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Montreal-based anarchist collective Godspeed You Black Emperor are responsible for making some of the most awe-inspiring symphonic music of the last decade--but on their fourth record, Yanqui U.X.O, it sounds as if the wind in their sails has dropped from a gale to a breeze. By no means has their resolve faltered: Godspeed are still dedicated to autonomy from a music industry they view as corrupt--witness the sleeve of Yanqui U.X.O, which features a pen-scrawled chart that financially links major record labels to arms manufacturers and the American military itself. But the music here--recorded, for the first time, with Chicago-based producer Steve Albini--lacks the inspiring climaxes and dramatic manifestos that characterised the band's earlier works. The second movement of "09-15-00" displays a serene, windswept beauty. But all too often, individual instruments--celestial guitar roar, keening violin, martial drum signatures--aren't given enough space to breathe, gelling into one characterless drone. And with no atmospheric field recordings to section up its five plodding orchestral passages, Yanqui U.X.O begins to feel like an awfully long 75 minutes. Only the closing "Motherfucker = Redeemer" finds the band hitting their stride, but by then, you're mute with surprise that Godspeed have turned out an album that's anything other than totally excellent. --Louis Pattison
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Top Customer Reviews
This also marks the band's most overtly political record to date. Those who have followed the group know that have strong political opinions, firmly anti-corporate and left-leaning. Here the song titles, the dire nature of the sound (especially in the context of world events), and the liner notes make it clear the band wants to speak. Yet this is instrumental music, and so, unlike when other bands decide they want to offer a message, listeners who are simply not interested will never find this increasing vocal stance intrusive. But it's there for the grabbing for those who want to know more or get involved.
Built upon layers of instrumentation by a band that is at times more than a dozen members strong, Godspeed You Black Emperor - Gybe for short - mix airy, noisy guitar with strings, sound collages, piano, chimes, and more. They take fairly simple musical themes and, using this vast array of sounds, build them up over a long period, morphing simple melodies until they metamorphosis into something wholly different. This isn't simply droning music. This is a journey.
One could liken Gybe records to soundtracks for films that have never been made. It's a description that works, because their routinely music conjures images. It's epic noise rock on a classical music scale.
But none of that does the sounds here justice. Trying to describe the music of Godspeed You Black Emperor is like trying to describe a dream.Read more ›
This may be one of the greatest albums ever made. I recommend this album over that of "Lift Your Skinny Fists..." as well. it just seems to be more "relevant". Gy!be are not about fame or fortune, they are about politics and emotion.
Also, fair warning, there are no lyrics on this album. Unlike Mogwai or Sigur Ros, Gy!be do not have a vocalist. They are squatters from Montreal who live in an abandoned train yard... they choose not to express themselves so directly through words but rather through the way they live. If you can't understand what they are trying to say by their dark, somber music and "conspiracy theorey shouting" album covers then you do not deserve to own this album. This isn't social sattire; this is reality.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Yanqui (Yankee) U.X.O. (Unexploded Ordnance). Figure the rest out for yourself.
This is the musical score for the up and coming downfall of man. Previews for this live event can be found at a local Presidential Administration near you. Own it on DVD or VHS today.
Most recent customer reviews
I can't figure out why people don't find this album as good as the Godspeed's others. In my opinion it easily stacks up to F#A#oo, which is my least favorite GYBE! release. Read morePublished on June 20 2004 by jxst
... while u.x.o. is still great, it just doesnt live up to f#a#, antennas, or slow riot. theirs five tracks - 70 minutes long. Read morePublished on April 20 2004 by lost_weasel
I'm baffled as to how anyone could not regard this as an advance over earlier GY!BE efforts. For one thing, they've jacked the menace element off the charts. Read morePublished on April 14 2004 by Jan P. Dennis
I hate to admit it, but shouldn't these people be getting better as time passes? The first three albums, in my opinion, were great, but this one is... almost annoying. Read morePublished on Feb. 1 2004
GY!BE are, simply put, putting out some of the finest music currently being produced. I won't overburden you with descriptions of their sound - you can get that elsewhere - but the... Read morePublished on Dec 19 2003 by Lowell Yaeger
There is nothing to this band's music. It is simply turgid and slow without being in the least hypnotic. Read morePublished on Oct. 31 2003
To all you folks out there thinking of buying this album - Think again. I'm a huge fan of all GY!BE albums besides this one. Those are your best bet. "Yanqui U.X.O. Read morePublished on Oct. 24 2003 by Amazon Customer
G.Y.B.E. is quite an amazing assemblage of talent...regardless of how you feel about the "post-rock" era this album is stunning in its comlexity and subtle hints at a... Read morePublished on Sept. 22 2003 by Vince
GY!BE defies a rational critique. This canadian nonet defies rational description. This album defies any other group of musicians on the planet to step up to the plate and try to... Read morePublished on Sept. 20 2003 by TensionExperiment
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