Review Summary: This is my apocalypse.It went like this:
The buildings tumbled in on themselves
Mothers clutching babies
Picked through the rubble
And pulled out their hair
The skyline was beautiful on fire
All twisted metal stretching upwards
Everything washed in a thin orange haze
I said, "Kiss me, you're beautiful -
These are truly the last days"
You grabbed my hand
And we fell into it
Like a daydream
Or a fever
The eradication of a species intelligent enough to be cognizant of its own demise would likely lead to paranoia, disorder, and panic far more widespread than we have ever witnessed. Our minds lack the capacity to fathom our own end, and therefore we replace that understanding with overwrought emotional extremes such as terror, denial, and despondency. This fact about the human psyche has led us to believe that the end of the world will be hell on Earth. But the simple truth is that nobody really knows. The scenario above is just one interpretation…others may cite the apocalypse as a beautiful thing, a chance to witness the final chapter in the book of life. Or maybe the end of the world will happen too fast for us to exhibit any kind of sustained reaction to the events occurring; perhaps there will just be nothing
. No matter where your stance on the issue lies, Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s F#A#∞ can provide the ideal musical backdrop to the experience in your mind.
The reason F#A#∞ can cover such a vast ideological scope is because it is perfect. No need to adjust your monitor, and yes, your glasses are on correctly as well. Perfection exists in music, in the form of post-rock’s finest record and the greatest apocalypse-themed album ever recorded. F#A#∞ does not achieve faultlessness so much as it defines it; there is not one thing about the album that could have been added, removed, or altered to make it a better version of what it symbolizes. What exactly does it represent…annihilation? Freedom? Both? With Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s approach on this album, both of these ideas are embodied in full. Annihilation is present in the ever-tangible apocalyptic atmosphere, as death looms around the corner of every acoustic strum, downtrodden drum beat, and swelling string. Freedom exists double fold, both in the liberation associated with death as well as within the articulate, almost entirely instrumental expression of F#A#∞. Using words to set a premise for the album only, the majority of the record is music in its most liberated state, without any vocals or lyrics to bog it down. As a result, F#A#∞ possesses the rare ability to transcend any one way of thinking, while still holding its overriding concept together with flawless, structured cohesion.
This is also one of the most complete albums you will ever experience. It is necessary to listen to F#A#∞ in its entirety, as every moment on this album depends on what came before it as well as what comes after. There is no understanding just how magnificent the climax of ‘East Hastings’ really is without hearing the slow, eleven-minute buildup that precedes it. From the rambling preacher who implores his bystanders to seek Christ overtop of a bagpipe serenade to the dramatic orchestral buildup, the song is a perfect example of how every little detail on the album is related. The same goes for the other two songs comprising the album. ‘Dead Flag Blues’ sets the stage with apocalyptic poetry and the sound of a distant train before transitioning into a bluesy, acoustic atmosphere and ‘Providence’ features multiple valleys and climaxes over an eighteen minute duration that not once feels dull or recycled. F#A#∞ is constantly evolving within itself, ever-changing and always on the prowl towards another ominous cloud that looms on the horizon.
In its never-ending pursuit, F#A#∞ explores the apocalypse but (perceivably) never reaches a resolution. This speaks volumes about the album’s ability to remain interpretable on so many levels, from personal beliefs about the end of the world to the cyclic nature of life and death. It does everything that a post-rock record should
do, and it is likely the most essential thing ever recorded within the genre. There is little more that can be said about the debut album from one of post-rock’s most revered bands. Those of you who have already grown to love this album may find that this review simply reciprocated your current opinions; but for those of you who have heard great things about F#A#∞ and still haven’t explored it yourself, it is time to be overcome by this massive record’s finality and slip into it, like a daydream or a fever.