Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To The Heavens, 180G Black Vinyl 2LP
Jeremiah is Godspeed You Black Emperor!'s prophet. The Hebrew emblazoned in dirty copper on the cover of their Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada EP belongs to him: tohu-va-bohu, it reads: void and waste. The lengthy passage on the sleeve of that EP is lifted from his book. Blase Bailey Finnegan III, the Providence street preacher whose rantings appear on the two first Godspeed You Black Emperor! releases, is his avatar. The music of Godspeed, for all its bombast and lament, extends Jeremiah's ministry into a new millennium. Preaching in a vocabulary drawn from Boston hardcore, in a spidery array of radical leftist rhetoric, Godspeed You Black Emperor! have delivered a blistering (albeit politically imprecise) homily on the new world order.
That said, the Canadian nontet's Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven is a massive, achingly beautiful work, alternately elegiac and ferocious. However, Lift plays like an oddly transitional album: much of the first disc presents a refinement of the sound that crystallized on 1999's Slow Riot EP, while the second disc flirts with moments of vertiginous shoegazing, looser rock drumming and reckless crescendos of unalloyed noise. Succinctly, the first disc is easily continuous with their earlier work; the second disc might just be the future. The disparity is immediately striking.
This is not to suggest that the first disc is not wonderful-- it is, but mostly as a cultivation of ideas and sounds embedded in F#A#oo or Slow Riot. The waltz-like grace of the opening part of "Storm" (titled "Levez Vos Skinny Fists Comme Antennas to Heaven") is dominated by rising cello and violin which evolve, with the addition of guitars and martial drum taps, into a loud triumphal procession. Blaring trumpets seem to announce the advent of some head of state, and the whole affair proceeds with military discipline and measured effect. The violent explosion never comes: the parade merely approaches and recedes. -Pitchfork (Rated 9.0)