Stem Stem in Electro
HRSTA’s de facto leader, Mike Moya, was not only a founding member of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, but he also has the honor of having one that band’s best songs named after him — “Moya,” from the stellar Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada EP. Although Godspeed has carried on on a path similar to their early days, it’s easy to see that Moya’s departure from the band had more to do with spreading the sounds of apocalypse in a different outfit, rather than because of creative differences.
Stem Stem in Electro is a mixture of cinematics: at one moment it’s rural/western and the next it’s urban/claustrophobic, all the while tinged with an aura of desperation. The inclusion of occasional group vocals and chants adds to the primal, feral nature of the music. Splitting their time between the lyric-driven tracks and the instrumentals, the band’s pleading words come across like crackling radio transmissions, urgent but destined to be lost in the surrounding noise.
“Swallow’s Tail” is perhaps the most Godspeed-indebted track here. It begins with a soft guitar line threading through the ether, buoyed slowly by strings and mounting distortion before releasing itself in the aural equivalent of opening the Ark of the Covenant. “Heaven is Yours” is the disoriented aftermath set against screeching steel towers and low, mournful guitar tones. “Une Infinite De Trous En Forme D’Hommes,” the closer, is an ambling, red-sunset tune. It’s ideal exit music for the band, carrying them off into an unknown future while trying its hardest to hold onto optimism. Given Godspeed’s lengthy hiatus since recording their last disc and with Mt. Zion becoming a completely vocal-based group, HRSTA stands as the band on Constellation Records that’s most likely to satisfy the need for string-laden end-of-days records. This is it, folks.