Yanqui U.X.O.by Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Montreal politico-art/music terrorist unit Godspeed You! Black Emperor has been working on the material for Yanqui U.X.O. (unexploded ordnance-landmines) for the past four years. Some of the material predates Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven and even Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada. Recorded with Steve Albini, the nonet that is Godspeed has issued its most mysterious recording yet. The sound over these three long cuts, like all of the band's recordings, develops slowly over time and creates layers of dynamic tension that expresses itself in waves and off-kilter, shimmering flows. Usually these elements resolve themselves in earth- and ear-shattering, dissonant intensity that leaves the listener emotionally drained -- especially live. But here, a more minimal and -- dare I say -- quiet approach is used. For over 75 minutes, no "found" voices are wafting through the mix like displaced ghosts at a musical inquiry into the nature of mass control and fascism. The ghosts here are not disembodied or free to roam; they are contained within the vibrational structures and harmonic encounters along the dynamic field itself. There is more melody, not less; there are more sections in each piece, complex parts of compositions that articulate themselves more slowly and pronouncedly. Above all, there is beauty, aching, anguished beauty created by dissonance between electric guitars, keyboards, and a string section propelled by a drum kit that is barely contained within the frame of the music. Tonal extensions of simple melodic structures create new melodic fragments that are incorporated into an already growing mass of tension that is alleviated not by force, but by engaging silence as a compositional and improvisational tool. This is evident in all three tunes, but particularly in the second section of "9-15-00," which begins by stepping out of a void into a fullness of color and texture that eventually raises the tension bar over 22 minutes without resolution. For the second section, spare fragments and chords are placed carefully next to the altar of silence and engage it in dialogue, in contradiction, and in echoing its own concerns at how it is possible in our world, very possible, that at the whim of some fool, all of this -- the music; it's haunted, hunted melody; the veritable grain of its voice; along with all life -- could enter into the silence forever. A close inspection of the record cover with its photograph of bombs in free-fall and its indicting chart shows concretely how the major record labels are all involved with the creators and purveyors of weapons of mass destruction. This may be melancholy music, but this is a dark time. At least it isn't music of mourning -- yet. And for the record, though the critical backlash against Godspeed You! Black Emperor has already begun, this is music for a different kind of engagement; one that sets its own agenda and pushes against its own history. ~ Thom Jurek .
- Release Date:
Performance CreditsGodspeed You! Black Emperor Primary Artist,Band
Rob Mazurek Trumpet
Matana Roberts Clarinet
Geof Bradfield Bass Clarinet
Joshua Abrams String Bass
Technical CreditsSteve Albini Engineer
John Loder Mastering
Steve Rooke Mastering
Nadia Moss Illustrations
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This music should be a genre of it's own. It ranges from soft and lovely passages to climaxes full of raw power and devestation. Yanqui U.X.O. is Godspeed You! Black Emperor's fourth and newest album and a true work of brilliance. Lemme start off by saying that GY!BE is one of my all-time favorite bands. I own their entire discography and love every album. There isn't a thing I would change about their music. Their songs follow a similar pattern: take a soft melody and keep repeating it, but BUILD. Build up everything about that melody...the volume, the intensity, the denseness, the speed...absolutely everything. Yanqui U.X.O. follows this same pattern, and this style is working better than ever. But there are a few things different about this album than the rest. For one thing, they focus a lot more on guitars and a lot less on the violins, cellos, horns, bells, etc. But this isn't necessarily a bad thing. They simply use the other orchestra instruments to back up these multiple guitars. They use them to add to the atmosphere rather than using them as a driving force. Another thing about this album is that there aren't any sound clips able to be heard in it. On their previous albums, they had a lot of different noises blended in with their music...interviews, children singing merrily, new age preachers speaking, etc. Now it's just purely instrumentation. I'd say this album is an example of GY!BE at their best, but isn't their best album. I still think they deliver better on f#a#oo and Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada, but that's not to say that this isn't as good in every other aspect. One more thing about Godspeed - this is NOT truly rock music. It's more classical than anything, but it's hard to call a modern band classical, isn't it? If you like GY!BE but don't have this album, pick it up. If you're looking for a place to start, try Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven! (ironically my least favorite of their albums). But if you are a heavy listener of the stuff you hear on the radio and are looking for something like that, stay far away from this. GY!BE is not for everyone. I won't talk about any of the actual songs on this outstanding work of art. I'll leave it to you to listen to it.