Music Reviews

The Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band With Choir

“This is Our Punk-Rock,” Thee Rusted Satellites Gather + Sing


My exposure to the Montreal-based Constellation post-rock collective has, for the most part, been limited to Godspeed You! Black Emperor. I was sold on that band from their first note, but I’d never managed to make intersecting events of finding a non-Godspeed album in a record shop and having money in my wallet. I can remember picking up Mt. Zion’s first album many times since all indications lead me to believe that it would be the second most Godspeedian band on the label, considering three of its members are also in Godspeed.

This Is Our Punk-Rock… has been my first opportunity to listen to Mt. Zion at any depth, and I have to say they don’t quite stick to the thunderous rust cloud as closely as I’d thought they would. If anything, they’re the more intimate, personal reaction to Godspeed’s bombast. The songs lament and wander through their intertwining strings, only giving a glimpse of the seething anger Godspeed provides as a release.

Bandleader Efrim supplies a liberal amount of vocals throughout the album, leaving images of missiles in homes and abandoned train yards to compliment the band’s sprawling urban soundtrack. It took a couple of listens to appreciate his slightly off-key voice as another instrument instead of an intrusion of distraction. It adds a more “human” presence and really helps to ground the music at times.

More easily accessible are the wordless choir vocals featured on the opening track “Sow Some Lonesome Corner…” The strength-in-numbers dynamic created by the elliptical arrangements is beautiful. It’s almost like a spur of the moment protest song, innate in every band member, sung before the mind has had a chance to form the words. The choir is reprised during the last minutes of the final track, swelling with more voices each time the refrain (“Everybody gets a little lost sometimes”) is repeated, strengthening the sentiment.

I can’t imagine that fans of Godspeed or the more orchestral side of post-rock will be disappointed with this album. Urban sprawl and gentrification are, without question, horrors of the modern world, and the fact that Mt. Zion can create such a vibrant, emotional and lonesome sound for these events is truly remarkable. I only wish I could’ve had the good fortune to get into this band before now. Find a way to listen to this; you won’t regret it.

Constellation Records:

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