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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
49
f#a#oo
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 6 September 2008
You scarcely notice that the album has started: there's just a growing drone, then a male voice begins to speak: "The car's on fire - and there's no driver at the wheel." Gradually, sentence by sentence, he describes the collapse of urban civilisation. You look at your watch and realise that the standard length of a pop single has already passed and this is still just beginning ...

It's not party music, then; in fact, it's light years away from what's generally accepted as popular music at all. The three tracks clock in at 20 minutes or so each. Each is not a "song" as popular music has understood it, but a suite of several different sections. The instrumentation is surprisingly traditional, guitars and strings (even bagpipes) but deployed to form a drone-heavy sonic landscape more associated with electronic distortion. Voices are rare, generally spoken word sections and/or cut-ups like the one cited above; drums, likewise, occur once in a blue moon. There are long, slow, muted sections, there are occasional loud, fast sections, and once in a while there's a delicate little tune lost in the distance; all of it tied together by an overarching atmosphere of loss and regret.

I liked it: I'm always prepared to salute people wanting to do something different and break out of the straitjacket of the "pop song". If someone wants to stretch out and take 20 minutes, do away with a thudding beat to hammer home the obvious rhythm, experiment with textures rather than banal words, that's fine by me, and this gets 4 stars accordingly. I can't deny, however, that some of the more negative points made by earlier reviewers have validity. There is, for instance, no real logic that designates these four bits of music as part of one composition and those three bits as part of another: you could have placed the track divisions in totally different places, or indeed have presented this as an 11-track album, without changing a note. There's also, undoubtedly, an element of sameness about it: slow-and-quiet / slow-and-loud just about covers a lot of the album. All of which is to say that although this certainly seeks to stretch our concept of popular music, you are not going to find an hour's worth of "composed" music with an overarching logic in which one part builds on another and there's a sense of necessary consequences being explored: this is not Beethoven, there isn't that level of attention to the import of each individual note, and it doesn't repay that sort of listening. It does make an extremely good soundtrack, however, in the right mood, be that indoors or out: I have particularly strong memories of listening to it sitting in the car in an empty multistorey car park in Croydon, on one of the grey mornings between Christmas and New Year. (Come to think of it, that image might well sum up the mood of the album better than anything I've said above!) So, could actually be 3 stars for there being, maybe, less to this than there seems at first, but I'll give it 4 for being prepared to do something different. I hope, however, that I've described it in such a way as to make it clear that this is the sort of thing that divides people and anything from 5 to 1 (or less) is entirely believable, according to personal taste. I like it; I hope you will; but I won't hold it against you if you hate it. Give it a go, anyway.
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on 14 October 2009
the first thing i remember about listening to this album for the first time, was the poignancy of the monologue in the opening half of "The Dead Flag Blues" - a woe begotten lament which perfectly establishes "F#A#oo" as Godspeed You! Black Emperor's staple song. it seems to establish everything they set out to achieve: aching beauty played by the strings and weeping guitars put next to the ominous field recordings of the steam train passing into the slow funeral dirge of "Slow Moving Trains" and "The Cowboy".
the steady, ever growing majesty of the other staple "post rock" bands such as Explosions In The Sky and Mogwai never quite develops with Godspeed, instead, it meanders through movements, delicately establishing each section with brittle arrangements and a sense of intimacy which permeates throughout every inch of the album's opening gambit, if not their entire discography.

that said, "F#A#oo" doesn't intend on remaining this timid standard bearer for just being long winded for the sake of it. many pieces of music on this album rumble away with the best of them, the middle section of "The Sad Mafioso..." positively explodes out of the speakers, galloping into your head with an intent so deadly, you'll cower at the power these 9 (probably more) men and women are capable of producing. furthermore, whereas the band don't shy away from the fact their music is predominantly drawn out and deeply connective with the listener, there are aspects of the album which suggest a want for something more immediate.
the opening of final track "Providence" for example, yearns to maintain it's momentous glock refrains but just doesn't seem to have the mettle to do so. same can be said for the choice of spoken word interludes. often in their work, these passages contain familiarity; often commenting on some injustice or other with which the band take qualms (the aforementioned monotone in the opener for example proves to be the albums undoubted finest moment). however, some of these choice snippets really disallow the album to breath and therefore add a sense of frustration.

don't let this put you off though. if the development of music bores you and you desire a quick, impersonal fix of pleasure, please, don't waste your time with this band.
for those who want to delve into themselves and the inner workings of the deepest sadness and euphoria, look no further. F#A#oo will provide you with some of the most solemn, honest and steadily hard hitting music ever created, and for that, we can all take the time to pay close attention.
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on 5 December 2007
I literally just bought this out of curiosity because I'd heard the odd good thing about it here and there. As soon as Dead Flag Blues kicked in I was blown away. It begins by setting the scene with a stark monologue, before the violins glide in.

Inside about the first 2 minutes you know you're in for something special. I would say this is a concept album, it seems to be anyway, on the theme of modern living in an industrial society. It conveys so many emotions over the hour, but overall it is uplifting and hopeful.

It's a very hard album to describe because it's basically an hour of ambient/chillout music with some voice samples and sound effects to carry the "story" along.

I think someone said, think Pink Floyd without the vocals, regarding this album; and they'd be right. One of the best progressive albums I've heard in some time. I'm pretty eager to get some more stuff by this band now.

Peace,
Dom x
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on 26 October 2007
I don't actually have a record player, yet even that can't stop me from loving this album. The famed train-crushed penny is present in all its mangled glory, as are numerous gorgeous photos and other images, not to mention the hand-written thank you note from one of the guys at Constellation (cheers Sean). This is why the MP3 age sucks; such delights will never be offered to those seeking an easy fix, and this is why you should support you independent labels, even one with such a huge cult following as these Canadian dudes. Call it materialistic if you will but, for me at least, these are just some of the benefits of being a fan of musicians and labels who care more about art than money. My eternal respect and admiration.
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on 8 January 2011
A truly awsome album.
Grim, dark, angry and tragic.
Crank it up loud, then go louder, make your speakers burst and your neighbours go mad.
Amazing mix of blank verse poetry with orchestral and rock backing. What prog rock might have been if they had not taken too much acid and been into faeries and pixies.

The reviewer who said it was boring obviously was not playing it loud enough, it does not work as background music it is made to be focussed on.

There is ferocious guitar, massive drums, sound effects. A great party killer.
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on 5 January 2004
I put F#A#Infinity on a few days ago after playing it to death when I first discovered it a while back, and it only seems to have got better in time.
The first album from GYBE leads us into a post-apocalyptic world, beautifully soundtracked by guitars, violins, pianos and true to life sound samples (voices, trains etc.). Just listening to the first two minutes you know that you're hearing something very special - I dare you to not feel haunted by the opening "Dead Flag Blues" monologue.
Great to listen to at 5 in the morning.
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on 2 March 2015
Just to add my twopenneth to what has already been written by other reviewers,these are my comments on this album in the cd format.
Simply,this is GSYBEs best record to date,and that`s saying something.
It`s also one of the greatest pieces of work by any band over recent years.
If you`re a fan of the "cinematic" feel created in music then you`ll find much to admire here.
The album should be seen as one long piece,which flows from one movement to the next,drawing the listener in to an almost religious experience.
It is ambient,stark,atmospheric ,at times explosive,but never dull.
One of a very few albums which can rightly be called a masterpiece

This is just an essential album in every way.
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on 22 August 2006
Ok, heres the deal. It only gets 4 stars because 5 stars is perfection, and I believe theres only one or two albums out there that are perfect. Nevertheless, this album is like nothing else I've ever heard.

To fully appreciate it, I feel you must do the following:

1. Watch 28 days later. Never before has a piece of music fitted so perfectly into a scene as when the lead character is roaming a deserted London.

2. Buy or borrow the CD. Its Godspeed's debut album, and includes the track from the aforementioned film. For those of you who havent heard of them, think Sigur Ros with atom bombs, razor blades and the seven plagues. For those of you who havent heard of Sigur Ros, shame on you.

3. Listen to the album. I find it sounds best if you lie on your back in a darkened room, preferably past midnight when the streets are emptying and your house starts to make wierd noises. If you've got a decent set of headphones, even better. If you're not hooked after the monotone, frankly horrifying speech in the first track, switch off. This isnt an album for you.

4. Once you've listened to the CD a few times, get the vinyl edition. Its the same, but different (if that makes sense). The music sounds much more raw, like it hasnt been over "digitalised". The order is jumbled around a bit, and seems to flow better. Plus you get loads of cool bits and bobs, like a Canadian penny, crushed by a high speed train (apparently) and the "faulty schematics of a ruined machine" blueprint. Very wierd yet undeniably compelling. However the greatest touch is the fact that side 2 doesnt have the normal trail out at the end that makes the turntable cut off, the last few seconds are repeated potentially forever, until you turn it off manually. Part genius, part irritating, all unique.

5. Accept the music for what it is. Brilliantly uncommercial, way off the beaten track, dark, apocalyptic, experimental prog rock. Never before has a band managed to capture the end of the world in such a convincing way. These guys are making music that feels right to them given the sorry state of our planet (climate, politics, society and all), and they know everyone isnt going to like it. Thats the point, I believe.

If you like what you hear, then you'll love the next 2 albums ("Slow riot for new zero Canada EP", and "Lift your skinny fists like antennas to heaven") Slow riot... is essentially a tag-along to the end of F# A#, and Lift your... sees the group reach the dizzying heights that we always knew they were capable of. Yanqui UXO is also worth a listen, but never quite reaches the same level as the others, in my humble opinion.
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on 21 September 2001
Just when you think you've run out of CDs that do anything more than sound good, something like this comes along. Something that does what music is supposed to. Stops you. Right where you are. Makes you listen. Makes you wish you could do more than just listen to music. Gives you a stark, beautifully realised, dark world, full of urban despair and expertly mixed guitar, strings and cinematic prose. This is the best CD I've heard in a long time.
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on 26 October 2012
I was recently given as a gift Mumford & sons latest cd but after having recently bought F#A#0o I just couldn't get into The Mumford CD at all. The Godspeed you cd is just brilliant. Play it through a good hifi and it just resonates around your listening space. It is interesting music that grabs me instinctively on a gut level. There are many top bands out there that don't get recognized and 'GodSpeed you...' are one. Would I recommend it? Without hesitation although obviously what music one likes is a subjective thing.
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