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Customer Review

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Efrim Menuck for president (4.5 Stars), October 20, 2012
This review is from: 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! (Audio CD)
I like Explosions in the Sky and appreciate some of the less bombastic work of Mono, but I've often wondered whether the spirit of experimental rock in the 1990's, that helped give rise to what was later dubbed Post-rock, has been somewhat lost by the sort of music the Texas four piece and its Post-rock contemporaries have been making throughout the last ten years. To paraphrase a quote from Tiny Mix Tapes "Is Post-rock about stretching the possibilities of the live rock band, or delivering the emotional peaks and crescendos of the classical orchestra circa high-romanticism, with the economy of a touring punk band?" Godspeed You! Black Emperor is often seen as being one of the bands that turned Post-rock into something of an unrestrained spectacle in the late nineties. Their mixture of abstract vocal samples; lengthy movements and Slint indebted crescendo/diminuendo dynamics, basically shaped the landscape for what the genre would become in the 2000's.

If it weren't for the fact that Godspeed released several masterworks in this style before going on a ten year hiatus, they perhaps could be blamed for the lack-lustre state in which post-rock currently finds itself in. Of course it would be churlish of us to ridicule GY!BE for having such a strong influence on the bands that followed them, their amazingly apocalyptic music was far too powerful not to invite imitators. It's just a shame that nobodies been able to take that inspiration (beside Sigur Ros) and produce anything as forward thinking/genre defining as what the Canadian Octet were able to do before retiring indefinitely. When I heard GY!BE had reformed in 2010 I was veritably pleased (as you could imagine), but I didn't think they'd release any new material, at least not in what has become a terribly clichéd form anyway. I was wrong, on both counts. Godspeed have adorned us with their fourth studio album and it's exactly how you'd expect a post-rock record to sound like in 2012, except from the fact that it isn't predictable and boring. Far from that, it's actually rather sublime and pretty much single-handedly redeems/exposes the derivative and unimaginative work that has been posturing as experimental rock during GY!BE's absence.

"'Allejuah! Don't Bend! Ascend!" opens with a 20 minute leviathan by the name of Mladic, It's starts with an ominously slow build-up of treated violin's, distorted guitars and bass, before transforming into a blaring assault of metallic dissonance. As an opener, it's about as punishing as anything I've heard all year. The other beast on 'Allejuah ... is "We Drift Like Worried Fire," a constantly changing suite of, hellacious drumming, feedback, plucked and distorted guitars, and ineffable strings. The intensity of this track generates a gamut of emotions throughout its 20 plus minute playing time, the first half of the track has the elegiacally uplifting feel of Broken Social Scene at their most expressive, whilst the second half mainly gives way to adrenalin fuelled alt rock and aggressively frightening industrial noise. The Two Drone Pieces that seperate the aforementioned tracks "Their Helicopters Sing" and "Strung Like Lights Thee Pretemps Erable" aren't to be overlooked as ambient noodling. They're a deadly mixture of intense cacophony and abrasive electronic noises that help to maintain the punishing feel of this record. Taken as whole `Allejuah is as uncompromising as anything Godspeed have previously released and in virtue of that last statement it's also just as essential to listen to.
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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 20, 2012 3:36:13 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 20, 2012 5:48:50 PM PDT
Jack Tripper says:
Great review Kenneth, with some interesting thoughts on the state of post-rock, but unfortunately it's not allowing me to give you a helpful vote. Is it possible I could have become a "fan," and hence my votes no longer count? I've clicked "helpful" on three or four of your reviews in the past, but that doesn't seem like a lot to me. I'm not sure how all that works, though. I just know Amazon will stop counting someone's votes if they repeatedly vote for the same reviewer, to prevent people from voting for their friends or family (or voting down reviewers they have a vendetta against).

Well, at least you have an official fan now!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 21, 2012 8:37:02 AM PDT
Kenneth says:
Thanks for the support Jack Tripper. I was going to just focus on the new Godspeed record exclusively but then thought you'd already nailed the description of 'Allejuah in your review, so instead I decided to write a quasi essay on the state of post-rock alongside my thoughts on the album (Hopefully my ramblings here stayed in some sort of context;)

P.S. I never knew that about the Amazon voting system, I hope the pos votes that i give out to yourself and other top reviewers haven't been removed.

Posted on Oct 31, 2012 5:18:25 PM PDT
Kell Baker says:
nice read, but as a fan you should know they loathe the term post-whatever or being lumped in and compared with other ensembles.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 6, 2012 10:29:13 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 10, 2012 11:13:38 AM PST
Kenneth says:
That's a fair point, but I feel their style albeit very distinctive, broadly falls under that banner.

Posted on Nov 10, 2012 10:37:58 AM PST
The whole issue, I believe, lies with labeling. The whole term and connotation of 'post-rock' has become rather clichéd. Even the act of trying to define it or even debate what the genre really is has become clichéd. It seems that nearly everybody associated with this genre in any way despises the term and would rather be undefined that labeled as such. Surely this is understandable and I only use the term 'post-rock' as a means of lacking a more specific description. When considering other musicians in the same vein, though, it really is quite a tragedy when people start comparing and contrasting various bands in relation to each other. Performing these kinds of comparisons leads appreciators of the genre to begin to reflect poorly on 'the state' of the genre. It is rather unfair, in my opinion, to claim that a whole genre or style of music, whatever it may be, has declined at the loss of one of its giants. If anybody looks hard enough he or she will find something suitable to his or her tastes. I would assume that Godspeed You! Black Emperor would be against the mindset of losing hope in music and reject the claim that they keep the genre alive. No doubt they are indeed giants of the genre, but to disregard so many other musicians would be a folly. I do not doubt that there are many musicians who don't push themselves to a maximum limit, but to generalize that judgement would be dangerous to me.

I think I took a long time to really say nothing. I suppose my main intent was to give a little hope to the world of music and not despair at the loss or absence of a determined 'great.'

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 10, 2012 11:02:29 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 10, 2012 11:10:23 AM PST
Kenneth says:
I won't quibble with you Nathan Hatton, as I appreciate what your saying. Perhaps my critique of 'Post Rock' is really a indictment of a lot of so called experimental music that has been made since GY!BE's absence. That said i'm not stuck in 1990's or anything, their are a multitude of oustanding bands still making great music today, I just feel that the boundaries of rock music aren't being as forcibly smashed down in the 21st century like they were during and preceding GY!BE's era thats all.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 11, 2012 1:36:50 PM PST
Hopefully I didn't sound like I was chastising you as that was not my intention. In fact, I agree a great deal with what you said as I have also noticed a lot of lackluster acts rising in the genre these days. Perhaps I am just trying too hard not to fall back into generalized thinking so that I still have hope for future music. Haha

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 12, 2012 5:08:06 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 12, 2012 5:13:14 AM PST
Kenneth says:
No offence taken mon ami and I think your point is a valid one. We shouldn't be too pessimisitc about the music of this current generation or future generations. The Post-rock genre has probably just had it's hey day like every great sub genre of rock to emerge over the last 50-60 years. That doesn't mean to say that more innovative music that's post-rock influenced won't come along and wow us just like Tortoise, Mogwai, Swans, Talk Talk, Slint, Disco Inferno, Stereolab, Sigur Ros and of course Godspeed did, back in 1990's and early 2000's.

Posted on Dec 7, 2012 6:25:42 PM PST
Relytia says:
Fantastic review Kenneth! Your views on the state of post-rock as an umbrella genre were really interesting to read, although I'd argue that some giants, like Sigur Ros and Mogwai, have carried the post-rock banner forward with pride. Others, like Explosions in the Sky and Mono have also done pretty well.

Can't wait to hear this album. I was so incredibly excited when I first heard Godspeed was getting back together to tour. I guess time got away from me, because it wasn't until last week that I even learned this album existed. If it is even half as good as "Lift your skinny fists like antennas to heaven," then I'll be a very happy camper.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 7:36:35 PM PST
Kenneth says:
Glad you enjoyed the review Relytia and I hope you enjoy this album when you hear it too. As i said in my write up, it doesn't revolutionize the genre but it does galvanize some of the same feelings that the golden era of post-rock was able to.
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