godspeeds! greatest triumph).
on 19 February 2003
I'm glad I didn't review this after only a one or two listens. Godspeed do not hit you like that; their music requires to undergo a certain type of osmosis like process in order to properly enter your musical ear. This is a work of art, make no mistake about that.
It's taken me a lot of listenings to click what it reminded me of, namely Rimskykorsakov's Scheherazade. Before I'm pounced on for seeming to be pretencious, let me explain what I mean by sayng that the music on UXO uses the same devices. The same solo violin sounds throughout all of the tracks ie the same 'voice' can be heard, and to me, at least, it has a Middle Eastern accent to it...
This gets 4 stars instead of 5 from me because I sort of miss the sampled voices. But I do admire them for taking the decision to make an album purely of music, minus the 'gimmickry'. It works, and it works well. It is melodic, it is frightening, it is angry, it is hopeless, but it is always beautiful, even when you can hear the bombs striking home in Rockets Fall...
I wish more people could get to know Godspeed. But then a selfish part of me thinks that that might just strip them of some of their appeal. A fine album from an excellent band who are not afriad to say what they think ... if only we care to listen.
on 6 June 2003
For many years I have been a big fan of Mogwai. I like their long, drawn out build ups and releases of tension through big, loud noise. Thing is that I have got all of their albums and EPs but still wanted more of this stuff that makes my spine tingle. I wondered for a long time if there were other bands which could electrify me in the same way. Recently Amazon told me to buy Godspeed You! Black Emperor albums because I had written some reviews about Mogwai and Sigur Ros. I went and purchased this album from my local independant (a marvellous place called Record Collector in Broomhill, Sheffield). I banged it on as soon as I got home and spent the next hour and a quarter grinning happily.
This music is IMMENSE. The pieces all exceed twenty minutes and as such they move slowly and develop gradually. It generally adheres to the same structural formula: quiet > build up > build up more > keep building up > smash > huge, thunderous, loud > fade away > start again. Okay, so some might say that they find that somewhat boring and samey after a while. I don't. I love it. It's a tried and tested formula that always produces amazing results. For heaven's sake, sex is pretty repetitive! It always follows the same pattern, but not many people find themselves starting to get kinda bored with THAT do they?
The work done by the orchestral instruments on this album is absolutely brilliant and combines with the guitars, drums, etc to create some gorgeous, fascinating landscapes. Lie in a dimly lit room with your eyes closed and this coarsing through your headphones and let it wash through you... Mwwwaaaaaaaahaaahahahaaaaa! Heavenly. Yanqui U.X.O. is full of every kind of surprise: harmonic, rhythmic, melodic... I don't believe I shall ever get bored of this album, it's just so incomprehensible. There's so much to explore and absorb.
And what's more... there a bunch of blessed ANARCHISTS!!! There's a chart showing how the large record companies are linked to arms dealers on the back of the sleeve. What more do you want?!
The other albums are going to follow this in to my record collection shortly, along with the new Mogwai, Radiohead, Grandaddy albums. It's gonna be an expensive month. Anybody who likes Mogwai, Sigur Ros, or any other band similar enough to warrant Amazon telling them to buy this album should buy it. They will love it as I do.
I'm off to write love poetry to Godspeed... now. Gonna send 'em flowers.
on 11 October 2002
being treated to a pre-release copy of this album has been anything but a disappointment. it's the same classic godspeed sound. a little less orchestral compared to raise yr skinny fists, but also a lot better. a lot less voice samples are present here (none, infact). perhaps a lesson learnt from skinny fists' tendency to slow down and become almost tiresome during the long tape recording samples.
perhaps not quite their best release, yanqui uxo is still fully worthy of the five star rating. however, in places perhaps it lacks the intense emotion of the first album, f#a#infinity, and the EP, new zero kanada. but only slightly.
there are three tracks, which just about fit on one cd, at 75 minutes. the first track, 09-15-00, is classic skinny fists material. beautiful slow bass build up, then dropping off into violins and guitar and building up beautifully once again. another drop-off and build up, then some wonderfully moody echoing sounds and notes take us to the end of the track. the next track, Rockets Fall On Rocket Falls starts with some nice guitar riffs, which gradually build momentum and accompanying instruments and effects for about half of this track. then we're treated to some almost king crimson-esque drum rhythms, later joined by horns and some lovingly produced guitar effects. this continues for the rest of the track, the beat changing and maturing after about 10 minutes, then dying away in the last minute or two of the track, leaving space for one more short piece of music before ending.
the last track, named motherf**ker=redeemer, is a wonderful track, certainly the best on the album, and in my opinion only bettered by Providence from the first album. it's also the longest track gybe have ever produced, at about 32 minutes. it starts off with some singular notes in a slow rhythm, after a while picking up a flute and some wonderful guitar. then, surprisingly, we get a very bassy drumbeat. however, as unexpected as it may be, it certainly does sound great, and adds some warmth to the track. over the next 5-10 minutes, the volume and tempo increase greatly, with some more king crimson style drums, and some lovingly atmospheric guitar. then it all dies away, leaving only some effects-heavy guitar to start over again. as it builds up the volume and slight gain, bass and other instruments start to come in. then, as we reach the 20-minute mark, the track really becomes brilliant. some gracious guitar and drum beats work up to an intense, almost hallucinogenic piece of music that really gives you the feeling of humbleness and greatness at the same time, that is the finest quality of gybe's music. a truly wonderful track to finish off an uncommonly good album.
godspeed produce a wonderfully unique musical sound that is a beautiful metaphor, or metonym, for how life should sound. it may sound silly, but once you start listening to godspeed you black emperor, everything changes. the way you see music, life, and people.
if you're familiar with godspeed then you will certainly love this album. if you haven't heard of them at all, I suggest you start with f#a#infinity, or the (cheaper) EP, a slow riot for new zero kanada.
if you buy and enjoy this album, I suggest you purchase anything by 'do make say think', and maybe some 'fly pan am' for good measure.
on 19 May 2007
There's no doubt these guys can make moving music that has real depth and feeling that will take months if not years to explore properly.... just beware. I want to add another perspective to the reviews your reading
I stumbled across these guys through Listmania recommendations and probably, like you reading this now, thought this may just be your nirvana. In some ways it may well be, but expectation can disappoint.
Post-rock sure is a broad cloak worn by many, so what you must know is that, in my opinion, one thing this is not is heavy. Many reviews talk about the quiet then loud approach, the light then dark, the distorted guitars, the apocolyptic climaxes etc etc. In fact these guys seem over and over to be referred to as the gods in this field. I don't buy this.
Here GYBE are a kind-of rock version of Moby on some sort of hallucinergenic bender, and don't take this as a slur. They're nothing like as heavy as even ISIS. They're genuinely experimental, no instrument or arrangement off bounds, and like Moby they can make simple hooks last a lifetime. But when they build to climax they do not do so in the raw, overpowering, forceful way that bands like say, Cult of Luna, do. They do so in a way that suggests they think a little screaming, turn up distortion and hit the cymbols a little harder will do it. In my view this doesn't work. All they really achieve in these moments is a high pitched din that annoys you like the screaming kid behind you on the airplane who keeps kicking your seat.
Look, I'm not saying this is bad... It's a fine CD but you need to go in with open mind and not expect these guys to be something they're not, most probably based on the reviews of people who have come to this genre through the ambient route rather than the metal one.... World's collide eh? Now there's a heavy band.
I love this album for the strings and the quiet stuff.... that's where they're at their best. You guys looking for light moving through to proper HEAVY experimental stuff need Cult of Luna, Pelican, Switchblade...
on 21 January 2012
This album was the soundtrack to the build-up and execution of the Iraq war in 2002-2003 and I remember associating the news reports, debate and protest of the time with listening to this epic album. The gathering storm, shock and awe, US/UK imperialism and the military industrial complex are the subject of this broad sweeping canvas. The powerlessness against the forces at play at this time and the helpless melancholy which this faceless assault provoked in me at the time is brought back nearly 10 years later. GS!YBE captured the moment perfectly.
on 28 November 2013
In my opinion this album does not fall behind albums like F#A# or Skinny Fists, it's simply mind-blowing. Rockets Fall on Rocket Falls is probably my favourite GY!BE track, but the entire album is simply astonishing. Highly recommended to any post-rock fan and a doubtless must-have for GY!BE fans!