As I first started listening to this album I found myself a little bit disappointed. 'Is this it?' I thought. There seemed to be nothing here that was not offered by the first album or any Godspeed release. The strings, piano and dialogue samples are all still in place. However, as the album unfolds it soon becomes apparent that the band have made huge steps forward, expanding and improving on the vocal elements that were only hinted at on their debut. There are some tracks here that adhere to an almost traditional rock structure, but it never detracts from the beauty of the music nor does it appear akward sitting next to their instrumental tracks. In short, the music is still beautifully melodic melancholic, but the band has stretched into new musical area's not covered by their debut, or any other GYBE! related release for that matter.
I would imagine most people, like me, will come to this CD through first enjoying the music of Godspeed, but Silver Mt Zion are no mere second rate spin-off.
The band conjure their music using strings, piano and vocals but they achieve their own musical identity. When it works it is gorgeous: the opening track is a beautiful piano piece; `Could Have Moved Mountains' starts from minimal instrumentation and gently builds to a wonderful melody and `The Triumph of Our Tired Eyes' is a superb closer. On this track Ephrim's fractured vocals lend the lyrics real emotional depth.
In places the focus is not so strong. Strings meander somewhat aimlessly in `Built Then Burnt' and `Tho You Are Gone..' and the spoken word piece on `This Gentle Hearts..' annoys me slightly every time I hear it.
However, the band also have the ability to surprise; `Take These Hands..' is an urgent, scraping violin piece with tortured vocals which arrives with a shock from the gentle preceeding track.
To summarise, this CD is full of varied, thought-provoking, interesting and challenging music. Not quite the absolute classic some other reviewers seem to think but very good nevertheless.
Yep, I believe this to be the best release on the label that include's Godspeed You Black Emperor (mostly members of this band anyway), Do Make Say Think etc. This is just an utterly captivating album. From the opening "Sisters! Brothers!.." which weaves beautiful piano and violin melodies, to the REAL album highlight, "Could've Moved Mountains" (one of the best songs ever written), this album is relentless in its waves of power. Not bombastic forcefulness, but gentle, persistent power, drawing you into the richness of the album. Every track is brilliant, the closing "Triumph Of Our Tired Eyes" is gorgeous, with evocative phrases and echoing guitar, with beautiful violin counterpoint, and some gentle pizzicato. If you enjoyed their first release, or any Godspeed (especially the less frenetic bits) you really HAVE to own this album. It's that simple. In my all-time Top 10.
This has to be the best album of the year by far. While their first was stark, this album is more lush with melody (partly due to the band expanding to six musicians). There's more of a gybe! influence on this album than the last There are also a lot more vocals but these add to the texture of the record and the singing's a lot better than it was on 'movie(never made)' The first track is one of the best and picks up where the last album left off with repetition of violin and piano. There's a thin fuzzing sound in the background that just eats away inside you. It also has one of the best piano lines I've ever heard. The next two tracks are very similar, in fact there isn't any change between them except 'Built then Burnt(Hurrah!Hurrah!)' has a monologue speech from a young boy at the start of it. 'This Gentle Heart's...' with its gentle chiming in the background and shimmering guitar reverb is a perfect nighttime song. The next song 'Take these hands...' is brilliant. Heavily treated vocals and fast paced violins rush towards a dramatic conclusion. The enxt song though is more relaxed and laid back. Efrim whispers the vocals and the song lulls along in agaonsing sadness. It's a little bit like '13 angels' from their last album, but even richer. 'Tho you are gone I still often walk w/you' sounds like something out of a horror film. It's the most haunting piece they've ever done, but probably the worst on this album, not that it's a bad thing. It just doesn't meet the standard of the rest. 'Could've moved mountains...' is the most gybe! influenced song on the album, with a mass of distorted guitars leading to a furious climax. I found the ending to this hard to listen to because all the distortion hurt my ears; it is very raucous and hard to listen to, but still great. The last song though is nothing but pure magic. Beautifully sad vocals mixed with a distorted guitar and lush violins weeping away as Efrim rants: 'Musicians are cowards'. This is one of the few albums that had legitimatly made me cry, cry with joy; the only other one being 'Lift your skinny fists...'. If you like that album or any other work by any other Constellation artists, you'll love this. Whether it's better than their first album or not is a matter of serious debate. Both have their own unique qualities to them. But this is a soundtrack for the saddest day of your life. So all hail Sisters(Sophie, Beckie, Jessica)! Brothers(Efrim, Thierry, Ian)! for otherwise we have surely lost our way.
This has to be the best album of 2001. If not, one of the best. I got into Godspeed and the Constellation label around the time of 'Lift Your Skinny Fists...', and have been following the label and the Montreal music scene ever since. Along with 'Lift...', this is the best album from that end of the globe. I won't bother going through the tracks, as other people have done that already. I'm just here to back them up - the balance of intense guitar/strings, vocals, mournful sections, and a pop song (?! yes, well almost - 'the triumph of our tired eyes' is about as close as you'll get) is just perfect. Personally, I like it more than their first album for that very reason. It's also much more consice than 'Lift...' because of the length. There's obviously a lot of emotion in this record. Included in the packaging is a poster-sized rant on police and corporations and hope. It shows through onto the recording. Some poeple have commented on the quality of Efrim's voice (the guy who sings). I like it - it adds a rough edge. It's very honest, not like the popstar-autotune rubbish you get these days. So buy it! Another amazing record from Efrim and co...
Beautiful sound, the piano and violins on 'Sisters brothers...' cemented this album to me as one of my all time favourites. If you like music from EITS, Godspeed You!, Sigur Ros then you'll love these guys.
Like their debut, I wasn't impressed at all when i first listened. But it grows on you and you realize how good it is. There's some really interesting textures, and good tunes to back them up. One of my quibbles is that although the last song is good, the vocalist is still a bit weak, albeit better than on 'Movie, never made', the same goes for the person speaking at the beggining of "Built then burnt...", all they need to do is put a bit more strength into it. Despite that, a good album for fans of the genre, a varied and consistently good album.