Godspeed You! Black Emperor returns with another epic four-track LP for our times, like only this inimitable and venerable ensemble can forge. This most favourable album is not only anarcho-punk as suggested by the title but most likely the most accessible of their work to date, certainly of that which I am acquainted. Despite just four tracks the record is almost 55 minutes in length and spans a journey across soaring, searing melodies.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor released a string of albums from 1997-2002 widely recognized as redefining what punk- and politically-informed music can be, where longform instrumental chamber rock compositions of immense feeling and power serve as soundtracks to late capitalist alienation and resistance. F#A#? (1997), Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada (1999), Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven (2000) and Yanqui U.X.O. (2002) are all variously regarded as classics of the era and genre. Following a seven-year hiatus that began in 2003, Godspeed returned to the stage in December 2010 and its post-reunion period has now lasted a decade, marked by hundreds of sold-out live shows and three additional albums (aside from G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END!) which have all been met with high acclaim.
With G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END! Godspeed harnesses some particularly raw power two riveting 20-minute side-length trajectories of noise-drenched widescreen post-rock. Field recordings and roiling semi-improvised passages frame the epic tracks, Military Alphabet and GOVERNMENT CAME. The two shorter self-contained 6-minute pieces find the band at its most stripping, raw and blaringly beautiful. Poignant atmospherics, drone, hypnotic swingtime crescendos, layered towers of distorted clarion sound mean that the new LP showcases the facets of the band. Twenty-five years on, this new album does not only feel as accessible but as vital and timely as any in Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s storied discography. Recorded and mixed in Montréal back in October 2020 at the group’s homebase studio Thee Mighty Hotel2Tango for the first time by Jace Lasek, the veteran award-winning indie producer (and co-founder of The Besnard Lakes), this is perhaps the reason behind the slight change in sound and personal appeal.
G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END! pulls us in from beginning to end with the build and distortion of A Military Alphabet through to the more serene and surprisingly calming Our Side Has to Win, having somewhat of a cathartic effect. Not oft I used these words to describe a GYBE album, but with a pandemic in our midst, perhaps they’ve decided to create more light at the end of the tunnel than per usual, unless it’s Lasek’s influence. A wondrous and stunning album from GYBE that is perhaps my favourite to date.
G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END! is out now, via Constellation Records