Godspeed You! Black Emperor
F#A# (Infinity)


5.0
classic

Review

by Dulcinea USER (2 Reviews)
February 23rd, 2007 | 21 replies


Release Date: 1997 | Tracklist


I’ve often wondered about the end of the world. The feeling used to be fear, but it has since turned into a cheerful anticipation. You may think me crazy, and probably rightfully so. I do have my reasons though. While there is always a chance that the end of the world could turn out to be like Edgar Allen Poe’s classic short tale “The Masque of the Red Death,” where in the end everybody dies, I like to entertain the thought that it will be different. I don’t have a particular theory about how it will be different; maybe I’m just an optimist. But why should the end of the world be associated with such doom and gloom? Isn’t there a possibility that this world will end so a new one can begin? Of course, I’m probably wrong and we’re all going to die. Even so, I would very much like to see what it’s like when this world kicks the bucket. If the world opens its earthly jaws and swallows me up, at least the last thing I’ll ever get to do is appreciate the rarest form of beauty: an entire planet in its death throes.

From the looks of F# A# ∞, Godspeed You! Black Emperor favor the belief that the end of the world will be a thing of beauty as well. Considered by many to be one of the greatest post rock bands ever, these Canadians have consistently (up until Yanqui U.X.O. anyway) made some of the most stunning music I’ve ever heard. Many have told me that they had to give the band considerable time to grow on them before they enjoyed the music, but it was not so with me. I loved them the first time I heard the opening minutes of “The Dead Flag Blues” come out of my speakers. They’re one of my favorite bands, and will remain as such my whole life. To me, they’re the band that feels like home. In particular, this album is their best work, and my personal favorite album of all time. I do not trust myself to accurately convey the full spectrum of feelings one experiences while listening to these songs, but I will sure as hell try my best.

In an aesthetic sense, the songs are more like movements, each with their own theme. “The Dead Flag Blues” is the introduction to the apocalypse, and does its job quite admirably. It sets the mood as dark and dreary as a forlorn voice surveys the scene. “The car’s on fire, and there’s no driver at the wheel…” Truly depressing imagery, but don’t worry, you won’t feel depressed by the time the album ends. As the first track progresses, you may be quite surprised at what you hear if you’ve never delved that deep into the more experimental genres of music. Ambience, the sounds of a train, instruments you may consider unconventional for rock music: all of these are a part of the song. Surprisingly the song ends cheerfully with a xylophone; quite different from the way it began. With its droning strings and driving guitar riffs, as well as the “it’s the day after the apocalypse and there’s nothing left but a scorched earth” feel, “The Dead Flag Blues” is the perfect way to start the album off.

As the album goes on, Godspeed You! Black Emperor continue to show off their musical prowess. “East Hastings” begins with a preacher shouting his message, his only companion a set of bagpipes that sound as lonely as he does. Abysmal guitar riffs and pulsing drums drive this track, and it’s not without its fair share of ambience. “Providence” is the longest song, and perhaps the most satisfying. At first I thought the track was a bit frustrating to listen to, due to the fact that it has the most ambient sections on the album and even a period of four minutes of silence. However, it’s all worth it in the end, as we reach the climax of the album. Here is where my theory that GY!BE believe the end of the world is a thing of joy and beauty comes from. While it’s certainly a thing of interpretation, the last few minutes of the album is an energetic romp, perhaps signifying the final spurts of life from the world, and finally coming to its final rest. On the other hand, it could be a new civilization beginning, or the first signs of life from the survivors. Either way, the ending fits the album perfectly and does a fantastic job of doing what music is supposed to do: let the listeners determine for themselves what the music is saying.

This is the perfect album. It exemplifies what music should be: emotional, inspirational, and it makes you think and wonder. Growing time aside, I can almost guarantee that you will eventually like this album. I started this review with disjointed musings about the end of the world. When I listen to this album, I come to this conclusion and I have to say that I am content with it…

If I never get to see the end of the world, at least I got to hear it.


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Comments:Add a Comment 
trustxdialect
February 24th 2007


1502 Comments


A splendid first review, but more of the same. We've heard the "end of the world is so beautiful" argument from the other reviews on this album. But this is still fantastic. Try doing something else not many people know/have reviewed.

Intransit
February 24th 2007


2797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I have to agree. The opening paragraph reminds me alot of chan's review. If you are going to review something with the same rating that everyone else has, it would be wise to at least bring a fresh viewpoint on the album.

Oh and I have to say that Lift Your Skinny Fists is better than this by a couple of miles at least, although the Dead Flag Blues is like my 3rd favorite post-rock song ever. This Message Edited On 02.24.07

trustxdialect
February 24th 2007


1502 Comments


I haven't heard Skinny Fists so I haven't had anything by Godspeed to compare it to. I'm gonna get it today and see if this rating changes.

Intransit
February 24th 2007


2797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Skinny Fists is pretty much perfect imo. Storm and Sleep especially. The sound is so sweeping.

The Door Mouse
February 24th 2007


2092 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fantastic 1st. Have you been to other review sites? Great job. You deserve a thumb.
:thumb:

Sepstrup
February 24th 2007


1564 Comments


Cool closing line. I need to listen more to this.

Two-Headed Boy
February 24th 2007


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

At the moment my least favorite GY!BE album. It's still nothing short of a classic though.

Okay review, but you really didn't say anything new. It was well written though.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
February 24th 2007


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review. Blah blah not much different, but you said it all more eloquently than anyone else has on this album.

Dulcinea
February 24th 2007


181 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I apologize for reviewing something I apparently shouldn't have? Oh well.

Thank you Iluvatar.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
February 24th 2007


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It is preferable to either review something that hasn't been reviewed, or something that you have a mildly different take on than other people who have reviewed it.

Dulcinea
February 24th 2007


181 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Well, nothing against you but I don't really care. This is my favorite album and I wanted to review it. And really the only similar thing about my intro to that other one is that I talked about the end of the world. Wow big deal. That's what this album is about.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
February 24th 2007


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Um, I did say it was preferable? The point of the site is to review what you want to review. Everyone reviews albums that other people have reviewed, just be prepared to get the "this is nothing new comment" and all of that.
And your review points out essentially the same things as the other reviews have, but theres nothing wrong with that. Preference and wanting to flesh out the bands/albums with reviews is what makes people say review other things dude.

CheckersOnMyShoesYo
February 27th 2007


215 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

More of the same, but still a very good review.

Lift Your Skinny Fists beats this by a little bit, but its still a fantastic album.

Thor
February 27th 2007


10202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The Dead Flag Blues is clearly the best song on the album.

Providence brings it down though. It's just too long.

Digging: Black Crown Initiate - The Wreckage of Stars

Two-Headed Boy
February 27th 2007


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I find it perfect to fall asleep too.

Thor
February 27th 2007


10202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think it's a bit too frightening to fall asleep to. This album is straight creepy.

Zebra
Moderator
February 27th 2007


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I don't see how anyone could fall asleep to this. There are just to many abrupt parts that come out of nowhere such as the strange train noise in the opening track and the loud, crashing violins towards the end of East Hastings.

Intransit
February 27th 2007


2797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I had the worst experience trying to sleep to this once, holy hell.

Never again. Give me Massive Attack, AIR, or Mogwai any day.

Dulcinea
February 27th 2007


181 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Slow Riot is much better for sleeping.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
February 27th 2007


4927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

what? not at all. how can you sleep during that interview?



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