by / April 9th, 2015 /

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress

 3/5 Rating


The booming waltz shuffle of the opening track ‘Peasantry Or ‘Light! Inside Of Light!’’s overture gives fair warning. This will be no Blue Danube. Notes of the riff dragged out for as long as they can be, huge sound upon huge sound, behemoths crashing against each other. Unstoppable forces meeting immovable objects, the sound of an endless war taking place in space or deep underneath the sea. In other words, massive. What did you expect?

This is GY!BE’s second record since their 2010 reformation, and it’s approaching minimal, for them. Coming in at 40 minutes, it represents their shortest full album since the debut record F# A# ∞ but it carries less layers. Whereas past work was infused with found sound, narration and a sparsely populated post-apocalyptic landscape, Asunder.. wants to create the canvas sonically. Who needs words when you have the bubbling fission of guitars feedbacking, rising, falling like mechanical lungs on what is essentially two songs separated by twenty minutes of feedback noise?

Traditionally GY!BE reveal more and more with each listen, and there’s layers, even nuance in the spaces they’ve created. There’s method to the madness and there’s always beauty within the brutality. It’s tempting to think that these things don’t exist in this release, simply because the noise is apparently without narrative, but that isn’t true. This will forever be a work in progress, an unresolved hum of endeavour and instruments coming to rest with slow and elongated breaths. ‘Asunder, Sweet’ builds back up, skilfully controlled, and seamlessly merges with the last track ‘Piss Crowns Are Trebled’. Somehow the music, riffs, and drums seem suddenly less interesting than the space that’s come before. But every crash and rumble from here on has been earned. The buzzing, industrial bass line, the familiar wail of guitar and violin melodies – it’s all there.

This is the unadorned sound of GY!BE. Just the musicians and the noise they make. At once simple and absorbing, subtle and loud. Just please, stop saying “post-rock” and let us all move on.

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