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Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven CD (album) cover

LIFT YOUR SKINNY FISTS LIKE ANTENNAS TO HEAVEN

Godspeed You! Black Emperor

 

Post Rock/Math rock

4.13 | 483 ratings

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Walkscore
5 stars This, for me, is GYBE's masterpiece, and one of my favourite albums. The band is quite unique in incorporating a very critical punk ethos into otherwise very beautiful, slow building instrumental music. The band, and this album, is as other reviewers here note, non-conformist and, I would add, totally uncompromising (indeed, one of the reasons I love this band so much is that they very clearly never compromise their music, you either like or not. And they keep pushing the boundaries of music. They are, for me, a band of the highest musical integrity). And unlike most instrumental music, this album conveys a powerful political and emotional message. As noted by others, this is music somehow predicting, and written for, a post-apocalyptic world. And it unusual in being instrumental music that makes you think. I think it sets a certain archetypical standard against which any other post-rock (and other so-called post-apocalyptic music) might be compared.

I am writing this review more than ten years after picking up this album and listening to it a gazillion times, and unlike other albums which eventually lose their shine after multiple listens, this one keeps growing on me, drawing me in. It all fits together very well, and even when one has to listen through white noise or other harsh sounds, those work well in pulling you through the transitions between pieces. While there is no normal singing, there are occasional other recorded vocal noises (including interviews with people recorded on busy city streets, recordings of school children, etc), and other low-fi sound bites (there is one recording of a band member singing 'baby-o' but that is one of these low-fi snippets). These help glue the music together and bolster its critical ethos. But it is really the music that stands out. The title track ("Lift yer Skinny Fists like Antennas to Heaven") is one of the band's most beautiful and majestic pieces of music, and one that also works very well live. Gathering Storm is actually their version of Amazing Grace, but with a twist, lending some reflexive emotional weight to the whole album. World Police and Friendly Fire is perhaps a definitive GYBE composition, and also works very well live.

On the whole, the album stands the test of time. It is highly original, powerful, and musically maintains its emotional weight even after multiple years of listening. I would highly recommend giving this album multiple listens before coming to any conclusions. The first times I listened to it, I had a hard time cognitively mapping it, but over time its structure and heft became evident. This is, in my opinion, in a select list of the top 50 albums every made. This one is worth it.

Walkscore | 5/5 |

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