Oct 122012

I might take it on the chin for this one, if my spouse’s reaction to Godspeed You! Black Emperor is anything to judge by. Ms. Jade is very vocal in her dislike of this Montreal collective. You know how some people turn green and can’t even be in the same room as tequila after having gotten sick on it? It’s that kind of reaction. And that makes me scratch my head.

Rockets Fall On Rocket Falls


So, I don’t know where RTH-ers are gonna stand on 20-minute long instrumentals of epic guitar glory, seasick violins, hypnotic bagpipe drones, stately drumming, insurrectionist soundbites and the loose-tight-loose woven compositions from the enigmatic and inscrutable GYBE. The time is right, however, since they’ve just released new material.


The Dead Flag Blues

I say they’re sublime. Taking that odd name from a 70’s Japanese biker documentary, and subsisting on a word-of-mouth congregation, they play live with all the aplomb of a professional chamber group, while grimy and arcane film clips collage the stage. Talk about a zoned-out audience!

Motherfucker=Redeemer (Part One)


The sound is demanding, and also ambient. Difficult to unwrap, hard to find lucidity. Godspeed excels in symphonic movements that gather clouds and bloom, inviting periods of private focus and daze, are best for beatitude and elation.

Where do you stand? Rapturous or Overwrought?


  14 Responses to “Gathering Storm”

  1. BigSteve

    Neither. Boring. Just because you can do something (seasick violins, hypnotic bagpipe drones, stately drumming, etc) doesn’t mean you should.

  2. patrock

    Godspeed You Black Emperor are both rapturous and overwrought. An enigmatic band that is so amazingly arrogant in its delivery yet you’d be hard pressed to recognize one individual member. A psuedo communist collective, inscrutable and so completely affected that you could call it “post-pretentious” …..and I love every second of it.

    I saw them about 10 years ago here in SF at a place that held about 750 people, completely sold out. About half way through the show and during an especially quiet “movement” a guy yelled “FUCK YEAH!!” …..like he was watching a Ted Nugent show and it was pure genius, even a couple of the musicians laughed.

  3. Slim Jade

    I saw them here in SF at the Warfield about a year and a half ago.

  4. GYBE is one of those forbidding places I have never gone until today. I have a time and place for ambient, droney kinds of things and a time and place for big, sweeping musical gestures but they are usually not one and the same. Pieces and sections of these tracks work very well for me (Moya, in particular) and others are a firm “no, skip that”. Still, one of the more interesting things I heard heard in quite a while.

  5. This is a band I’ve avoided like the plague until today. With the dumb band name I thought they were going to sound like a dimestore version of Janes’ Addiction crossed with Rage Against the Machine. I’m still only a few songs in, but thankfully they’re nothing like those bands.

    At first I thought, “It sounds like they’re trying to generate the accumulated power of overtones like a Glenn Branca, but I’m only liking them about as much as I like Swans.” Not bad, in other words, but not wholly satisfying and releasing, like the feeling I get through my favorite Branca album, The Ascension. (Do you know that album, BTW, Slim Jade?)

    Then I started thinking, “This sounds like all the calm-before-the-storm and sliver-of-sunlight-following-the-storm parts in Starless and Bible Black-era King Crimson without the incredibly satisfying midsection in which Fripp lays in on that one riff that permeates all his rocking guitar moments.” Still, not bad, although at points the sliver-of-sunlight-following-the-storm parts begin to remind me of the downy public areas of “classic” Genesis – a big stinker in my book. Still, not bad.

    I’ll have to listen to the second half of the tracks. I can enjoy this in the background, but one thing I noticed that made it hard for me to fully embrace these songs is that they all/often seemed based around 3/4 rhythms (or rhythms divisible by 3 in the numerator). I realized, when I realized this common rhythm, that I generally don’t like 3/4-type rhythms. They give off a self-satisfied, smug vibe for some reason.

  6. Slim Jade

    He LIKES it, hey MIKEY!!

    Yes, I’m also a big fan of Branca and all that grew out of that scene (Chatham, Swans, Sonic Youth, Jonathan Kane), and yes, there is a lot of math underpinning this kind of stuff (see also: Slint, Tortoise, Mogwai).

    And yes, GSYBE more for ambient introspection. High-level stoner rock, if you will. I once had an epiphany-ish experience listening to them on headphones while I flew out to CA on Christmas day, zoning out while gazing over the badland formations of Nevada below me.

    I like to have them on while I paint.

  7. I can definitely imagine you painting to this stuff – this and “Whiter Shade of Pale.” 🙂

  8. ladymisskirroyale

    I prefer Slint, Tortoise and Mogwai. All three create SONGS. GSYBE seems to want to tell all of us that they are playing “sonic creations” or “music mutations” or some other sort of nonsense.

    I will admit to liking part of most GSYBE tracks (beautiful orchestration) but then they have to kill it by continuing on. I thought I would barf when they took a decent song and then switched into a ska rhythm and then moved back out of it. Just finish the damn song and start a new one!

  9. 2000 Man

    My youngest thinks they’re cool. I don’t get it at all.

  10. misterioso

    High five! “Difficult to unwrap,” that’s rich.

  11. alexmagic

    The “music to paint by” concept isn’t too far off from where I stand on them – and it seems neither of us means that as an insult, though it may sound like one without context – as I’ve found their stuff good background accompaniment for writing in the past. I like their stuff on a track-by-track basis, but have had somewhat less success taking them on in a full album approach.

    My most noteworthy personal experience with GYBE was buying one of their albums at a local record store, and the guy who sold it to me was really excited that I was buying it. I knew just a bit about the band itself at the time, but still felt compelled to bluff my way through as being more in-the-know than I was because he was psyched to talk to somebody about them and I always enjoy that kind of kindred music geek experience.

  12. Yes, “music to paint by” is not a bad thing in my book. I sometimes wonder if a lot of folks don’t have “music to paint by.” Do these people even “paint?” I’m thinking of close, personal friends like andyr and chickenfrank. I know they paint, but I’m not sure they use what is commonly called “background music.” What do you people do, paint in silence?

  13. jeangray

    Musik to take a shit to. Were’nt these guys the hot new thang ten years ago???

Lost Password?

twitter facebook youtube