on May 15, 2004
"Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada," the second release from the brilliant Godspeed You Black Emperor, is a 30-minute EP that is probably the band's most mainstream friendly release.
And when we're talking about 30 minutes that bend, swirl, explode, buzz and drone as an extended wall of sound, that's saying quit a bit. Because this stuff isn't mainstream AT ALL.
It is, however, possibly the best introduction for a newcomer to the band, more rooted in traditional noise rock than their other releases, and easily digestible at just 30 minutes or so.
Trying to describe the music of Godspeed You Black Emperor is like trying to describe a dream. You can offer an accurate description, but actually capturing the essence is difficult. One must experience it firsthand.
So, too, is the music difficult to describe. You can describe the instruments and how they go about their business, but until you hear it, you won't have a clear picture of what this band is all about.
Built upon layers of instrumentation by a band that is at times more than a dozen members strong, Godspeed You Black Emperor, or Gybe for short, mix airy, noisy guitar with strings, sound collages, piano, chimes, and much 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 than what they began as. This isn't simply droning, lulling music. The effect 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 music conjures images in your head.
This second release is more focused that the first album. Here, rather than the mish mosh of smaller pieces and collages strung together on the first record, this EP shows Gybe evolving into what they have become, working out what is essentially a single piece (despite "songs" being listed) over 30 minutes. The music rises and falls. The layers here are dense and thick, rising and falling like a tide. Strings swell up and dominate, and then guitar takes over, and then some twisted sound effect. Transition pieces are overlaid with the spoken words of an insane man.
If it all sounds very anti-radio, it is. You won't find this stuff on a top 40 station.
Godspeed You Black Emperor is a superb band for those who enjoy lengthy songs, sprawling soundscapes and music you can sink into. It's a heady experience listening to this stuff. And it's worth it.
on February 4, 2004
This is by far my favorite GYBE! recording. First of all it is an EP. It only has two songs but clocks in around 30 minutes regardless. Fans of GYBE!'s other works will not be disappointed with this release.
The first song, Moya, is a beautiful and inspiring masterpiece. In typical GYBE! fashion, it starts quite and serene and builds up to quite down again and to finally climax in a massive orchestral crescendo.
The second song, BBF3, which stands for Blaise Bailey Finnegan the third, is the most powerful song by GYBE! to date. It opens with a man speaking to an interviewer. The man is basically expressing his discontent with America and its government. This seems rather old hat for the band, but it is a very powerful statement that the man so passionately presents climaxing in a reading of Virus, a song by Iron Maiden. All during this powerful dialogue the band is playing , first quite and building in intensity as the man gets more and more emotional. When he is done speaking, the music takes over in full force, with more intensity, emotion and despair than any other GYBE! song. After the climax somewhere between 14/15 minutes, a group of stringed instruments takes over and ends the album on a sombre, and thought provoking note, thus ending another amazing Chapter in GYBE!'s amazing career.
on October 21, 2003
This album is like most of GYBE's work: beautiful, alarming, tought-provoking--in short, utterly amazing. "Moya" is one of their best efforts to date; the album is worth buying for that song alone. The dramatic build of the song is incredible; the climax is incredible; the denouement is incredible. If you're already a GYBE fan and you're used to Lift Your Skinny Fists and Yanqui, Slow Riot may leave you a little wanting. It's short. But it's as beautiful as either album mentioned above.
The second track on Slow Riot features a strange dialogue about the state of American government and music that comments on it better than any words could. Here we find less of GYBE's drama and more of their skill to arrangement words and music such that the effect is perhaps more dramatic than their most dramatic works.
If you're new to GYBE, don't buy this album first. Try on something a little longer and easier to digest--Yanqui U.X.O. is a good one for newbies, imo. But as you become used to them, consider adding this one to your collection. I find it indespensible for "Moya" alone. GYBE has no rival in the contemporary scene; they may not even have any equals. In short, if you like GYBE, you'll like this album. It's GYBE doing what they do.
on September 28, 2003
Of all the CD's in my vast and ever-expanding collection, "Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada" may well provide the best "mood music." Blurring the lines between rock and the symphony, instrumental ensemble Godspeed You Black Emperor prove that modern music doesn't need vocals to be powerful and evocative. This music is intense, darkly emotive and always brilliantly crafted and played. In less than half an hour, "Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada" displays more power than 99 percent of the bands on the radio will in their whole careers.
The opener "Moya" may start out as a slow and minimal string-driven song, but that doesn't last long. It soon evolves into an incredibly dense, cathartic soundscape, with new instruments entering the fray until they build to a thunderous crescendo. Although this music is largely orchestral and genuinely pretty, make no mistake: these guys can rock. Hard-hitting drums and piercing guitars join with the exquisite strings to create mammoth swells of eerie orchestration. Grand melodies abound throughout the song, resulting in an epic, symphonic sweep that few can match.
The second track, "BBF3," may be even more entrancing. This song doesn't have any vocals, but it does introduce some words in the form of a paranoid rant interspersed with the music. Rather than becoming a distraction, however, the dialogue only serves to add to the song's already dramatic air. Not that GYBE need much help in creating drama: "BBF3" exploits tension and dynamics in a manner that would make Mogwai proud. Quiet, subdued passages build anticipation before giving way to full-on onslaughts that may actually make you bang your head. Around the seven- and twelve- minute marks, there are transitions so well-executed they had me twitching from pleasure overload, and you may well find yourself having a similar experience.
Perhaps most importantly, this album (or EP, as the case may be), is made to last. Although the inital jolt of hearing these songs is often staggering, repeated listens reveal even more wrinkles, ensuring that anyone with an ear for detail can find hours of enjoyment here. For the discriminating music listener, this CD is a must. So dig in.
on June 5, 2003
The most important thing that a person must have when listening to Godspeed is patience. With each record of theirs that I have, I've always had to wait through several weeks of listening before the power and beauty hit me.
This ep is no different. It's not just the same chords and melodies repeated like some may say. It doesn't have the melodic diversity that classical music has, but this isn't classical music so that comparison shouldn't be made.
This album is full of emotional peaks and valleys because of the volume changes and the changing mood that is evoked by tensions and releases. During the intense parts of the record you can feel yourself floating up to the clouds, and then slowly coming back down to earth when the music eases back off.
The way the music on the second track hangs off of the sampled guy ranting about the government is fantastic and is always fun to listen to. This is a definite step up from their first album. It's more cohesive and shows growth in song writing ability.
on February 17, 2003
"Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada" was a disc always on my list of CDs to buy but I was glad I waited 'till just recently to buy it because now I see more than I would've seen in 99' no doubt, why this is such an important piece of music.
As an American living in a post-Sept.11 world where we live under the constant fear of terrorist attacks ..... In a world, where war is around the corner and everyday on the News we hear our daily life being threatened and the economy starting to look like a depression. I feel that "Slow for New Zero Kanada" is the soundtrack to daily life for me. The first time I heard this album, I thought of everything that is going on around me and what it will surly bring(which is the all around feeling of this album): doomsday. Chills went down my spine as the sampled voice of a man from the streets on the second track, is asked "Where do you see the country being in 2003?"(The year I'm listening to this album and all that is going on), the man replies "I don't have a mind that inhumane." The album sleeve also contains verses from the Bible adding to the doomsday effect.
Having said that, the music is fantastic. If you are into post-punk instrumental experimental type stuff then you must get this. The disc is two tracks which makes up 28:36 minutes in total. Both songs have minimalist to full sound progressions which feature violins to guitar noise to an orchestra to samples of a man from the streets being interviewed. This disc is not for everyone but those who are open, will be thrilled by this apocalyptic masterpiece.
on January 1, 2003
Even though the songs and the cd as a whole are relatively short compared to other vast epics on other GYBE discs, the songs are still epic, maybe even more. Both songs ceate an entire spectrum of emotions, mostly depression and sadness but also anxiety, hope, even fear. If you're already familiar with this band you'd know the songs swim through steady and then calm waters, always building up to the next point with cresendos and climaxes. Instrumentation includes cellos, violins, violas, guitars, bass, and percussion. It might be generally described as a collision of rock and classical music.
The first song, "Moya" doesn't have any samples or talking in the background. Nice to get away from it once in a while. This song seems more joyful than the next one, I get images of my head of someone running very fast but sometimes in slow motion or through some obstacles and being very excited to wherever he's going. The general theme of the song stays the same through all 10 minutes of it, but has sort of a hidden intricacy and transformation.
In the second song, "BBf3" there are a lot of subtle vocal parts twisting around with the incredible musical climaxes. You might think this guy talking about his hatred towards the American Government and paying his speeding ticket might get old after a few listens, but it never does. It is always very interesting to listen to it with the soft music overlapping at the moment and you might find new things he didn't seem to say last time you listened to it. You might even be able to "choose" what to focus on-- the talking or the music. The progression and cresendos and overall atmosphere of this song is mind blowing. There are two main climatic points after sections of talking which make the quieter parts better after you listen to them.
If you're looking for something different to get into that you won't regret...this is it.
on November 24, 2002
maybe i'm cynical, but this disk tries a little too hard to be gut wrenchingly powerful. it starts off nice enough.. some violins and other strings slowly generating a medative tension. then it builds and builds... 10 minutes later.. still building.. wow, this is really powerful (yawn). for godspeed, build-up is their claim to fame, but they don't really do it that well. it feels cheap and forced.. a sloppy drummer who breaks into annoying marching snare drum-rolls at random adds to the cheapness. if people want to hear really well executed build-ups they would do well to check out glen branca, or swans' last studio album.
the 2 stars given here are for the sampled voice that graces the middle of the album.. this is masterful. the build-up finally ends, and the strings play around generating a nice ambient backdrop while a "field interview" of some weirdo discussing his views on the present state of the american government plays in the back/foreground. how well you can hear what is being said depends on what the violins are doing.
then all of a sudden it kicks back in to that 'bring you to your knees coz this is so unspeakably beautiful and powerful' thing, and again, it's done with minimal skill. the strings are really well played, but they way it's orchestrated is terribly half-assed. really just thrown together. what makes it particularily irritating is they operate under the pretense of being really emotionally moving, and they're really just very overlydramatic. maybe they should hire glen branca to orchestrate their future works.. or even my 7th grade band teacher for christ's sake.
on November 21, 2002
This work is unlike anything you have ever heard. Don't expect crashing metal or purely instrumental classical or straight rock, this music is alternative in the true sense of the word.
First of all, it is just two tracks, Moya and Bbf3 (strange already?) each of which is above 10 minutes in length. Each track has movements, repeating themes, slow sections, energetic sections, all tied together with an absolutely amazing progression. I don't know how they do it, but each track seems to flow so smoothly from one part to the next that it totally takes you in. Depending on your current tastes in music, you might consider this progression glacially slow for a rock song, or too speedy for a classical piece, but remember that it is neither. I personally feel that the progression is perfect, neither too slow nor too fast, lingering on each theme for exactly enough time to get explore it properly and develop it, then having a smooth, beautiful transition to the next.
OK, enough of this technical stuff, how does this music make you feel? There is definitely an emotional quality to the music. Calling this music depressing would be like saying the Golden Gate Bridge is orange. I mean, yes, there is definitely an element of depression, sadness, and loneliness, but to say that is all is missing an entire aspect of it. There is also some glimmer of hope, and incredible tension and excitement at some points. "Inspiring" also comes to mind, though not in a typical way. The lyrics (if they can be called that) in the second track are an interview with a man who I think you will agree is very...weird. But the way the music is arranged it seems like it is responding to what he is saying in a most peculiar way...even though at first listen it may seem like there is no connection.
If you can't handle anything with tracks longer than 3 minutes, this is not for you, but definitely try this CD if you want to hear something completely different, inspiring, musically beautiful, and thought-provoking.
on October 7, 2002
Driving cross a desert at night, with the silhouettes of a thousand burnt out mechanical corpses decaying to dust lurching in the red burning shadows, in a car that only wants to break down, or suffocate you with noxious fumes. The moon won't shine, and the stars are all dead, and something is after you in all its faceless horror. But you are consumed by nameless grief, and resignation to the inevitable bad ending of a pointless life. That's how this album feels. It's almost ugly, especially when Billy bada$$ starts ranting and raving. This Canadian group has a real talent for finding insane Americans, and then recording them.
It's pretty disarming stuff, being both minimalist, and haunting, building to a crescendo, exploding, then limping off like some hated beast. There really is nothing in my experience (or collection) to compare it to, other than the 2 other GYBE albums I've managed to find in obscure record shops. It's easier just to buy it here. It's not the best album to show to your friends though, if they listen to different music than you, because they really won't appreciate how incredible this album is. My explanation is at best, poor.