A Silver Mount Zion - Born Into Trouble As The Sparks Fly Upward
Released in 2001 off of Constellation Records, Born Into Trouble As the Sparks Fly Upward is the second album from this Godspeed You! Black Emperor side-project. Growing from three members into six since their last album, He Has Left Us Alone, But Shafts of Light Sometimes Grace the Corners of Our Rooms
, ASMZ (in many people's eyes) have fallen somewhat short since their last album. This album takes on the shape moreso of a GY!BE album with its fortissimos and crescendos or bombastic guitar and stringed instruments. Violin, cello, piano and samples are some of the main resources they draw from.
You will also notice that on Born Into Trouble As the Sparks Fly Upward, Effrim's voice makes several appearances on tracks such as Take These Hands And Throw Them In The River and The Triumph Of Our Tired Eyes.
Sisters! Brothers! Small Boats of Fire Are Falling from the Sky! 9:08
The first track begins with an ever-loudening, repeating ambient noise that seems to fly right past your ears and toward the back of your head. Sad violins join the mix as the other noises recede slowly but never quite go away. Now there's a piano that comes in and plays its own melody as the violins shift to another meloncholy harmony to compliment it. The volume grows slowly as the separate sounds combine and make you feel like you should be in some sad, sad movie... and dancing. Yeah, dancing. This continues, loudens, and then finally draws to a close.
This Gentle Hearts Like Shot Birds Fallen 5:47
At the start of the next tracl, the band employs a sound clip of a baby making 'noises'. I'm sorry, I like samples and all, but this one just annoys me. However, as soon as the baby isn't heard anymore, a sad guitar is heard in the distance, and is soon joined by horns and strings as the sound grows and grows at a very slow pace. This theme continues until the song ends.
Built Then Burnt (Hurrah! hurrah!) 5:40
A monologue by (supposedly) the violinist, Sophie, starts this track off, but soon she is accompanied by a distant harmonizing theme. The monologue is generally not up to par that I would expect from the same people that wrote 'The Dead Flag Blues.' There are some lines that stick out though. Lines such as, "Good words, strong words, words that could've moved mountains, words that were never said."
Once the monologue is finished, the horns and strings form a similar melody as the previous track. Undeniably similar. After a few minutes, the theme slides away into a barrage of screeching violins that continues into the next track.
Take These Hands and Throw Them in the River 6:58
Almost like a slap in the face, this sense of urgency will wake the listener up from the previous track with the shake of loud, dissonant violin and cello. Soon enough, Efrim begins singing in his awkward, but powerful voice. After a couple verses, the instuments build and build their sound until there's almost an anti-climax where the sound recedes back ever-so slightly. Efrim's voice can get a trifle annoying near the end of this part as it keeps repeating the same line and then dies out into near-silence.
Could've Moved Mountains 10:59
The track begins slowly with spacy guitar and a cello. Efrim's voice is heard again, but it seems as though he's singing two different songs. The music flows along as the guitar takes a center role in the piece. Efrim's voice comes in again along with a woman's voice. They're singing almost inaudibly but this time around (as opposed to earlier in the song) it souns a little better. The music gets picked up a slight bit as a slow melody rises up and falls back down. Subtle Voices are accompanying the ever-thickening sound that the instruments put forth as the paces picks up a tiny bit. The sound builds and builds as various sound clips play in the background. The pace recedes again until there is nothing but a sound clip of a children which leads into the next track.
Tho You Are Gone I Still Often Walk W/You 4:46
Piano starts off as the main focal point of this track. Its quick pace is accompanied by strings until slows down once again. The piano changes melodies and continues in an eerie manner due as the pace quickens and slows down once again. The piano and cello introduce a variation of the last theme until it slows down, stops and becomes quiet.
C'mon Comeon (Loose an Endless Longing) 8:06
Suddenly, a metallic, distorted guitar rings out in time with percussion. This track is beginning to feel very "Godspeed-eee." The instuments all combine to make an eerie, daunting atmosphere of sound. Penetrating through everything sounds like the howl of a french horn. The pace increases slightly as the metallic bumps increase in frequency and bombard the listener. But soon thereafter, the sound fades away and leves behind a howling noise that takes the form of horns in a very "Do Make Say Think-like" way. Once the horns emerge completely, a wave of static begins to rise along with a the heavy crash of cymbals and beat of drums. It all eventually combines into a sonic Tower of Babble that collapses in on itself.
Triumph of Our Tired Eyes 6:54
Very dainty ambient noises introduce the next track along with the help of Efrims voice. A cello enters the mix along with a clean-picked violin. "We will find our way" are the hopeful words that are muttered by Efrim in accompaniment with violin. Efrim's voice becomes doubled once again as he cries out "musicans are cowards!" The violins continue along and then quiet down when Efrim's begins singing again. The message is ery political which is to be expected. The plucked violin returns as Efrim repeats "So come on friends, to the barricades again." The music eventually dies out and is replaced by girls singing a little song about the barricade until there is silence once again.
A Silver Mount Zion
hasn't taken a very big step at all since their last album, but actually might have taken a small step back toward sounding a bit too much like Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The crescendos are still there, and the sound isn't as crisp as one would expect it to be.
Still, although the production lacks somewhat, and this formula has been overdone, ASMZ is still their own band that is able to put more heartbreaking music in an album than I can shake a stick at.
Overall Rating: 8.8/10