31 May 2015

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress


THEY ARE BACK (again)!!!! Godspeed You! Black Emperor were the second band I reviewed when I was first starting this blog (my amateurish attempt to review 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!' via this clever link) and that was a stunning piece of work  It would go on to win the Canadian version of the Mercury Music prize and be hailed as another classic release from the band.  They might not like some of the attention (they had a few choice words after they won the 2013 Polaris Music Prize, to be honest a lot of it made sense and the fact they donated their winnings to a Quebec music education based program to prisoners was a great move), but they have always been an off the beat path type of act; their music is dramatic and not for easy consumption and that is something that has always made them an enigma.  This album represents the first brand new material as their last record was works they had been compiling for years, this is also their shortest record at just over forty minutes.  With these records, it usually takes a while to sink in, but lets see how it pans out....

The opening track is called "Peasantry or 'Light! Inside of Light!" which is an ten minute plus start to this record.  With the drums leading the way, the band crash straight into the song which lurches into view with a loose pace and style that is easy to get lost in.  As with every piece of work by GY!BE you cannot get your head around it within the first few listens and it does need a while to settle, just so you can absorb the complex nature of the work; it is akin to a long journey towards to goal, it is not something to make a short, sharp judgement on and it will be foolish to think other wise.  But it does have the natural peaks and troughs that is natural to this band and sound, but from the opening beat it is a wonderful noise to behold.  Second track "Lamb's Breath" starts with a reverb that would not be out of place on a Sunn 0))) album and it sounds dirty, with a more atmospheric track than "Peasantry or 'Light! Inside of Light!" you have the drone side of the band on show, it is all building from top to bottom and the noise - oh the beautiful noise - is a thing of wonder to this listener.  Any band can make noise, only certain bands can make it captivating.  The penultimate track is called "Asunder, Sweet" and this starts with the same piece of noise that ended "Lamb's Breath"; it is also the shortest number of the album at just under seven minutes.  It has more going on with it than "Lamb's Breath", but in a given sense of the word 'more' when you are talking about beautiful atmospheric instrumental music.  You don't realise how much is actually going on until you dissect the track, the subtle little additions with the strings, the reverb, the noise - it is just wonderful which once again bleeds into the next track.  That track is called "Piss Crowns Are Treble" and this has menace about it from the beginning.  Sounding like the end of a demonic parade, you are thrown into a macabre horror show with all the drama and atmosphere you would expect.  The unrelenting nature of the song is its winning feature and when it finally does have those breaks which a thirteen minute plus song needs along the way, it feels like a euphoric release.  It is with no doubt a long song, but it is such a pleasure to get lost in that you do not care how long it is - it is the crowning jewel to this album.

Once again, Godspeed You! Black Emperor have shown why they are on the top of their game once more; it continues on from "Allelujah....." and shows that the beast is not ready to give in or rest on it's glories.  They are still a raw unit in terms of emotions, but in they use their collective years of experience to make a beautiful piece of art that is going to be in the upper reaches of top releases for 2015 for a lot of people.  I have came away wanting more if I am honest, but that is due to how go this release has been.  This is another great release from the Canadian group and long may they continue - all hail the Black Emperor!

9.5 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost....

Top track - Piss Crowns Are Treble


You can purchase the album on Amazon here

You can visit the Godspeed You! Black Emperor website here

You can visit the Constellation Records website here and purchase the record directly from the label

Here is the link to the community page for GY!BE on Facebook here

You can stream the album on Spotify here

You can stream the album on Deezer here

You can stream the album on Tidal here

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