Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Yanqui U.X.O.


4.0
excellent

Review

by Adam Turner-Heffer USER (38 Reviews)
June 2nd, 2007 | 16 replies | 4,513 views


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Montreal post-rockers release their most challenging record yet for their swan song, and yet it was the only complete album they ever would produce.

6 of 6 thought this review was well written

This album was released into a fairly terrifying climate. Lets not kid our selves, the beginning of this millennium was, for all its Michael Moore documentaries, green day bandwagon jumping and other general "anti-George bush" sentiments, the world was not a happy place. Its clear Godspeed knew this full well, you only have to look at the album cover of falling bombs to see that. As noted in the sleeve notes, this was a particularly bad year for Israeli conflicts, let along America's scaremongering and apparent death threats over in Iraq; in reality, Godspeed could have gone into recording this album with a supreme level of smugness - a big feeling of 'I told you so'.

In 1998, Godspeed You! Black Emperor! pretty much predicted the end of the world. When everyone else was being affluent and positive with music (emo, hardcore, post-hardcore and post-punk all took giant leaps around this time) Godspeed! released what is still argued as one of the the most dark, depressing albums of all time, which essentially carried the sentiment that, the whole human race will soon implode on itself for its selfishness. Of course, this isn't to say Godspeed started to feel a bit more comfortable in their position, in the year 2000, just before the *** hit the fan, they released an album that moved away from dark, ambient atmospherics and moved more into big, expansive orchestral wonders with 'Lift Yr. Skinny Fists...'. But in post-9/11 North America, Godspeed had to be looking at their debut effort all over again and thinking "Christ, we were right".

As a result then, 'Yanqui U.X.O' popped up. It seems apparent that they took a long, hard look at themselves, their past records, and the world that surrounded them and said "right, we're going to do something about this". It would be an understatement to say that this record is a step down from the completely over the top yet very moving 'Lift Yr. Skinny Fists' but its still progressive in its own way. Its progressive for Godspeed because, it is, strangely enough, their most conventional record. That is something the band never did previously, before it was all about huge gaps, samples of noises and voice bites and maybe a song hidden in a track if we're lucky. Here, for the first time on a Godspeed record, we have music all the way through. From the very first "western bar" discordant piano hitting its off-kilter rhythm in '09-15-00' to the incredible crescendo of just pure volume in 'mother***er=redeemer (part 2)' it is a constant sound of definable tune, melody and rhythm.

There is absolutely no denying it, this is the most complete record Godspeed ever released, and yet, for some bizarre reason, its the most difficult to get into. It just seems that the gaps and the near-silences and the atmosphere is what makes Godspeed You! Black Emperor who they are. No other band of this genre seem to have even dared to play around with song lengths and gaps in a way thats just so, giving them the exact atmosphere they acquire. And thats exactly what this music is about isn't it? Post-Rock is all about atmosphere. The lack of lyrics and vocals (voice of god narrator, if you will) are there for the purpose of creating an atmosphere, an image in your head of something, which is variable from listener to listener; that is exactly why this music is considered so magical.

Don't get me wrong though, this album is just as moving, intense, stunning and with all the imagery you could hope for, its just a lot more subtle in its approach. '09-15-00' moves along at a cracking pace, one that possess all the dramatics and wonderfully layered instruments you could hope for, building and building in a way Godspeed have perfected time and time again. Whereas 'Rockets Fall on Rocket Falls' shifts dramatically from a pacy, traveling rhythm led by a single guitar line at the foreground, into a very dark, calm before the storm, 'Space Odyssey' - esque sound which again, slowly recharges gathering steam before turning into a complete juggernaut of violent and cathartic noise which ends as really rather thrilling.

The absolute highlight of this album has to go to it's climax though. The final half an hour that makes up 'Mother***er=Redeemer' parts 1 and 2 that is the utter triumph on this record. It is as emotional, dramatic and intense as you could please, and is perhaps a very fitting swan song to post-rock's Canadian pioneers. It all begins with a simple bleeping sound that is almost reminent of a radar searching for living objects, and then, a fully fledged, almost tribal drum beat follows a syncopated guitar line as more and more instruments kick off this finale. It builds and builds is classic Godspeed style until its at full pelt and once again, posses almost all the violence of a punk band. Then suddenly drops off into a spacey delay pedal ridden guitar line and general ambiance. And it essentially trudges along like this for the rest of part 1, with a slight glimmer of hope towards the end.

For Part 2 though, they go all out. "This is it boys & girls, last chance to dance". A sinister violin rings out, and that storm that has been threatening throughout this record finally takes over. There's a ***ing evil black cloud surrounding and there is no escaping it. This is Godspeed's final push, and my god do they go for it. After this dark and sinister music that is quite similar to their previous works, suddenly, a silver lining in the cloud shows itself (about 7 minutes in) there is a key change, and suddenly, suddenly. You emerge in one of the most euphoric listening experiences you'll probably ever experience. Godspeed have a habit of ending their records with a feeling that there is still hope for us yet, and this is no different. Even the incredibly bleak debut of 'f# a# oo' s finale had a slightly more upbeat feel to it in its dreamy rock end, but here, an album that is generally a reflection into the mess we have got ourselves into as humans rather than a prediction (which was that aforementioned debut) Godspeed show us that, despite all the *** ups, all the pain we cause each other, life is still an incredible thing, one that can never be fully grasped, and thats almost the attraction to it and that we can better ourselves as humans.

And so, although this is not their best by a long shot, it is still and incredible piece of music. There is hardly any other records that keep me as gripped and as on the edge of my seat as this, (not even some punk records can match the feeling this gives me) and hardly any other that make me feel quite so amazing once finished. It is an album that reflected not only on the world and its mistakes, but also as themselves as a band (as there are definite references from all their previous work to be picked up on here) and said to themselves "you know what, we did pretty ***ing OK".



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user ratings (1146)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Justanothernimrod
June 2nd 2007



478 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

haha this is really quite long, sorry guys!

this album carried great sentiment for me, I found it difficult to get into until I listened to it on a fairly length train journey, and I felt so emotional by the end that I was a bit shaken up. The purpose of the journey was to meet a girl I have since fallen in love with, whom I met literally minutes after the final crescendo of this album.

My first review in ages, let me know if I've still got it or not!

711
June 2nd 2007



1342 Comments


Its not that long, I found it pretty easy to read actually. Great review.
This is the only Godspeed album I dont own, so I plan to pick it up sometime.

jrowa001
June 2nd 2007



8750 Comments


excellent review! godspeed are one of the best at getting your emotions all riled up

Intransit
June 2nd 2007



2797 Comments


This is a really great review. Excellent work. However, I wouldn't call this the band's swan song yet. I still hold out hope that they will come back and blow LYSF out of the water.

I've yet to hear this, but regardless of all of the negativity towards it, I'm going to pick it up now upon reading this.

ValiumMan
June 2nd 2007



493 Comments


This album is excellent, but a lot more subdued than other Godspeed albums. There ain't this "emotional outburst", which is why I think people don't like it. But it's frightening stuff if you're in for it.
Great review too. Instead of endlessly analyzing the structure and instrumentation, you talked about the emotions, which is the best way to approach this music, IMHO.
BTW: Does the date in the title of the first (two) track(s) have any special significance? I tried researching, but couldn't find out anything.


Justanothernimrod
June 2nd 2007



478 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it says in the sleeve notes;

"09-15-00" is ariel sharon surrounded by 1,000 israeli soldiers marching on al-haram ash-sharif & provoking another intifada."

one of the other reviews of this album mentions that this actually happened on the 28th of september and that 'Al-Haram Ash-Sharif" refers to what most Israelis call "the Temple Mount"

thanks for all the positive comments! I'm glad a couple of people are saying they'll give this a go now because I think its well worth it.

GleamInRanks
June 2nd 2007



298 Comments


Great review. I'll be sure to listen to this because F# A# and Lift Your Skinny Fists... are some of my favorite albums.

Two-Headed Boy
June 2nd 2007



4527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Edited because I am an idiot.

Great album.This Message Edited On 07.31.07

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
June 2nd 2007



4926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm glad you are reviewing again. Great review.

Slaapkamers
June 2nd 2007



596 Comments


sucks.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2007



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeh kinda

711
June 2nd 2007



1342 Comments


Ill probably get this anyway since Im easily impressed

Justanothernimrod
June 3rd 2007



478 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks IsItLuck? I was unaware anyone even really took any notice of my reviews

Justanothernimrod
September 14th 2007



478 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I actually much prefer this to 'Skinny Fists' now a days.

Spectrum
September 14th 2007



347 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review, not gonna lie. I adore this album, though it seems that general opinion among fans on this one is split. Pretty much every GY!BE fan loves F# A# oo and Lift Your Skinny Fists..., but this is the 'love it or hate it' record. I happen to love it, and I think this review is high quality. Rep'd.

Justanothernimrod
September 14th 2007



478 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks man =]



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