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The Montreal-based band Godspeed You! Black Emperor is heading back out on the road to bring their innovative chamber rock sound to a stage near you. Don't miss this terrific orchestral outfit.
Whether Godspeed You! Black Emperor is playing the coolest festivals or the most iconic theaters, the group has one of the best live shows in the business.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the multimedia instrumental group from Montreal, craft repetition-oriented, sprawling chamber rock. The group's compositions are patient and minimal in their building crescendos, resulting in a hypnotic and meditative listening experience that almost becomes narrative when mixed with found sounds and the movies of their collaborators.
The group formed in 1994. Later that year, they self-released thirty-three copies of a cassette named All Lights F— on the Hairy Amp Drooling. Their next release, F#A#(Infinity), was first released in a limited run of five hundred fifty LPs on the Constellation label and was later released on CD by Kranky. In early 1999, an EP entitled Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada came out on both labels and, despite the band's intent to remain anonymous, brought them more recognition. Interest in the band continued to increase with new fans, acclaim from The Wire magazine, participation in London BBC's Peel Session, and the band's consistently breathtaking live performances, including a show at the new FIMAV festival in Quebec in 1999 and, later that year, touring with Labradford.
GY!BE concerts usually feature at least nine musicians plus a projectionist. The instrumentation includes percussion, cello, viola, violin, French horn, two basses, and three guitars. The new millennium brought the release of the album Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven, extending the diversity of their orchestral rock even further out into the universe. In 2002, Yanqui U.X.O. (the acronym is short for unexploded ordinance-landmines) followed. GY!BE would then fade into the shadows, where they remained until they reunited on tour in 2010. In September of 2012, they embarked on another tour, stopping at the festivals All Tomorrow's Parties and Pitchfork. In October, the group announced their first album in 10 years, Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! Tim Herzog took over the drums from Bruce Cawdron, and the band made sporadic live appearances over the next two years. They developed their sixth album from late 2013 into 2014. Recorded in North Carolina and Montreal, Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress would mark the group's first single LP release since 1999. Greg Norman would mix and record the release, which would come out in the spring of 2015.
The first of Godspeed You! Black Emperor's albums to chart would be Yanqui U.X.O., which performed fairly well on the Heatseekers and Top Independent albums charts. The politico-music/art terrorist group had been working on the album's material for the previous four years. With Steve Albini on recording, the nonet of Godspeed would release its most inscrutable recording to date. As in all of the group's recordings, the sound of each of the three long tracks builds slowly, creating layers of tension that peel off in waves and shimmering, off-balance flows. In the past, such elements resolve with ear- and earth-shattering intensity that leaves listeners emotionally drained. In Yanqui U.X.O., however, a quieter and more minimal approach is used.
When GY!BE reunited for a 2011 tour after a hiatus of almost 10 years, fans were both ecstatic and nervous. Although there wasn't much new material in the set, the rearrangements of various songs from their repertoire showed that they were still invested in developing on what they'd built. GY!BE announced Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! just a few weeks before its release, their first album after their break. The album contains four tracks – two clocking in at twenty minutes each, and two at about six-and-a-half. The album would almost crack the Billboard 200 Top 40.
Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress would also enjoy considerable success on the charts. Its four tracks recall a suite and had evolved from a previous live version of the material, which fans called Behemoth due to its excessive length and clamor – even by GY!BE's standards. The band has sharpened and carved it in the studio for maximum impact. A little over 40 minutes, it is the band's first album without field-recorded or sampled voices. The opening track, Peasantry or Light! Inside of Light! riffs with thunderous doom, while sawing, squalling, multi-tracked violins and a wall of slow, inexorable guitars fight for control, while Black Sabbath-style drums and a tense, layered bassline play twelve-bar blues variations in waltz time.