Thursday, March 26, 2015

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

Godspeed's newest album is streaming now on The Guardian's website.

Whoever wrote the brief accompanying article did a terrible job of introducing the record.  Their last album clocked in at a hair over fifty minutes, so I'm not sure where they're getting "Godspeed's first single album since forever" from this. 

I also don't see how chopping off ten minutes in running time compared to "Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!" leads to a "more focused" version of the band.  The album flows together almost like one, epic piece, it could have just as easily been sequenced as a single, forty minute track.  The run time of the complete album is misleading, this is as loose and drone-y as Godspeed have ever been, either live or on record.  

They played most of this material on their last tour.  For me it was a welcome change for them to start a show with fifteen minutes of droning and focus thereafter on new and as yet unrecorded material.  GYBE are the last band you'd expect to come back after several years hiatus and settle for playing their "hits".  But as brilliant as their swarms of droning guitars can sound when they're trying to zone out and bliss out, their eventual crescendos are missing something significant.  They've become much better at writing the middle of their epic pieces than the beginnings and endings.  The full-on band performances that bookend this album don't gradually introduce a theme or reach a destination.  They churn forward incessantly, as each band member tries to outdo the other in a slow burning competition to pile on as much noise as possible.  The middle two tracks are quieter, but surprisingly more intense.  This version of GYBE are at their best when they let their songs breathe before they regroup for the big finish.  It never used to be that way.  

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