Music Reviews




Godspeed You Black Emperor!


I’m usually skeptical of writing a single review for multiple albums, especially when different artists are involved. Lanterna and Godspeed You Black Emperor! share some difficult traits, however, so this is about the only good way I know of doing this.

Both of these records are in what I would term “desert music,” though they’re definitely different from each other. It’s hard to define what makes desert music in the first place, and even harder to differentiate between individual approaches. Like the desert, the music appears simple and uncomplicated on the large scale. Also like the desert, enough patience and observation will yield an enormous amount of detail.

Lanterna’s approach is highly instrumented, with guitar, drums and bass (and occasional vocals) relegated to traditional duties. Building layer upon layer, Lanterna ends up with fantastic vistas where the individual components are not as interesting as their interactions. Majestic and architectural are two adjectives that work well; constructions of guitar build successfully on a rock solid rhythm section. Like early Echo and the Bunnymen without the self-aggrandizing rock-star attitude.

GYBE! has a more minimalist approach. Weirder, too. Combining the occasional spoken word passage with compositions whose nature lies squarely on the avant-garde, the three tracks on f#a#[infinity] (adding up to over an hour) often dance on the edge of audibility, tantalizing the listener with only a rough sketch of what is really going on and leaving a lot of the action up to the imagination. Set aside an hour for this one, and if you have a good pair of headphones, use them – unless you’re paying attention, most of the album’s content will disappear in background noise, giving you only brief moments of “whatever that was, it was interesting.” Kranky Records, P.O. Box 578743, Chicago, IL 60657

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