The aftermath of the global economic crash, protests, fruitless wars and widespread complacency . . . the Canadian eight(ish)-piece band GodspeedYou! Black Emperor (GY!BE) has a lot to say about the current state of the world, without speaking any words at all. Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! is the most recent album from GY!BE—the first in 10 years—and consists of four tracks that fill 52 minutes.
GY!BE layers found sound with hidden melodies over drone-based tracks.
The tracks are complex, wild orchestral movements, packed with screaming guitar and anarchist strings. The sound is dense and richly textured, but never falls toward sloppiness. The result is music that’s good for sitting and thinking to.
Three of the four tracks—“Mladic,” “Their Helicopters Sing” and “Strung Like Lights At Thee Printemps Erable,”—make you think that the world is a chaotic, collaps- ing place of which to be afraid. But then the doom and gloom is balanced with the joy-swell crescendo that is “We Drift Like Worried Fire.” Is that hope we hear? GY!BE explores the full spectrum of human emotion, setting fear with joy, guilt with inspiration. The many and large problems of the modern world are set to speechless music, so you have to decide what they’re saying and if you’ll do something about it. If not, you can just enjoy the sounds. –Julia Kochuk