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Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Post Rock/Math rock

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven album cover
4.13 | 507 ratings | 75 reviews | 51% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2000

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1
1. Storm 22:32):
- i) Lift Yr. Skinny Fists, Like Antennas To Heaven.
- ii) Gathering Strom
- iii) "Welcome To The Barco am/pm..." L.A.X. 5/14/00)
- iv) Cancer Towers On Holy Road Hi-Way
2. Static 22:36)
- i) Terrible Canyons Of Static
- ii) Atomic Clock
- iii) Chart #3
- iv) World Police And Friendly Fire
- v) ...+ The Buildings They Are Sleeping Now)

CD 2
3. Sleep 23:17)
- i) Murray Ostril: "...They Don't Sleep Anymore On The Beach"
- ii) Monheim
- iii) Broken Windows, Locks Of Love Pt. III/3rd Part
4. Antennas To Heaven 18:58)
- i) Moya Sings "Baby-O"
- ii) Edgyswingsetacid
- iii) Glockenspiel Duet Recorded On A Campsite In Rhinebeck, NY)
- iv) "Attention... Mon Ami... Fa-Lala-Lala-La-La... 55 St. Laurent)
- v) She Dreamt She Was A Bulldozer, She Dreamt She Was Alone In An Empty Field
- vi) Deathkamp Drone
- vii) Antennas To Heaven.)

Total Time: 87:23


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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- David Bryant / guitar
- Efrim Menuck / guitar
- Roger Tellier-Craig / guitar
- Mauro Pezzente / bass guitar
- Thierry Amar / bass guitar
- Aidan Girt / drums
- Bruce Cawdron / drums
- Sophie Trudeau / violin
- Norsola Johnson / cello

- Alfons / horn (1-i,3-iii)
- Brian / horn (1-i,3-iii)

Releases information

Artwork: John Arthur Tinholt

2xLP Constellation ‎- cst012 (2000, Canada)

2xCD Kranky ‎- krank043 (2000, US)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven ratings distribution

(507 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(51%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(28%)
Good, but non-essential (13%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
5 stars Double CD/Vinyl release from 9 member ensemble performing 4 very long and spacey tracks. What else could you ask for? "Lift your skinny fists." easily draws the listener into that relaxed mental spacial void where all one can consider is relaxation. All 4 songs are super long and highly exploratory in nature. GODSPEED's music swoops across some pretty vast moods and tempo changes. Title and opening track "Lift Your Skinny fists" opens with a simply breathtaking slow cello/violin and guitar driven symphony which builds and builds culminating into one huge reservoir sounding explosion reminding me of a mix of KING CRIMSON and SPIRITUALIZED. Basically the opening track sets the stage for the rest of the album with all other songs fitting in similar format. GODSPEED are a 9 piece instrumental ensemble who play unique symphonic space chamber music. Their delivery is warm and passive with sincere emotion and high musicianship. I personally can't get enough of their full rich sound when all players get into the fray... a sonic bonanza for your brain.

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars As I had discovered GYBE! a few months before this one came out , I was really expecting this one to shoot right through the roof of my tastes as the first releases were taking frequent turns on my deck. Alas , the musical evolution seems to stop , as the "artistic formula " is now well established and is repeating itself. Don't get me wrong , this is still an excellent album full of good music , and this had been their first release it might get the fifth star. This has a feeling of "business as usual " a little bit like another run-of-the-mill Status Quo album ( not that GYBE! sounds anything remotedly close to SQ). Also much recommended.
Review by Jim Garten
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Retired Admin & Razor Guru
4 stars Godspeed are one of those refreshingly different bands, impossible to categorise and once heard, impossible to ignore - they are a very worthy addition to this archive.

'Raise Your Skinny Fists.....' could be said to define true 'progressive' rock - highly textured sonic soundscapes, which although convoluted, occasionally repetitive, and with a tendency to meander occasionally, is never boring.

Think Brian Eno with an edge.

Think Robert Fripp with classical tendencies.

Think of a combination of the above spiced with The Enid's compositional flair.

Then ignore all of the above and just listen - an hour and a half will just slip by un-noticed, you will not be left humming any melodies, as there are actually very few, you will not have inspirational lyrics to quote to your friends, as the album is completely instrumental, you will not actually know why you like the album, but I almost guarantee you will.

I don't even know why I'm giving this album 4 stars, other than the fact that "Excellent addition to any prog rock collection" perfectly summarises this album.

Hope this helps...........

Review by penguindf12
5 stars The post-rock group of the new century. The herald of the apocalypse. The odd instrumental nine-piece from Canada who doesn't write their songs in a list but MAPS them in the liner notes. In less words, AMAZING.

I bought this album as a result of sheer curiosity. The name of the album is what first caught my eye. "What the %#@?!" was most people's response when I told them about it. Their nonconformity amazes me. Their album defines the sad fall of western civilization to hypocrisy. The liner notes are strange, and funnily enough have a picture of a punk band which isn't them on there! Talk about rejection of the "stage persona"! The music itself is mapped on the liner notes in a cryptic way. It indicates where each movement begins and ends, but I think it is lying to me. It says that the "Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven" movement ends at 5:30 on track one when it really ends at 6:58 or so.

Anyways, the "Storm" is great. The hopeful encouragement of the title movement gives way to the strange constantly climaxing "Gathering Storm," which fades out into the dark, wet streets of a highway mini-mart and its sounds. Then it drifts down the apocalypse avenue in "Cancer Towers on Holy Road Hi-Way" and its radio tower sadness.

"Static" is another winner. "Terrible Canyons of Static" is pretty nice, and the atomic clock/chart #3 part is strange because of the religious ramblings in the background and the static feel. Then "World Police and Friendly Fire" builds into a rallying crescendo, which is effectively torn down by the post-apocalyptic sounds of "The Buildings they are Sleeping Now." This one has the sound of metal creaking and twisting as skeletons of skyscrapers burn down slowly after a nuclear war. It reminds me of the novel, "The Last Book in the Universe."

"Sleep" begins with the nostalgic ramblings of an old man remembering his days of sleeping on coney island. The constantly climaxing "monheim" rushes afterward, leaving behind a strange humming noise which once sounded like a female vocal section to lead into the calmer and dreamy "Broken Windows, Locks of Love."

Finally we come to "Antennas to Heaven." It starts with a weird bluesy "Baby-O" tune which is swept away by the rushing "Edgyswingsetacid" which in turn gives way to the glockenspiel thing after a mere minute. The most annoying part of this Cd is the "mon- ami fa la la la..." thing after this part. It seems entirely pointless, and it is the only lowpoint of the album. Thankfully the "bulldozer" part takes over for the major part of the song and "Deathkamp Drone" follows it inconspicuously. Then the hopeful reprise "Antennas to Heaven" closes it.

For some reason, the fourth track of the album seems less intense and more ambient. This is not bad, however, and is a welcome difference. The first track is sadder, the second very mixed, and the third more intense. This album is highly recommended for the curious and the nonconformist.

Review by frenchie
4 stars When i first looked at the bands titles and artwork i was expecting this to be completely insane music. and i mean ummagumma + piper + neu! + frank zappa! I was pleasantly surprised after when i pressed play i was intruiged to hear very beautiful, chilled and emotional. This album uses a similar layout to "Tales From Topographic Oceans" by YES because it is a double album with 2 tracks on each, lasting around 20 mins, and it is also incredibly demanding to listen to. This album is even more demanding than TFTO so it is not for everyone.

My personal favourite tracks on this double album were "Storm" and "Antennas to Heaven". Each track shows a very progressive, demanding and extremely experimental array of different instruments played by our crazy nontet. Some of the downfalls are that sometimes it can feel like these pieces lack direction as they have such a slow build up by they eventually build up. I'm not sure if this album aims to captivate people, it's morely something to chillout to. The music is very ambient with different layers of sound experimented throughout. The arrangement on this album is flawless and the ambience kind of reminded me of the Silent Hill sountracks (excellent to track down, even if you dont like the games).

There is a wonderful atmosphere on this album as it is very chilled yet does not lack depth and energy. It feels like a mini orchestra and i could imagine "Storm" being performed by an huge orchestra as it is filled with so much beauty and passion. "Static" manages to piece together some powerful messages with the voiceover on the album. I like albums that send out a message and Godspeed have mastered that perfectly with their artwork and their titles and controversial image. Probably the biggest contradiction of rebellion and peacefulness i have ever experienced. Bands like Manic Street Preachers, Rage Against the Machine and Radiohead sound like they could thouroughly enjoy this band.

This album offers something new, daring, experimental and heavenly to listen to. Its likely that you will have difficulty listening to this album but i think the work contains a mood that anyone can want to share. I definetly recommend you try this band as it is something completely extraordinary, even if you dont like them i think you will definetly get some fullfilment out of this album.

Review by Fitzcarraldo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I had not previously heard this band's music, and bought "Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven!" on spec. I did not even know what is Post Rock but, having read rave reviews of the band, was curious to find out what all the fuss was about. Having now listened for a few months to this 2-CD instrumental release I have to say that I am impressed, albeit perhaps not as much as some other reviewers. That said, I do enjoy this music and find it a worthwhile addition to my collection. It is also refreshing to hear something new: something progressive.

My first impression on listening to these two CDs was of TANGERINE DREAM but using conventional instruments. Then I read fellow reviewer diddy's review of "Yanqui U.X.O." and saw that he had exactly the same impression. Both CDs of "Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven!" are very atmospheric and I can easily listen to them back to back. The tracks consist of a mixture of music, everyday sounds and talking. The whole thing has an avant-garde feel to it, including the sleeve made of recycled card with bizarre artwork, the insert made of recycled paper, and the minimalist printing on the CDs themselves.

'Storm' ebbs and flows. It reminds me of a cold, grey day in the mountains or on the coast. I like the way the piece builds using violin, drums, guitar and trumpet to become a wall of sound, then calms, and then builds again. The music somehow forces you to listen and it does not feel like a 22-minute track. The distorted Tannoy and street sounds over plodding piano near the end of the track add to the bizarreness and atmosphere. 'Static', with foghorns and steam train at the beginning, again has a heavy atmosphere. I can almost feel clammy fog around me. The whining and whistling radio static, along with other sounds such as the talking clock and evangelical sermon with violin over the top sound so bleak. Then the music builds hypnotically using a motif and becomes heavier. But the end of the piece calms again, with percussion and non-melodic electric guitar wafting gently and relaxingly from the speakers. 'Sleep' starts off with the voice of an old man reminiscing about Coney Island in bygone days. Then haunting guitar, violin and drum come in and the piece evokes feelings of nostalgia and sadness. The music even sounds a little like laid-back, very early PINK FLOYD in one or two instances. Again the music builds slowly to create a wall of sound. Part of this piece actually has what approximates to a melody! This builds and the guitar becomes totally distorted. I know this distortion is done for effect but it sets my teeth on edge, although for some reason it does work - but I could not stand it if it went on longer. Fortunately the music ebbs briefly before building again, but then the distortion reappears and, to me, is just irritating. 'Antennas To Heaven' starts as a hillbilly ditty before introducing electric string slides and the tinkling of a glockenspiel, with children's voices and other sounds as a backdrop. Heavier music suddenly jumps in and then out again, before the piece calms and the instruments create an atmosphere evocative of a damp forest or damp city streets at night. This last part probably sounds the most like TANGERINE DREAM and is totally relaxing.

Listening to these two CDs is a mesmerising experience. I come away feeling quite refreshed. There are no killer riffs, nothing to make you tap your foot, nothing to make you hum, yet the CDs are compelling. I'm not sure whether this music would be to everyone's taste, but I think most lovers of rock music would find it interesting and pleasing. I'm certainly glad to have this release in my collection but have to say that I feel absolutely no desire to buy any more of the band's albums. I don't mean that in a derogatory way, just that these two CDs have satisfied my curiosity and my 'need' for this style of music. I will continue to listen to these CDs with pleasure, but don't intend to buy any more Post Rock albums. But I can recommend without reservation this release if you have yet to experience the sound of Post Rock. I would award "Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven!" three and a half stars if that were possible, but will go with 3 stars (Good, but non-essential). Fascinating stuff!

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Wow... what an incredible piece of music. I'm not much for post/experimental rock, but I must say that this is a great album. It reminds of Tales from Topographic Oceans in that it has only 4 songs. After that, this album is an entity in its own. The Canadian group really does a terrific job going through many different moods in each of the quasi-instrumental suites. Each song has a great balance of soft sections that erupt into a cresendo of mixed chaos. The musicians on the album play with such precision and great timing, that it often feels like an improvised jam ocurring in your headphones.

The album shifts between light and dark areas. The light areas are often more mellow, and have a laid back sense. It often feels like you're in a dream when listening to these sections. But then when the band erupts into a bombastic section, the atmosphere changes drastically from light to dark, giving a sense of shock and awe to the listener. All of the tracks exhibit this quality. On some it is done flawlessly and never feels like it is dragged on, and on some it feels more like album filler. The quasi-vocal parts of the album are all also very well done. The beginning of the 4th track, there is an acoustic interlude with muddled, sludgy vocals that quickly evolves into an all-out progressive jam. There is a part in the 1st track where you can here a conversation between a group of children, and all of the laughing and singing in the background, and it gives the music an eerie feeling.

I recommend this album to anyone who has any taste in good music. The atmosphere varies marginally, and it often is a moody and dreary atmosphere. The group really did a great job on this effort. I give it a 4/5 for some minor dry spots during the quiet passages.

Review by FloydWright
3 stars Maybe I went into this with my expectations too high, but I really don't think Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven is all it's cracked up to be by some. This certainly isn't an awful album, and has received no rating lower than a three. Even though that's what I'm giving it, I think it would be hard for anybody to justify a 2 or 1 for this, because where it does work out, it really is stunning. By far, the most beautiful song was "Storm", which has excellent orchestral work and even one section that seems to rip off "Amazing Grace" in a way that fits with the song. Aside from one section where they hold on to the same droning, dissonant notes for far too long, this one is the best on the album. "Static" is more morose, just as its title suggests, and at one point there is what sounds like a man's description of a near-death experience, and it's hard to tell whether GYBE intends this to be frightening or inspiring. I think that's up to the listener. The song continues into a section reminiscent of PINK FLOYD's "Careful With That Axe, Eugene", or MOGWAI's "Like Herod", but unfortunately there is a bit too much meandering towards the end.

On the second disc you get two more pieces, the first of which I enjoyed quite a bit. "Sleep" begins with an old man's nostalgic remembrances of Coney Island's past glory, and those of you who have ever heard the audio CDs that accompany the book The Century by Peter Jennings will feel right at home with this. While the introduction begins quite slowly, it builds for 8 minutes to a crescendo that makes it well worth listening. The guitar or synth seems rather "B-movie" in its wailing, and as long as the percussion and other instruments are still going, especially during the uptempo section, this is fine. But then GYBE does its usual trick of shooting itself in the foot and allowing the wailing to go on unaccompanied for too long. What comes after this is all right, but not as memorable. The final track, "Antennas to Heaven" simply fails to impress, and is the most aimlessly ambient of the bunch, ending the album on an unfortunate note.

I typically do appreciate "epic" tracks, but I really think GYBE could've used more discipline in crafting these epics. While it's more along the lines of slow and melancholy than fast and flashy, I'm reminded of the problem I have with DREAM THEATER's album Scenes from a Memory: I think there are some meandering, self-indulgent, and only barely listenable sections in here that end up trying my patience and ruining a previously good opinion of a song. And speaking of self-indulgent...the inside cover art does nothing to improve this impression. Somehow, they manage to politicize an album of instrumentals! Completely unnecessary, to my view. Furthermore, I think it would have been a very good editing exercise for GYBE to work to fit this album onto one single 78-minute CD; that might have forced them to edit out some of the passages that were there for no reason. I also see no relationship between the segments of some of these four songs, no evidence that there was any real compositional planning like there was for PINK FLOYD's "Echoes" or "Shine on You Crazy Diamond". Maybe that's a part of this genre, but I don't have the same problem with post-rock greats MOGWAI and SIGUR ROS.

That gets to the root of the other problem I have with GYBE. Maybe I wouldn't feel this way if I had started with them instead of SIGUR ROS and MOGWAI, but I can't help feeling like certain sections are very close to the feel of those other bands. It's quite similar to the feeling I had when listening to PORCUPINE TREE's album In Absentia: feeling like I've heard it all before, except in a more defined, better- composed format. Yes, SIGUR ROS is the newcomer in comparison to GYBE, as far as their ability to compose a good album, but their sound is much more defined and frankly I think they have become the better songwriters of the post-rock genre. MOGWAI, which started at the same time as GYBE, took some time to grow into its compositional style and occasionally still manages to make something drag a la GYBE--but at least their compositions don't tend to run anywhere near as long, so one does get a break every so often! The best sections of Lift Your Skinny Fists, though, often seem very derivative of another band: PINK FLOYD, around the time of Ummagumma and Meddle.

If you are into highly experimental epics that cross into the self-indulgent, and ambient music that occasionally flares into a raging crescendo, then you may enjoy this album. Still, I'm not sure that it's worth all the hype. I'd rather listen to SIGUR ROS or any of the other bands I was reminded of; for this I have to be in a certain mood, and often I don't even want to listen to both discs on the same day.

Review by Zac M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is, in my opinion, one of the best prog albums in years. After listeneing to this, I get the impression that prog is still alive and well and that the genre will keep going. Some may have thought this album is overly ambitious (much like Tales from Topographic Oceans), but I totally would disagrree. Here you have four songs, averaging about twenty minutes apiece in length, that all encompass different emotions and constantly change in musical textures and themes. It is truly an incredible album.

The first track alone ("Storm") is a beautiful composition that ranges from loud and powerful to minimalist, quiet, and serene. I especially am fond of the crescendo on this track. Strange samples are used at the end of this piece and on others. It adds to the allure of the album. Each technique the musicians used was put there for a reason. They all put forth this interesting blend of both acoustic and electronic effects.

I recommend this album to anyone interested in getting into the post-rock genre. A masterpiece like this cannot be overlloked by anyone. I hope to hear more of Godspeed's work in the future because after listening to this, I get the sense that prog is as alive and well today as it was in the seventies. Five stars, a true masterpiece of the sub-genre and highly recommended!

Review by Carl floyd fan
5 stars What else can I say that so many others haven't already said? This is pure genius in a musical world that lacks orginality. All the songs range from 18-23 minutes and start off with spoken word from various films and other sources. What follows is a very slow buildup with many teases before a climax 20 minutes in. You obviously need a lot of time to invest into the cd but the outcome is stunning and very rewarding. GYBE! are the masters at creating a tapestry rich in sound and rival the prog rock powers of the early 70s in emotion, talent and that classic epic feel.
Review by Prog-jester
5 stars This is the only one Post-Rock album I have,and it blows me away!!! Being a fan of Dark Music,I've found GYBE to be one of the darkest bands ever!!! Stunning "Storm" sounding like a perpetual culmination,moody "Sleep",mysterious "Static" and odd closing "Antennas to Heaven" have created the magnificient atmosphere of intense sadness.This is the music for those who sit alone in the night.This is a hour-and-a-half trip to the centre of nowhere.This is one of the most challenging bands I ever experienced.I'd like to listen to more Post-Rock!!!
Review by Ricochet
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The "Godspeed You Black Emperor" ensemble are gods of Sounds,of Vision,of Context and of Passion that goes everlasting.With just a short current discographic achievement,they have managed to make wonders and to disturb the general dynamics.With just three albums,they have the control.Believe me when I say that the personal fact of awarding every studio album of their work a solid or a close to solid five stars is totally justifiable.For even though my viewpoint progressive rock horizon expands to thirty-forty bands at five-six character of it,"Godspeed You Black Emperor!" impose as something truly unique,remarcable,fantastic and innovating.They may not be in a visible top (by not being music on everybody's language and convenience on anybody's option)-and,regarding them,it wouldn't even be of such importance to be in a visible top-but they are among the top of creation and concepts regarding high class,keen sharp focus,great perception and understanding,as well as masterfull strokes of music.In such style,in such times,in such a world,in such boundaries of reality and imagination,Godspeed You Black Emperor! Breaks the laws of routing,of compromise and of conformism,of sound spectrum limits and of composition boundaries.They define that with aplomb and they work their way as giants and as prolific.What the ensemble does is in the name and in the valuable prestige of music,of art;as for the fans,the experience of this manifest (of these manifests,cause I am still speaking at general scales) is a bliss,a shock,a soul-thrill and a constant "mind-game",a priceless gift.The relation is within divine chords and fantastic orchestration.The surrealist hard-abstrakt pulse is exhilarating."Experimental" comes as just a metaforic state of the Godspeed music.In fact,almost all definitions tend to be simple guidelines.Even this review of mine can be just a succint expression.For the real definition is the one given by the listeners' impression.Everything else,in the end,could just be allusions.

Every of the three studio albums carries a different message and a different pulse.Though great similarities and indigo markings can be considered,it is a very deceiving idea.After the apocalyptic,nebulous F#a# (and the relatively related EP that followed after),the scenario changes.Now to be honest I did actually set a reference on the ∞ and expected a continuation of that.But I was not dissapointed at all by this other side of the Godspeed dimensions."F#a# ∞" remains my favourite masterliness album,but "Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven" is of the same magnitude and of the same breathless effect as well.Most elcomed and most prolific is the opened reference,in which the mystery of the sound and the trembling of the spirit prevails.Godspeed offers a double sized treat in which the enormous valences stay intact,the arrangement flows in the same gesture,just the themes and the approach being changed in order to support a new message,a new horizon,a new universe.The sensation and the emotion also goes directed into specific meadows. "Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven" adpots an opened expression,one not in the sense of light or easy music,but in the perspective of a spirit definition.Here is the true contrast with F#a#.While that one stirs in the venom of its dark reflection and is clustered within the blackening poem (nota bene I am not describing limitations,but a concentrated essence) this one expands.It's plurimotivated and diverse in the general scale.The accent is on force and on the perpetuation of full power.With "routing" forms of compositions (the climaxes,for example;the everpresent climaxes),of perspective (higher,higher and higher) and of manifest (living up to their names),they make a presentation not of the doomsday,but of a world and thought beyond the natural graphics.As a first,the melody is more pronounced,this besides (or better said alont) with the experimentation of sound celss and distorted themes.Also the orchestration of movements and the collision of influences come tad proeminent related to the unitary form (again,these are not limits,but simple mass substances).The effuzion:the lights;the control!New is:the mixture of low silent points-which are sublime in construction and claustrophobic-and the vibrant energic climaxes-which are stretched as definition beyond your wildest imagination-as well as the fact that these two general movements are opposite polls to the limit;the motions,the dynamics,the key points of blistering rapid explosions;the "order" of the Brownian movement;the splendid scale of finding the unknown;the ascension focus viewpoint;the meadows of a delightful infinity;the spirit disquised in primordial material;the challenging phases of a sublime rapture.Unchanged stays:the essence and the ideals of Godspeed You Black Emperor!;the constant desire to make everything perfect:the splendid sensation of making out of the world a metaforical state of effect:the untouchable quality;the fruits of furt and the freeze of the moment:the unimaginable being reached,the unseen being faced:the flawless motivation;the close combination of Life,Death and Life;the neverending chimeras windows and the decreptive passion."Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven" is the call towards hopes and disillusions,towards the end of everything futile,the agony,the thrill,the point..

As much as I would like to elaborate the aspect,the sensation and the meaning of all four pieces,I will leave that to your subjectivism and your personal moment of reflection.My explosions of euphoria come on two moments: "Storm" (which is the best Godspeed You Black Emperor! Ever) and "Sleep" (for a climax of such intensity that burns your ears:a caution advice by this of course-to explore the Godspeed world with care,for the extreme climaxes ARE extreme climaxes).


Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars ‘Lift…’ is an album I’ve really gone back and forth on over the past few years of listening to it. I first heard this after discovering the band on college radio and picking up f# a# ∞, and was completely blown away by that album and by this one. Eager to learn more about the band, I continued to listen to both albums, picked up their EP as well, and started poking around for interviews or other biographical/philosophical insights into the band. Frankly this was a mistake, as their general disdain for almost everything (including at times their own music) and their overall cult-like existence became a real turn-off, and I began to tire of this album knowing the band was openly expressing contempt for many of the people who enjoyed listening to it.

This music demands to be heard though, regardless of the emotions or the circumstances, so I was inexorably drawn back to it again and again over time, finally resigning myself to the fact that I really, really liked it.

I’ve heard this music described as post-classical, and in some ways I think that is a more appropriate classification than is post-rock. Despite the guitars and drums, these are highly orchestrated compositions, intended almost solely to elicit intense and complex emotions, and perhaps even to enlighten and to influence. I feel the same types and ranges of emotions when listening to this as I did back in my college days when exposed to the likes of Debussy or Ravel, and especially some of the latter baroque works of Händel, Bach, or even Vivaldi. The long compositions, intense crescendos, and sometimes haphazard and abrupt transitions, are all highly unusual attributes of most modern music. The band has of course spawned numerous other projects, including Set Fire to Flames, A Silver Mt. Zion, Bakunin’s Bum, 1-speed Bike, Fly Pan Am, Exhaust, Shalabi Effect, Esmerine, Molasses, Hṛṣṭa, and Valley of the Giants. All of them demonstrate the same penchant for challenging traditional definitions of what is music, even what could be considered progressive music. This is probably their best-known work, but unfortunately also marks the beginning of the end, as the band announced an indefinite hiatus between this release and their final album Yanqui U.X.O.

The four works on the album may seem similar at first listen, but after years of playing it, each composition begins to take on its own character, and the many variations begin to emerge. The first track “Storm” starts off with a rather homogeneous opening for this band, mild and melancholy strings, light bells, and some almost imperceptible guitar chords. For the first time as far as I can recall the band includes some horns, sporadic on this track but prominent on the second disc. The drums come in as expected after the strings have lain down a sufficiently glum mood, around the three minute mark. The inevitable crescendo comes surprisingly quickly for a Godspeed work, at around six minutes in. Most bands would consider this a solid ending, but not these guys – there’s still another sixteen minutes to go, and that’s only for the first track. Amid an unidentifiable sustain (cello maybe?), an acoustic guitar and what may be a piano start the trek back up the musical mountain for the second time, this time adding in several dissonant chords and even feedback along the way, and with a climax that drags out for several minutes and sounds all the world like the pending collapse of several large metal structures. This is the “gathering storm”, which slows down eventually and finally simply stops.

Here the band inserts one of the collected street sounds they first introduced with their epic debut f# a# ∞. These transition to a long closing featuring unintelligible male voices amidst brooding feedback and interminably sustained strings. If you can stay focused throughout, this is an incredible journey of feelings – despair, contempt, and finally just the lost confusion of The Struggle. We are now in the eye of the storm.

Static can be defined as a stationary condition; atmospheric electricity; or interference. I think the band intended the second work to refer to all three. The opening here sounds like a train building up steam, perhaps a clever play on the band’s stylistic tendencies, or maybe this is what comes after the Storm. The band employs some odd electronic sounds here that were probably gleaned from various street noises, all seeming to represent industrial noises like trains, planes, and other forms of conveyance. Again the band inserts the recorded ramblings of a seemingly apocalypse- obsessed religious nut ranting about songs of jubilee and the promises in wait once we get around to destroying what is now, so we can get to that. The next ten minutes of “Static” are a truly bizarre blend of horror-film plodding guitar, menacing strings, and eventually an explosion of drums and violent electronic feedback, not only building in intensity but also in pace, finally ending in a frenzied explosion that leaves only a long, desolate and solo sustain in its wake. The remainder of the work consists of several minutes of aimless sounds, wailing but disorganized, which finally and mercifully end. The storm appears to have passed.

One interesting thing about Godspeed is that they introduce us to some colorful characters, Blaise Bailey Finnegan III on New Riot, Steve Reich on that widely available live track of the same name, and the nameless cowboy on f# a# ∞. On “Sleep” the oddball is Murray Ostril, a middle-aged old coot who is reminiscing about simpler times and sleeping on the beach at Coney Island. Finally the music begins to take on a tone that at least suggests we should all remove our heads from our ovens, or put away the knife, or whatever it was the preceding onslaught of despair was bringing us to contemplate. While the slow and gloomy strings are still present, the mellow guitar chords offer a glimmer of life and light, and when the buildup comes eight minutes in, it is intoxicating and hypnotic and – wonderful! The guitar vibrato and solid, confident drums are uplifting and playful, and the driving guitar-led tempo that thrusts itself out of the crescendo is abso-f**cking-lutely dazzling! These five minutes or so are among the most exhilarating I have ever experienced while listening to music. In fact, I have to go play that part right now.


Damn! Still brilliant! Frankly, the rest of this composition is nothing more than the snuggling after sex; or the gleeful ride home after watching your favorite team win a championship; or what comes next after you’ve experienced the greatest moment of your life – still good, but never quite the same.

Incredibly, by now the listener has been subjected to emotions ranging from hesitance to fear to despair to anger to lust to joy to hope, and dozens of feelings in between. If you’re listening in your car you’ve long since lost focus on the road and are trapped inside a flaming pile of rubble alongside the highway. If you’ve played this at home the dinner has burnt on the stove, the cats are ensconced in the basement or a remote crawlspace, and the annoying Jehovah’s Witnesses finally tired of ringing the doorbell and moved on to the neighbor’s house. If you’re on the train – look up, you’ve missed your stop and the end of the line is approaching. Well over an hour of your life is gone, but the time was well-spent.

But there’s more. “Antennas to Heaven” opens with Moya singing “Baby-O”, truth-in- advertising since that’s what the liner notes say should come next, but also enough to shake the listener out of their catatonic state. Fortunately this doesn’t last long, but the bells and glockenspiel that follow seem just as surreal. Perhaps I should be torching up a joint or something at this point, not sure. But before I can think that one through, up comes a couple of French kids or something blathering mindless children’s rhymes. Weird. Not to worry, another intense buildup-then-explosion comes soon enough, followed this time by a second musical convulsion about ten minutes later. This is vintage Godspeed, but without the heavy and un-obliging moodiness of the first disc in this set. I’m not exactly sure what the rest of the track is supposed to do for me, but what it does do is bring me slowly back into a world of reality, and somehow manages to reset my emotions back to the here-and-now. I’ve now seen the darkness in the mouth of the roaring lion, but I am not afraid. This is knowledge good to have, but not that can consume me. My destiny is mine.

I have wondered if the title of this album is supposed to convey a similar thought to that Patti Smith had when she penned these lyrics for “Privilege” on her Easter album:

“In the presence of my enemies, Thou anointest my head with oil - my cup runneth over.

Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Ah, damn, goddamn, goddamn, goddamn –

Here I am!”

Seems like that’s not far from right anyway. This is a great album, just a razor-thin hair shy of indispensable, but better more intense and lasting than the vast majority of things you could stimulate yourself with today – and not nearly as bad for you as some of those things. Well worth an hour-and-a-half of your life.


Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Not the kind of Prog your dad listened to, is it ? This music goes from spacey to crushing riffs, from spiraling cresendos to dark silence, from an ambient mood to frenzied guitars. It builds from a whisper to a wall of sound. From a dark and spooky atmosphere to uplifting joy.

I can't help but think of something that Roger Waters once said while I was listening to this recording, that "ideas" are more important than "virtuosity". Lots of unique ideas and experiments on this double album, spread over four long tracks. I must say though that I wish it was just the first album alone 'cause then it would be a 5 star rating from me. I just find the second disc isn't nearly as dynamic as the first, and it doesn't have those stark contrasts as a result.

For me though this is easily a 4 star album and an important part of GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR's legacy.

Review by Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars Put Your Shiny Coins Back Into Your Wallets Like Ants in an AntHeap

OK, I'm no poet.

3 words can sum up this entire album;

Dull, dull, and dull.

Did I say that this album is dull?

I probably gave you high expectations then.

Maybe GYBE took Radiohead literally when they ironically sang "Hey, man, slow down" at the end of the OK Computer album in 1997.

Glacially slow developments of uninteresting musical ideas "exploring" texture at the expense of actual music give way to... well... nothing really. Barclay James Harvest on Mogadons, possibly. One thing is impressive, though, that the band themselves can actually maintain interest or stay awake during the marathon build-ups and burn-outs, and not least during the inconsequential pieces of rock music in between.

Impressive appears to be the watchword here, but the band try too hard to impress with the layers of interesting sounds, and few are the moments when you feel that any kind of musical portrait is being drawn, or that you are travelling on any kind of musical journey - except, maybe, the very long sort that never seems to end.

I must admit, I was expecting to enjoy the "Storm", the "Cancer Towers", and the "Terrible Canyons of Static", but felt let down at the non-programmatic nature of the soundscapes. My fault, perhaps, for reading the track titles before getting stuck in - but I like to see what expectations the packaging sets up for the music and my reactions on hearing it.

Ever more regressive, the band try to conjoure atmospheres with sampled speech over more glacially slow playing and effects - but with no purpose. The sounds within the pieces are never referential of the titles - one would assume that the titles were thought up independently of the soundscapes as if to lend them some sort of creedence to mask the absence of actual musical ability.

For there is little or no evidence of actual composition here - and I understand that Post-Rock is "supposed" to avoid formal concepts, but it is also supposed to be complex. While there is undoubtedly a web of sounds that is complex, that doesn't equate to being complicated or musically interesting in any way - it equates to many layers. Ironically, the incredibly simplistic forms aren't hard to untangle either - the only reason they may not be immediately obvious is the horrendous length of everything.

It's hardly original either. It all sounds like an elongated spin-off of old ideas, albeit with the lack of intent, intellectual prowess and musical ability of the forebearers. In fact, this is like the stuff you get in the better Prog Rock bands as atmospherics in between the good stuff, but with less imagination.

The final problem: Compression.

Compression sucks the life out of good sounds, and is necessary when everyone wants to turn their instruments up to 11 on the mixing desk, or if a particular sound has too much dynamic. While there is reasonable dynamic for the most part in the quieter sections, in the loudest sections where everything piles in, e.g. "World Police and Friendly Fire", the whole shooting match clips uncomfortably, and no-one with "engineers ears" would want to listen to the resultant mess.

For a band so tightly focussed on timbre, this is a real problem.

To summarise:

Bad production, lack of real musicianship, regressive rather than progressive ideas and overall, a real yawn. Not fit to sit in the same collection as Gentle Giant, King Crimson or Frank Zappa - although Tangerine Dream fans may express the mildest of interest.

Possibly interesting for one listen - but don't part with hard cash for it!

Review by Man With Hat
COLLABORATOR Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team
5 stars After a year or two, and many listens I decide to review this album formally. This is one of those albums that shakes music to the core, and I am afraid that I can not do this album justice. I still don't think I can capture the pure power of this music in words, so for that fact I will try to keep it short. Also, I feel that is one of those album that needs to be discovered by the individual, so I will try to not give too much away with my words.

This fact bears repeating, this is one of those albums that should be listened to by any person that loves music (of which I have yet to only find three others that I say belong to that category). Godspeed...are a canadian nontet which have the power to move the soul in making of their music. (I often think that this album made me believe that you can say more with music then with lyrics). Dark, powerful, eerie, beautiful, melancholy...these are only a few adjective to describe the journey this album (and this band in general) take you on.

It all starts off with Storm, IMO the best track on the album. I personally like the second and last "parts" of this opus (and I find that "Cancer Towers..." is probably the most saddening sounds in all of music [at least that I've heard]). This track alone is enough to show the virtuisity of the band (which is not a word I hear with post rock all too often). Second up is Static. The words "sonic assult" were created for pieces like this one. This song is particular shows off their stellar use of cresendos, decresendos, dynamics, and many of the other essentials in the music world. (which all culminates in one powerful climax that must be heard to believe). Stunning. Third (or first on the second disc) would be Sleep. Starting off with a (somewhat) heartbreaking "speech", which is just the tip of the iceberg with this song. I find it amazing how much can be created by the music of this band (the emotion, the power, the jawdropping awe). This song would also near the top of my all time favorite GYBE! songs, and really needs to be discovered by the listener (perhaps it holds that quality of the most out of all these pieces). Exhillerating. Finally, comes Antennas To Heaven. Unfortunatly this is the weakest track here (I say unfortunatly only because it ends the album). Having said that there is still a lot to praise here, I just don't feel it can compare to the other works here (even in fields that include the fundamentals of music). But it does complete this awe inspiring trip.

All in all this album is essential. Even though it might take a couple of listens to completely "get", once it happens, look out. This album is also the perfect introduction to the genre of post rock (as it started me out and I can't move through it fast enough). I can only hope I captured something with my review. 5 stars without a doubt.

Review by OpethGuitarist
3 stars Patience

The best way to approach this behemoth of a record is carefully, considered, and patient. Out of all the Godspeed records, this may be the most difficult to absorb. This is one of the few records that really takes effort to listen to in order to have a concept for its purpose. The band really control their artistic content here, forcing the listener to have a good attention span or else almost all will be lost.

If you've ever hated when a band has a good concept but never expands on it, you'll feel right at home here, where every idea is meticulously thought out. The pace is a sauntering Sunday walk and never hurried (although I find this hurts the record in some sections), this might be the slowest album I've listened to.

This album is one of the few albums I have that I will love in certain parts and absolutely can't stand others. Part's of Storm, especially, are really breathtaking, and some of the best moments in prog for any band. However, I can't help but associate this record especially to that of Yes's Tales due to the myriad sections of absolute nothingness (although I despise everything in TFTO and actually enjoy this). There are times when you will go 8 minutes before hearing something you can truly enjoy, embrace, and relate to; the time between those 8 minutes will be filled with extended notes that never fade out, vocal spoken passages that add little to the songs(other than length), and to a degree some concepts in minimalism.

When the songs actually do get moving, they are quite enjoyable and quite entertaining. They will take you on a fun ride and you will literally be killing yourself to skip to these sections again on replays because they capture an essence that is rarely found. I really prefer F#A# infiniti over 'Lift...' but that's not to say that many would not love this record, and it is ideal to understanding the concept of post-rock.

Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 2007 Change: I've heard the album a couple more times since I wrote this, and with time, the experience actually got weaker. The music wears out quickly and it's my duty to correct the rating and bring it to three stars, a good purchase but not essential. Interesing to add to your collection if you NEED a post-rock album.

Well, at last one worth listening to...

I'm talking about the post-rock genre and the huge dissapointment it has been to me. Since I started venturing into this territory, I haven't had a pleasant experience but boring, depressing ones. That has partially changed with my hearing of this album, GODPSEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR!'s Lift your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven.

My usual complaints about the post-rock genre can be found here, too, but in smaller doses and, the biggest difference in favor of this album, less evident because of INTERESTING IDEAS, which I hardly could find in Sigur Ros and Mogwai. Yes, this is still depressing music; yes, this is still just a lot of crescendos and variations in intensity with little in the way of MELODIC and THEMATIC variation. But both problems are harder to detect here. In the "mood" department, what this album has going for it is that IS NOT THE SAME all the time, so, even if very scarcely, we actually get a few "up" (if such a word can be used with this genre) moments, with some LIGHT within them, where future and life doesn't look so dead-end like in other post-rock releases (and the metal version of this genre, for that matter). Also, while still true to the "crescendo-only" formula, the ideas are a little bit more developed here, we can actually find themes that are WORKED WITH and not only REPEATED TILL EXHAUSTION.

Another huge difference in the experience I had with GYBE with the ones I had with other bands is that here there's a lot of instrumental elements to be found and to be praised: we can hear the members in GYBE are skilled performers that know how to carry an idea just by adding textures and intensity (as I said, though more complex, it's still post-rock). We can HEAR the DRUMS! Not that an album NEEDS a particular instrument to be good, but if an instrument is present, why not make it HEARABLE? The production therefore is very, very good, of the utmost clarity. The piano, when it appears, sounds with crystal-clear purity, as do the other instruments.

What I think is interesting about this album is, as I said, the TEXTURE work you can find. In terms of thematic variety, there's not much to be found, but the great harmonic work of the musicians make up for the lack of it with beautiful landscapes that transport you to cold, deserted lands. Yes, I don't think there could be anyone that says post-rock takes him to sunny places... but here we are carried to icy lands with patience, with some intelligence, without making the journey a boring, excruciating one.

What a great thing is that this be just an instrumental album. After listening to Sigur Ros' annoying "voice" (which I categorized as the most annoying thing I've ever heard), it makes a lot of sense in music like this to let the sounds do the talking. If it's impossible to think of actual words for a song, it's better not to include vocals, and allow the instruments to take upon themselves the task of expressing what the music wants to express; GYBE! manages to do that with a degree of success I didn't think a post-rock band could achieve.

All in all, a very decent album, even a good one. For me, for my own personal taste, it's still not my kind of thing. It's still too cold a music, it's still too repetitive a music, I still think there's not enough thematic variation to keep me fully interested. But as far as post-rock goes, I doubt I'll encounter anything better. And, personal tastes aside, there's enough originality and innovation going on as to warrant a recommendation even for people not yet acquainted with this genre. As a matter of fact, I guess this is the ONLY logical doorway to this genre. I will give it 4 stars because I think it's an excellent addition to your collection, that is if you want your collection to be diverse and to have a little bit of everything...

... In this case, the BEST of something.

Recommended for: fans of GYBE; fans of post-rock music; fans of post-metal music that can take non-metallic music; open-minded music fans that want to try something they haven't tried as of yet.

Not recommended for: post-rock haters: this album, though a LOT better than others, won't change your mind because it's STILL POST-ROCK; and, as always with this genre's records, I have to tell depressed people to stay away from this. Because if you don't, we could be saying godspeed to you... whether you're a black emperor or not.

Review by Moatilliatta
5 stars The past decade has been marked by an immense uprising of creativity, finally reviving the progressive spirit of the seventies, and, dare I say, improving on it. One of the new genres to have spawned during this movement is post-rock, which by this point needs no explaining, and neither does Godspeed You Black Emperor! One of the figureheads of the movement, Godspeed creates an atmospheric chamber-style sound that is minimalistic, yet fraught with melodies and experiments. There is a lot to take in, but it's never overbearing. You only have to inure yourself to some noise and their use of strange audio excerpts from things like an announcement at an AM-PM convenience store.

Not only the band's masterpiece, but post-rock's cornerstone as well, Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven will floor you with one of the most memorable set of passages in music's history. The album is divided into four multi-movement suites, each marked with emotionally stirring melodies, beautiful lulls, and thunderous climxes. The power emitted by this record is seismic. I promise you that sitting through this will change your musical paradigm. If you thought that this wave of progressive music really had nothing to show beyond emulating past greats (though you would be wrong to think so in the first place), Godspeed will make you reconsider, even if you were the most stubborn past-dweller of them all.

This album is borne of the same writing style as the group's debut and the subsequent EP, but while the debut, despite it's qualities, was a bit drawn on and inconsistent, and the latter fixed those issues in a shorter output, this album manages to do it all extremely fluent for over 80-minutes. All of the postive aspects exhibited before has been synergized into this epic album. The soaring atmospheres will make you motionless, and the climaxes will leave you breathless. I won't go into further detail in analyzing this, because really you get out of it whatever you will, and there certainly is a lot to get out of it. Long made short, this album is not to be missed by anyone.

Review by TRoTZ
5 stars Another collection of movements of supreme art, sublime and ethereal feeling, intense and disturbing soundscapes. Words are not needed when instruments express beauty and emotions so majestically, a heartbreaking cruzade of violins, trumpets, guitars and pounding rhythms, from ethereal subtle moments, haunting long-crescendos to vigorous rock explosions. This time, the band's usual intense feeling was on the format of long, transcendental mini-suites and evolved quite in a different manner.

Their vision is not always so catastrophic here, as seen on the opening "Storm" - it's even majesticfully joyfull, like a beautiful praise to the Planet's beauty. But the worst side of Human Being touch inevitably happens, expressed on its chaotic middle and heartbreaking distorted piano-driven grandiose final. "Static" continues this painfull retrospective analysis, a disturbing evolution of sound effects leading to a cathartic moan, as if it was the last chance to put things back, to save the World. The compelling "Sleep" is the point of return. While elevating their existencial anguish to its peak, it ends in a beautifully subtle appeal of hope, opening a door to the metaphysical introspective final ode "Antennas to Heaven".

GY!BE is the band which took post-rock to its highest symphonic level, reaching levels of profundity almost never seen in rock music. More again, a warning for the non-human part of Human Being.

Not everyone is able to understand a Beethoven's symphony, a Dostoievsky's book or a Picasso's artwork. As with these, GY!BE's eclectic music can only be understood by those who irradiate a great dose of human sensibility.

Review by thellama73
COLLABORATOR Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars I bought album on the strength of its packaging, the band name and numerous rave reviews I had heard for them. It's a two disc set in a wonderfully pretentious (in the best sense of the word) cardboard sleeve. All of these things led me to believe I was holding something magical and unique. Well, after having listened to it many times, I think that the second adjective applies, but not the first.

If you're already familiar with post rock, you will have a good idea what to expect. GYBE mainly focus on created long, slow, drawn out textures of sound that build over the course of four twenty minute tracks. This is coupled with a number of spoken word passages that rest atop the background wash of sound. This is basically the description I was given of the band, and it sounds awesome doesn't it? Unfortunately, while the above is an accurate representation of the music, it is not nearly as good as it sounds.

All of the tracks are similar in structure and sound. I would be hard pressed to tell one from the other. Storm starts out nicely, with a brooding atmosphere that gradually builds. But after fifteen minutes of the same, formulaic builds and releases with no real changes of note, I find myself switching off mentally. By disc two I have fallen asleeep.

I am a fan of ambient music, so it seems strange that repetition and lack of direction would bother me, but I think the difference here is that "Lift Your Skinny Fists" doesn't present itself as an ambient album. It promises more, especially with the dramatic crescendos that lead nowhere. The music is well constructed and well produced from a technical standpoint, but it just doesn't do anything for me and I find it hopelessly tedious. If you are a fan of post-rock, however, you will probably like this album a great deal. Therefore, I'm giving it two stars.

Review by FruMp
4 stars This is one of the quintessential post-rock albums.

'Lift your skinny fists' is often quite a sparse work (which is why I don't have a lot to say about it) consisting mainly of layers of different instruments building to a crescendo, with various voice samples present to help set the mood. The opening track 'Storm' is the best on the album building to a triumphant level before a welcome release and venturing through various symphonic territories. Towards the end of the album it does lose a bit of focus but overall it's a worthwhile experience recommended to anyone into post-rock or relaxing ambient music - good for sleeping.

Review by ProgBagel
3 stars Godspeed You Black Emperor! - 'Lift Your Skinny Fists like Antennas to Heaven' 3 stars

A slight disappointment.

After the stunning, groundbreaking debut album and the near equal predecessor EP, this album just didn't stand up to my expectations. From a remote view, this album would seem like the ultimate treat considering 4 epics (22-22-23-18 minutes) were on this album. On 'F#A#(infinity)' I felt Godspeed used up every minute of their long pieces to really bring the message across.

This album is missing some of its appeal. The dialogues are a little confusing and not really captivating. For example, an old man reminiscing about the beach on Coney Island and how nobody sleeps on it does not really make me feel too sorry about it. The music has also lost some of its dynamics and sparks. The song 'Static' describes the music perfectly. The piece just consists of some noisy sections and some obnoxious ambience. These are some examples that are rampant in areas across this large record.

While I was not particularly impressed with this album, it was still a good one. The pieces could have been shortened and sweetened into something really wonderful. A Godspeed fan should certainly not pass this one up.

Review by Dim
4 stars GY!BE one of the greatest bands of all time, no doubt. While I believe that f#a# infinity is a better album, this one is truly the more influential. Delayed distortion, positive atmospheres, tremolo and delay, horn sections, this album started it all. Yeah, Mogwai, Tortoise, Talk Talk, and Slint are supposed to be the God fathers of the genre, but this single collection of songs are what define modern day post rock.

There really is little to say about the album. The first song starts extremely happy, with soft horns in the beginning, and ten minutes later you have a nine piece band giving all they got to create some of the most intense and beautiful music you have ever heard. All this just for the song to take one eighty degree turn to some of the most bleakest, depressing music created. The second is almost as bleak, but with a very hard hitting and emotional monologue at the beginning that really takes the spot light for the rest of the song. The, bleak, but at the same time very experimental, instead of focusing on climaxes through either really pessimistic, or optimistic sections, they add layer upon layer of fuzzy distorted guitar with delay of course, therefore adding more and more tension, creating a climax with almost no melody. The third not as depressing, but just as experimental, and arguably the best song of the four.

The only thing that really bothers me on this album is that it's very samesy, Efrim must have been really excited about delaying his distortion, cause that guitar tone is used throughout the album in almost every climax. Don't get me wrong, it's my favorite tone out there, but really this group defines versatility, they shouldn't need to use the same tone for every climax. One thing I really like about the album is the drumming! Post rockers aren't known for their drummers, but man this guy can run circles around some of the bigger guys out there. He's able to make a really complex beat, and speed it up, do really cool fills, and knows how to use his kit to really give that extra power to the height of all the songs.

Well, not a masterpiece for it's lack of variation, but definitely extremely close. Four stars.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars First off, I have to admit that basically I am not into this kind of music because it's a very slow moving music with many repetitions of chords and notes, less dynamic than any other music in terms of tempo. I have to have an extreme patience to enjoy it. But with a passage of time, I can see the beauty of the music especially when I refer the music as a media for contemplation. One thing I would say about the music is that all of them are very dark (track 1 to track 4) with lengthy and spacey nuance. To be specific on contemplation, I am referring to spirituality in ways to meet with God, The Compassionate, The Merciful.

This is a fasting month for Moslem and according to the Koran, during the month of Ramadhan (fasting month) we are urged to read the Koran during daylights as well as during the night. Godspeed You! Black Emperor's "Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven" music is very suitable to create the nuance of Koran reading time. I am not inviting that you listen to this album first before reading the Koran because you don't need to, actually. But, when I am listening to this music, it reminds me to imagine "life after death" which requires doing good deeds during our lives in this world. I find this music helps me stimulate a better Koran reading, understand its meanings and implement the good deeds in day-to-day life. The lengthy nature of the music reminds me to the longest surah in Koran, i.e. Al Baqarah (the Cow) that typically requires minimum of two and a half hours of consistent reading to complete, comprises 286 verses.

The way I connect this music with spirituality is pretty simple: the music moves very slowly from one passage to another and it creates a contemplation nuance to reflect what I am doing and what I should have been doing as stated in Koran. This can serve as good background to understand the whole meaning of the verses in real life.

Musically, this album comprises elements of space music, avant garde, orchestra, and sound scape engineering. If you are fan of Pink Floyd, you have been definitely quite patient in the intro of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". That piece of music occurs frequently right here in this album with many repetitions. But of course the music also moves to passages with drumming and sometimes in very loud setting that you should reduce your amplifier volume.

Overall, this is a good post modern rock music that should be listened to frequently to capture the subtleties of the music and embrace the beauty slowly. You will find segments with killing notes. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW (i-Rock! Music Community)

Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Many things have been said about this album. According to me this is in the direct mood of vibrant-slow moving ambient post-rockin' stuffs released by others americans as Deaf Center, Helios or even Machinefabrieck. This album is very representative of the experimental post-rock genre a brilliant introduction for neophyts. All compositions are intimate excursions throw dense electronic atmospherics (sometimes involved into static and expressive droning chords) and delicate minimal acoustic arrangements . Some tracks as Terrible Canyons of Statics can really transport you into cloudy mindscapes thanks to a complex kaleidoscope of burgeoning ambient textures and colourful electronic tones. This is not an essential recording but a pleasant listening and a high recommendation for fans of modern minimal ambient and post-kraut experimentations.
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is very close to being GSYBE's best work. Four long tracks make up this double CD. Whoever wondered if a band like The Cure were to sound like when doing purely conceptual abstract soundscapes then GSYBE are the perfect example of how depressing, melancholic, manic and occassionally uplifting music should be delivered. Did I forget the adjective beautiful? That too. Lift Your Skinny Fists starts with the anthemic Storm. 22 minutes of swirling sounds, , slow builds, crashing crescendo's and fistlike pounding deliveries from the various musicians. Credentials are not advertised on GSYBE works much and this album is no exception. It does not matter who they are, more importantly the music takes you into another dimension or puts you on another level. Static is more laid back for the most part, some great spoken word by either a cult member or an evangelical messenger. Static from God? The mood starts shifting about nine minutes in as the songs builds to another hypnotic climax. The melancholic theme ubiquitous throughout. Sleep being the third part of this double set is more of the same vein in Static mode and the closing track Antennas to Heaven reminds me of a modern 18 minute version off Zeit from those famous German stalwarts Tangerine Dream. This is a wonderful work from this Canadian band. All their work is of a high calibre and I cannot stress enough the importance of their input in modern day progressive terms. Four and a half stars for an excellent studio album but also a vital ingredient to the Progressive Post/Math Rock catalogue.
Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars There is post-rock pattern. Slow start, even slowly coming, it takes minutes to reach the top of post-rock ecstasy heights. I have two friends who are post fans and by fans I mean fanatics. I can imagine their feelings when listening to these ethereal sounds. Especially on this album.

This is kinda exercise matter for me, I take this album as perfect example of good post rock. Am I wrong ? I don't think so. Storm has it's climax after three minutes and even during this time it grows more and more. It's not music to listen to with open eyes. You have to close them and flow away. And of course, also like this genre. This style of music is also very difficult to approach, due to instrumentalision of tracks. It's poesy without words, is it even possible ? It's like when you have book, you also have to imagine impression on you. How you feel it, how you take it at all. After storm in Storm, there is peace.

Review by Negoba
3 stars Meditation

Film Music...maybe


Too Long...probably

Furniture Music...Yes!!!

Eric Satie, a turn of the 19th to 20th century composer and forefather of ambient music, coined the term "furniture music" to describe his work. The music was designed to be performed live but remain in the background, part of the mood of the occasion (part of the furniture). When I listen to Godspeed You Black Emperor's LIFT YOUR SKINNY FISTS (sorry only four words in a title and no pretentious random punctuation marks) the term seems remarkably fitting. The music is an ambient-styled, dark moody journey based on rock instruments with additional strings and electronic effects. In typical post-rock fashion the music depends on sssslllloooowwww builds from simple melancholy to multi-layered bombast and then back again.

The bombast really makes using this as meditation music impossible. It becomes quite chaotic with a fair bit of energy and too much demand of attention at that point. The quiet parts, however, would be perfect for this purpose; they are quite new-agey. There is essentially no melody here just mood, timbre, layers. But even with the multiple layers, there's really no formal harmony either. Different instruments move in a somewhat related manner such that some counterpoint and movement fuels the emotion, but this is not jazz. More like krautrock but more structured, long sequences revolving around the same tonal center.

If this sounds colossally boring (considering the whole album consists of 4 twenty minute pieces of this), I'm sure it is to some people. Even to me, the band spends way to long to evolve through the different textures. This would be fine if the music was intended to be only background music, but it's not. It asks for just enough of you attention that you must give it some focus but does not give near enough back for the majority of prog fans to enjoy it. What's more, it is very hard to consider this progressive. The techniques employed here are familiar movie soundtrack moves, though again the music here moves way too slowly to work functionally in that capacity either.

However, there is something beautiful going on here. The music is quite emotionally evocative. It IS pretty. The skill of the musicians is not in doubt. The sense of risk and adventurousness is there. It is not surprising that this music connects to a narrow target audience and has them hooked. But again, that audience is going to be narrow.

For me there is just too much repetition and not enough melody. I have very mixed feelings?though to call this masterpiece seems alien to me, it is also undeniable that some real art is happening here. I'll take the middle road with 3/5 stars.

Review by Prog Leviathan
3 stars For many, this is the post-rock record, or at least the GY!BE record, but I disagree. It is excessively long, and doesn't leave much of an impact after the demanding task of finishing it.

Typical of the genre, "LYSFLATH" takes its time to build musically, establishing simple atmospherics and growing to a few powerful moments of genuine intensity, unsettling to some listeners because of its extremely depressing, enervating feel. I like this style of music, finding it an excellent change of pace from my usual dose of melody and flashy technical musicianship. It works very well as study/background music, stylishly drifting into the ether only to emerge just when one has forgotten it was there.

The playing and songwriting is actually quite good, but there is a ton of sonic-bushwacking the listener will have to go through to find it. There are frequent empty spaces and aimless spoken-word sections, and I can't help but think that some judiscious editing in the studio may help tighten this album's focus.

While fans of the band and genre will doubtless find innumerable highlights hidden within, casual fans will find getting through this album's double-length a unique chore. Not the best place to start one's post-rock journey.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: NA Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

Review by Rune2000
4 stars After being completely mesmerized by Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada it was only a matter of time until I would get my hands on another Godspeed You! Black Emperor (or GY!BE) release. Once again I took the advice of the fellow Prog Archives-reviewers and picked the highest praised studio album as my next pick.

Beside being the most popular release in terms of number of ratings Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven is also the longest album recorded by this nine-piece collective with almost 90 minutes worth of music to explore here. The material is roughly split into four 20 minute long compositions, a style that is quite familiar to fans of progressive rock since everyone from Yes (Tales From Topographic Oceans) to Klaus Schulze have used this format back in the day when vinyls limited the composition lengths. It also happens to be one of my least favorite formats to explore since it's easy for me to pick out one or two favorites out of the bunch leaving the other compositions out in the cold. Once this happens it usually becomes difficult for me to get into the rest of the material especially since I rarely manage to sit through these type of records in one go.

Storm became my favorite composition from the first time I've heard it. I guess that the build-up that is incorporated into the piece is the easiest one to relate to due to its simplicity. It slowly transitions from a pleasant and quite beginning all the way to the loud conclusion that ends towards the 18th minute. The last 5 minutes of Storm start with a Welcome to Barco-announcement followed by a very sad epilogue that makes this composition a well-balanced piece of art to my ears.

The other three compositions lack the simple structure of the first piece which therefore have become a lot harder for me to appreciate. Sleep comes close to the fluent style of Storm since it's only split into three sections. Still I'm not too fond of the intro narration that supposedly should create a sense of nostalgia in the listener's mind, this is definitely one of those occasions where I would have preferred the music to do the talking instead.

Granted that I still don't feel exceptionally accustomed to Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven even though I've given this album quite a few spins over the years, it almost feels like I'll never grow into this music as well as I did with the much shorter Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada. Still this is an album well worth exploring once you've started to acquire the taste for GY!BE and their magnificent music.

***** star songs: Storm (22:32)

**** star songs: Static (22:36) Sleep (23:17) Antennas To Heaven (18:57)

Review by Flucktrot
2 stars This is perhaps the largest exercise in patience I've experienced, and every time with album, my patience runs out. It's like having a spooky movie on but not watching it, with lots of dissonant drones, background noises, and other effects.

When they do decide to play, which is approximately 1/3 of the album, they do produce a unique sound, which is often very dissonant and eerie, particularly by the strings and guitar. The first...movement I suppose would be the best the best, probably because it contains more of what I would consider music, and certainly the happiest melody on the album. After that, it's largely ambient, minor key, and...well...boring. It reminds me a lot of The Mars Volta in the use of atmospherics and dead space.

I admit that part of my dislike for this album is my personal approach to listening to music. I put music on and want to concentrate primarily on that; however, I don't think that's the best strategy for this album. You can put it on, go to that relaxed but slightly on edge mood, and not have to concentrate on the music.

Not for me, but it may be more the genre than the album. This doesn't have a place in every prog collection, but I'm sure for some it would fit quite well. In my opinion, especially this being a double album, is that Fists is way too much of way too little.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I am glad I 'm reviewing this album now, in 2010, not in year of release ten years ago. As usual, every new trends and great albums should be tested by time. When listening this album now, I feel even more than years before how great it is. Great in a sense of concentrated post-rock aesthetics and realisation of these ideas.

Double album of just 4 long compositions. Down tempo mix of ambient, unusual aerial guitar sounds, electronic effects and chamber classic. Full of spacey atmosphere with guitars explosions, kraut-rock roots, interesting melodies, but most important - being such a long instrumental album, its music is never boring or empty. Yes, to accept it you need to be ready for such kind of music, but if you like Pink Floydian spacey compositions, Frippian soundscapes or early Tangerine Dream, you will feel with this album very comfortable.

Looking from ten years time distance, one can see how great this work was! During all these years you will hardly find post-rock album with more fresh ideas, interesting interpretation, or just more multi layered and such rich music! Post rock obviously passed it's greatest moment, myriads of clones are still all around, but you will hardly find more than a few post-rock albums of the same musical level.

For those new with post-rock I can recommend this album as one of best entrance release and cornerstone of post-rock legacy.

My rating is 4+.

Review by The Truth
COLLABORATOR Post/Math Rock Team
5 stars Absolutely stunning album, so simplistic, yet so complex, it's really a mystery how this band acheived this.

First off, I can almost guarantee you won't get it first listen. Sorry but that's how it is, suck it up and listen again, eventually I'm pretty sure that you will fall in love.

We start off with some very quiet cello, violin and guitar driven music which immeadiately introduces us to one of the albums best features: how well the instruments blend together. Simple thing that really makes a difference. The music crescendos ever-so slowly just making your ears glide along the notes. Eventually it reaches it's epic peak of amazing music, now driven by electric guitar. It does the crescendo thing again and soon enough you just crave the music. It's a trip, it really is. Another cool feature of this album is the voices and sound effects you get. In the first track after the second crescendo comes to it's slow we get some type of overcom voice suggesting that we avoid contact with a certain type of persons. The voice grows full of static and eventually seemingly bursts and the quiet piano takes it's place. The track ends with some piano and violin playing quietly, a very melancholic ending.

The next track starts with some kind of eerie noise that tingles your ears. Various sound effects surround the eerie noise and creates a very unsettling atmosphere. After awhile it turns into static, as the title suggests, and then into more of the violin and guitar driven music (which has a welcome return). Now voices of some type of religous man surround it, somehow this adds to the eerie atmosphere. Then after some very quiet bits violin and some type of plucked instrument it starts crescendoing again. After a violent burst of electric guitar and violin driven music (which lasts sometime, this section is just plain epic) it slows to the eerie noises that were at the start and eventually ends.

To start the next disc, some old man is rambling about the days when he was younger at Coney Island. This creates comic relief but somehow has a sense of unease about it. This turns into (once again) string driven music which crescendos but slows and soft guitar music starts. It crescendos once again from there into a slow almost jam-like section which crescedos once again (if you haven't noticed the whole album is pretty much one big crescendo) into some more powerful guitar music with strings backing it. It maintains the heavy atmosphere for some time before starting to come to a slow. But soon the slow picks up pace and becomes fairly heavy again. Then it becomes even more heavy! This track ends with the electric guitar slowly fading out with the drums.

The next track starts with some kind of country jam (weird to start the track) but that is eventually drowned out by synths. Then a nice little glockenspiel solo revives the eerie feeling. (A good word to describe this music is moody, because it often shifts moods slowly and rapidly) After some children's voices the violin comes back in and sort of soothes your mind. That doesn't last long, after a short pause the whole scene bursts into a heavy guitar driven piece. After that slows, more piano and synth (I believe that's what I hear) and soon some violin starts to somewhat pick up the pace. Drums and guitar come end and the moodiness continues. Crescendo again and the decrescendo again to more violin. From here it doesn't really pick up pace again but electronic noises drown out the violin and the album ends with an eerie feeling, leaving you exhausted.

Simply (and this term is almost a cliche when describing this band) an eargasm. Music so hard to describe, so hard to get, and yet... You love it. It's just a rarity among music nowadays, something really refreshing to the ear.

Go ahead and grab a copy, you may not like it at first but trust me, if you listen hard, you'll love it.

Review by zravkapt
4 stars This band gave me hope that there was still good new music out there to be discovered. One of the most popular 'post-rock' groups, they were still called Godspeed You Black Emperor! here, and not Godspeed YOUUU!!! Black Emperor. As much as I like this album, I think making it 2 CDs was sort of pointless; they could have put the best moments on one 80 minute CD. Man, I hate the concept of double albums. Anyway, the music here is really good for the most part.

There are two guitarists, two drummers and two bass players here. In addition, there are members who play violin, horns, and keyboards. No vocals. Only voiceovers from various sources, including actual interviews the band did with different people. There are added sound effects and everyday noises here throughout. The music has great buildups to amazing crescendos. "Storm" is a great track and the closest thing to symphonic prog here. Like most of GYBE's music it starts off mellow and quiet before the guitars and drums come in and everything gets louder and more bombastic. It settles back down again before the music erupts yet again. I always liked the part at the end where you hear an announcement(in English and Spanish) telling customers to avoid people trying to sell them stuff or wash their cars, etc. Then you get some piano and a guy in a bad mood talking loudly; his voice has been distorted to the point where you can't understand what he's saying. Great stuff

"Static" has the most sound effects and talking but the least interesting bits of music on the whole album. They should have cut this track in half to make the album fit on one CD. "Sleep" is the opposite of "Static": it has the least non-music and some of the best playing and crescendos on the album. It starts off with the best talking part on any GYBE album. An old man talks about being a child visiting Coney Island. He relates how people from all over the world would come to Coney Island and it was a beautiful place. He got lost one time and was found again. It was so safe in those days people would sleep overnight on the beach. "They don't do it anymore," he says, "Things changed, see....they don't sleep anymore on the beach".

I like how the guitar in "Sleep" sometimes sounds like a theremin. I think they use bows on their guitars sometimes, Jimmy Page-style. Beginning around 18-minutes you get some really great drumming and violin work; I wish these guys sounded like this more often. "Antennas To Heaven" starts with a field recording of some guy playing a folk song. Then you get some weird feedback noises before you hear glockenspiels. Some children are talking and singing in French before we get some more feedback and some violins. All of a sudden it goes into the most mainstream sounding moment on the whole album. It really sounds like some 90s 'alternative' music. The rest of the track is stereotypical post- rock and some dark ambient sounds.

Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven is one of the best album titles I've ever heard. This is one of the better albums I've heard from the post-rock genre. These guys recently reformed to play live gigs; if they ever record again I doubt what they come up with will be as good as this. But who knows. Not the most consistent album ever but a really good one. 4 stars.

Review by Warthur
5 stars Just as the ambient end of progressive electronic had Tangerine Dream's Zeit, just as the Canterbury scene had Soft Machine's Third, just as symphonic prog (infamously) had Tales From Topographic Oceans, so too did post-rock have Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven. If there were ever any doubt that by the beginning of the 2000s a healthy cross- pollination was occurring between post-rock and classic prog, Godspeed You Black Emperor proved it by putting out a double album of four tracks, each the length of a vinyl side, nearly three decades after the Topographic Oceans controversy made such an approach highly risky in a rock context.

It's also perhaps the band's best work, combining some of their most evocative and intriguing pieces of found audio, the dark post-apocalyptic post-rock style they had developed on their preceding releases, and presenting a bit more variation in the sound - some parts of the album approach dark ambient territory, whilst some of the louder crescendos represent the most complex and musically busy material the band would ever record. On the whole, the epic structure of the album is absolutely perfect for Godspeed's style - they are, at the end of the day, a band all about creating vast rubble-strewn soundscapes for the listener to lose themselves in and explore. One of the essential post-rock releases.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
5 stars Spellbinding music to tantalise the senses...

Godspeed You! Black Emperor (GY!BE) is a band that has a massive cult following as an online oddity. I first encountered them on websites and was immediately drawn in by their high strangeness and sonic soundscapes of beauty and darkness. The band have received rave reviews online and have generated a mystique that is unique to the world of music. They rarely picture themselves on albums, in fact even replace themselves for an imposter punk band on this album, and they remain virtually anonymous. The music is made up of lengthy ambience and some chilling crescendos, and scattered throughout are soundbytes of narratives, voices and characterisations that have become synonymous with their sound.

"Lift Your Skinny Fists, Like Antennas To Heaven" is made up of an hour and a half of mesmirising musical scapes over 2 CDs, and is perhaps the pinnacle of the band in terms of atmospherics and emotionally charged climaxes. There is a distinct sadness that permeates the sound, as if one is wallowing in the pits of misery at the depth of their darkest hour, and yet there is something uplifting about the music, almost cathartic to purge the emotions at the edge of madness. It is almost impossible to explain or categorise the music, and even harder to describe what the music is doing to the system, but there is definitely a therapeutic impact that occurs that transcends the normal listening experience. I put this on not really expecting much but as the music gained momentum and became intense I was absolutely moved almost to tears by the sheer beauty and the creative tour de force of GY!BE; there is nothing else like this.

I sat down and read many reviews online as I listened and this even further cemented my impression that I was listening to modern day genius. There are only four tracks over the 90 minutes and they are all jammed with immeasurable dynamism; from the incredible darkness of 'Storm' to the incomparable beauty of 'Static'; and then onto CD2 with mesmirising haunting 'Sleep' to the strange finale 'Antennas To Heaven', this is one of the most compelling albums of the millennium. The sheer synergy of music, effects and atmosphere have the commanding power to absorb the listener and drag them into the sonic intensity. Don't just take my word for it; look at what some of the online reviewers on Prog Archives are stating:

Loserboy: "...easily draws the listener into that relaxed mental spacial void where all one can consider is relaxation. A sonic bonanza for your brain."

BrainRock Ben: "If you only buy one GYBE! album, buy this one."

Jim Garten: "You will not be left humming any melodies, as there are actually very few, you will not have inspirational lyrics to quote to your friends, as the album is completely instrumental, you will not actually know why you like the album, but I almost guarantee you will."

penguindf12: "The post-rock group of the new century. The herald of the apocalypse."

frenchie: "This album offers something new, daring, experimental and heavenly to listen to."

Fitzcarraldo: "Listening to these two CDs is a mesmerising experience. I come away feeling quite refreshed. There are no killer riffs, nothing to make you tap your foot, nothing to make you hum, yet the CDs are compelling."

[email protected]: "Beautiful, haunting, complex, long, ambient, exciting, gaining momentum, orchestral, voice overs, swept away, GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR!"

Cygnus X-2: "It often feels like you're in a dream when listening to these sections. But then when the band erupts into a bombastic section, the atmosphere changes drastically from light to dark, giving a sense of shock and awe to the listener."

Zac M: "A masterpiece like this cannot be overlooked by anyone."

the scientist: "Great monument of Post Rock. Slowly the band create a threatening atmosphere, which becomes all the more intense near the end."

Ricochet: "Gods of Sounds, of Vision, of Context and of Passion that "goes everlasting." "

ClemofNazareth: "This is a great album, just a razor-thin hair shy of indispensable, but better more intense and lasting than the vast majority of things you could stimulate yourself with today ... and not nearly as bad for you as some of those things. Well worth an hour-and-a-half of your life."

lightbulb_son: "The Holy Grail of Post-Rock."

Man With Hat: "This is one of those albums that shakes music to the core, and I am afraid that I can not do this album justice. I still don't think I can capture the pure power of this music in words."

Pnoom!: "I was left dazed, gasping for air, struggling to maintain consciousness as wave upon wave of admiration and awe washed over every pore of my body. I had never experienced anything like this."

Moatilliatta: "The soaring atmospheres will make you motionless, and the climaxes will leave you breathless."

gandalf31: "It was the only album? that changed my whole life forever and ever."

kaiser willhelm: "...spoken word, climaxes, frantic guitars, atmosphere, horns. This album takes a lot of patience and effort on the part of the listener... its a very demanding album but in the end, extremely rewarding."

Preciousgoo: "The songs themselves are vast, blazing deserts of sonic power, that conjure up images of hope, love, sadness, and fragile beauty. Every track seems to live and breathe."

The Truth: " eargasm. Music so hard to describe, so hard to get, and yet... You love it. It's just a rarity among music nowadays, something really refreshing to the ear."

I thought these reviews were over the top until I actually experienced it myself and then I knew I was listening to a masterpiece that transcends music and defies description. In conclusion, I think it is fair to say that this album will not be an easy listen but you will come out the other end feeling quite moved by this album. I believe the music causes certain feelings to surface and it will be a personal journey, depending on where you are at in life and what your circumstances are as to how this will affect you. In any case, I applaud the band for creating music for the senses, and not bowing down to what one may consider to be the essential ingredients of music. GY!BE break the barriers of convention and create music without a melody to hook onto, without sung lyrics, without time limits, infinitely patient, with layered sounds generated to fill the silence with sonic violence, and then move the listener with angelic beauty, and then building ever so gradually to a climax, only to break back to an ambience, before exploding into a new exploration of emotion. The album as a whole must be listened to from start to end and not broken into pieces or it loses it's hypnotic stranglehold. This is true earphone music that must be experienced. It may not grab you immediately but it soon transfixes and refuses to let go until the last spellbinding tone resounds. A maddeningly brilliant and unforgettable album of incoherent beauty.

Review by Neu!mann
5 stars The acclaimed second album by the Canadian godfathers of Post Rock continues to shoulder a heavy load of high expectations, but suffers the burden with total confidence, in the process attaining a creative zenith rarely seen by other bands. The ensemble's new-found sense of unity and purpose must have been obvious from the opening notes of "Storm", the first of the album's four 20-minute anthems: the ecstatic intro to the piece is undiluted Post Rock bliss, a joyous noise the group could have bottled and patented.

But it's the rising crescendo afterward that never fails to send a shiver of ecstasy down my aging spine. And the rest of the album, spread out over two discs, follows a similar formula with the same effect. The key to the music is in its arrangement: the repetition of slow instrumental build-up, attenuated climax, and lingering coda, with quieter melancholy passages juxtaposed against moments of truly euphoric bedlam.

Other reviewers here have capably dissected each lengthy cut, sometimes inspired to colorful flights of rhetoric (see AtomicCrimsonRush's omnibus compilation), so I won't step on their toes with my own gushing prose. But take a moment to consider the larger structure of the whole album, in which each track functions like a separate movement in a single 90-minute symphony. The music itself is hardly difficult or challenging, but the entirety demands a lot of patience: this is not an album designed for casual listening.

I recommend ignoring the whimsical sub-titles (possibly included for maximum publishing royalties), in order to better hear each 20-minute opus as a complete experience. Unlike the band's more loosely assembled debut album, the discreet interior sections were pieced together in a more holistic manner better suited to the GY!BE brand of large scale composition.

With an open mind and a patient pair of ears this ambitious double-disc will stand revealed as an epic achievement, and a landmark recording of its kind. Add one more voice to the near-unanimous chorus of praise surrounding it.

Review by Dobermensch
3 stars The year 2000 was the perfect release date for this slab of doom. 'Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven' sounds like the accumulation of all 20th Century history squashed into one 90 minute double album. And despite being without vocals packs a mighty punch.

An incredibly sad and non uplifting album which occasionally sounds more like an artistic statement than a musical one. Unfortunately my eyebrows frown throughout this every time I hear it. All I can think on is death. This recording gives me seriously bad thoughts of WW1 and WW2.

This is one of those albums that genuinely brings me down. The most masterful thing the band achieve in this recording is the fact that they so easily tap into the extremes of human emotion. And by God, is this an emotional album. Every time I hear it I feel like the end of the world is about to happen. It really is that upsetting. Not good...

An emotionally wrought album which I only occasionally play to due to the slabs of concrete pressing down on my shoulders and crushing my skull as I listen.I still don't know if it's the chords used or the radio footage - but this really hurts my soul.

It's still undoubtedly a thing of beauty for those who can see past war.

Review by siLLy puPPy
5 stars GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR really went for it on their 2nd full album LIFT YOUR SKINNY FISTS LIKE ANTENNAS TO HEAVEN and made one of the most classic and eclectic post-rock albums ever. Although this double album embraces the post-apocalyptic soundscapes that the previous album and EP so successfully achieved, this album covers a much broader musical spectrum. As usual the band starts out with violins and soft repetitive musical patterns that slowly ratchet their way up the intensity scale. The album is broken up into four long sprawling tracks which are further subdivided into smaller parts but I rarely care about the minutia of song titles when I listen to such strange music like this as I usually think of something different than what was intended anyways. In fact the first track "Storm" doesn't necessarily conjure up meteorological connotations at all but makes me think of a colony of ants marching into a spiraled funnel. The rhythm is so steady and the variations occur at the speed of molasses flowing down a cone. The music starts out in a 3/3 waltz timing and somewhere along the intensity divide changes course into a 4/4 time signature as the tempo slowly gets faster and faster.

This album is amazing in how it combines elements of post-rock with ambient passages, classical chamber rock and plunderphonic sound samplings. Not unlike their other albums, it simply takes all those elements and adds on more. The soft parts are even more lush and ambient, the heavy parts are faster and louder and all seems to have the ability to take you on a limitless parade of sound that only ends arbitrarily for the sake of having to end the album. The melodic progressions are minimal while the subtle variations that ratchet the crescendos remind me more of the minimalist classical music of Terry Riley in how it's composed. The music of GODSPEED is very hard to write about since this is a kind of music that is highly subjective in how it affects the listener at any given moment. As many times as i've listened to this I am always amazed at how little is going on musically and yet how much is going on musically. It always leaves me a little perplexed as to why I like this yet I always end up realizing that I do. As with any successful type of avant-garde music it demands that the listener questions their very definition of what music is and with this release it pushes the boundaries even further. All I can say is that your fists don't have to be skinny to enjoy this one but even though it doesn't sound like anything you would hear in heaven it certainly gives a glimpse into another dimension where heaven might be a bit nearer.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven' - Godspeed You! Black Emperor (83/100)

Unlike so many of rock music's offshoots and derivatives, post-rock history only hit its stride in the new millennium. That Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven is already considered such a classic in spite of its relative youth (14 years, by my current count) might suggest the depth and burstfire influence it's had on music since. While most 14 year olds are in the mid-reaches of Middle School and possibly eschewing their Star Wars lunchboxes in favour of experimentation with lurid marijuanas and cheap liquor, Lift Yr. Skinny Fists has set the standard for one of the most interesting stylistic developments of the millennium. Like the music itself or not; that's a pretty goddamned impressive feat.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor were a point of contention throughout my youthful listening ventures. I've always been a fan of the 'cinematic' experience in music, and Godspeed have that painted all over them; at the same time, in spite of my enduring love of the ambient form, there's just been something about their work that's kept me from loving it. I remember listening to their debut in high school and being completely unmoved by it, much to the chagrin of friends with nothing but lavish praise to give the band. Some years later, and I am beginning to see what I missed with Lift Yr. Skinny Fists. Undoubtedly, it's a more compelling experience than its predecessor, not only improving on the longwinded orchestrations of F♯ A♯ ∞ but also expanding past it. Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven simultaneously manages to be more ambitious and more accessible than Godspeed were before. It's a cinematic experience in sound-form that consequently nearly lasts the length of the average film. For all of its meticulous detail and scope, it's still not as emotionally compelling as I would have liked to hear in a post-rock recording, but I've little doubt Lift Yr. Skinny Fists justifies the respect and most of the acclaim its earned.

The 'four tracks, twenty minutes each' format here reminds me of another of my favourite ambient double albums. Indeed, Tangerine Dream's chilling Zeit comes to mind several times; in spite of Zeit being a predominantly electronic release and Skinny Fists consisting largely of electric guitar flourishes and sampled field recordings, there's a similar sense of awe and immersiveness to be felt here. Although I've had at least one friend proclaim to me that Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven is the embodiment of what post-rock is all about, each time I've listened to the album it's never felt like an all- encompassing description of the music. The quintessential post-rock crescendos and expansive textures are here in full, but the album would just as easily merit the label of 'ambient'. I believe it was Brian Eno that described ambient music as something that could be enjoyed in the background as well as it could be dissected by an active and attentive ear. I might go a step further and say it is good ambient music that does this; Lift Yr. Skinny Fists is no exception.

The daunting prospect of four massive movements is either downplayed or amplified by the fact that the pieces aren't so much start-to-finish compositions as they are each homes for consistently eclectic (and seemingly unrelated) ideas. Even after becoming familiar with Lift Yr. Skinny Fists as a whole, it's still difficult to draw an association between the beginning and end of a movement. Judging from the appropriately byzantine track listing (with enough listed sub-sections to make King Crimson whizz their pants) the four chunks are so divided to give the sense of 'vinyl sides' in a digital age; more than that, the spoken word samples are given greater weight and poignancy when there's no track distinction separating them from the music itself. As it tends to be with potentially abstract work like Skinny Fists-no inherent meaning is laid out for the audience to draw from- most of the way these four compositions interact within themselves can and should be interpreted subjectively. Rest assured, there's no doubt that the album has been arranged the way it is with meticulous care and focus.

Although they occupy a much smaller proportion of the album than I was expecting, the actual post-rock segments are easily the best thing Skinny Fists has to offer. I swear the first time I listened to the uplifting beginnings of "Storm", it felt like I was falling in love in the summer, even though I was listening to it on a stinky bus with clouds pissing rain every which way outside. The latter movements ("Sleep" and "Antennas to Heaven") are even more glorious in this regard; the latter of the two in particular has a beautifully vulnerable air to the way the guitars bend and weep. I think one of the things that keeps me from calling Godspeed's opus one of my favourite post-rock records is that so much of the time spent listening to it is in anticipation for these gorgeous orchestrations.

The ambiance and samples are clear downtown compared to the album's more lavish passages, but there's plenty of surprising depth. The much-talked about voice samples could have essays written about them regarding what Godspeed You! Black Emperor might be trying to say with them. From the Arco AM/PM Mini-Mart disclaimer at the end of "Storm" (alerting its customers to be suspicious of potential panhandlers) to Murray Ostril's elegy for a now-deceased Coney Island at the beginning of "Sleep", Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven feels like a melancholic response to the way modern society has robbed life of magic and meaning. This interpretation is made problematic with the inclusion of a fringe Christian preacher during the album's most ambient piece "Static", in which a search for meaning is outlined in religious terms of an almost frightening conviction. I usually find spoken word segments lose their value within a few listens of an album, but in the case of Lift Yr. Skinny Fists, I'm finding myself constantly wondering what the hidden meaning of it all might be, as if it's some kind of subjectively metaphorical Rubik's Cube, begging to lend its secrets to the thoughtful listener. Of course, no explicit explanation can or should ever tarnish the experience of this album; part of the enduring fascination I have with this album is the sense that I'm nurturing an increasingly unique and individual experience of it every time I give it a listen. Hopefully you'll feel or have felt a similar satisfaction listening to it.

Considering how emotional Godspeed You! Black Emperor's particular type of post-rock tends to be, it's fairly surprising (and disappointing) that they seem to keep an emotional distance from their audience throughout the album. The mish-mash of spoken word segments with ambiance and steady crescendos only works if it entreats a subjective response from the listener, but Godspeed performs their music with a certain rigid quality; more akin to an orchestra, it snuffs out any personal imprint in favour of colouring within the lines of the composition. Yet, I don't think staying true to the composition and sincerity are mutually exclusive; Explosions in the Sky's music has always felt purposefully composed, and listening to some of their best work it feels like I could be hearing them in some resonant living room-space. Godspeed You! Black Emperor are much more aloof; very little seems to have been bred out of spontaneity, and even the smallest details appear to be the product of forethought. It's as if they've erected the album as a sort of monolith; the two options given to the listener are to stay away from it, or solemnly appreciate it from arm's length. This is not necessarily a bad thing in of itself, but in the case of Lift Yr. Skinny Fists, I'm a little puzzled that such an academic stance would be taken with such a subjective piece of art.

So much more than the typical post-rock album, Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven is one part gorgeously arranged rock orchestra, one part ambient, and one part field recordings and poignant vocal samples. Beyond the more technical points of its production (which is near-perfect for what it sets out to do) the result is an album that could be interpreted a countless number of ways. Like a lot of great art, the experience and interpretation of the album is determined in large part by the inner workings of the person listening to it- I know that could be said for all of music or art, but especially in the case of Lift Yr. Skinny Fists, equally sound and plausible arguments could be made praising or denouncing it, for the sheer sake that it's left to the listener to draw the conclusions themselves. It's wonderfully subjective for such an oddly impersonal album. It's far from being a favourite of mine in post-rock or otherwise, but I'm damned if there aren't few to equal it in terms of scope and depth.

Review by TCat
5 stars There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that this album and the previous "F#A# (infinity)" album and the E.P. "Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada" are all masterpieces of post rock and anyone that claims to love post rock should be familiar with them. In fact, the Rate Your Music website lists "Slow Riot..." as the best E.P. out of a list of 5000 E.P.s ("Top EPs of all time") that are voted on by members of that site on a monthly basis. It keeps winning that status month after month. But at the same time, I am shocked at how many people that I discuss music with have never heard of this band or of "A Silver Mt. Zion", even people that would be considered music experts, even now that I am living in Canada (since the members of the band are based out of Quebec).

This is an album that has been reviewed many times on PA and is rated quite highly, though I see a lot of varying opinions also. Keep in mind that this band has been very influential in post-rock music and continues to be now with their re-formation. This album is instrumental except for some short spoken word and field recordings that help set the atmosphere for the tracks on this album. To me, this is what a modern day orchestra should sound like. The music is full at times and ambient in others with a wide range of both quick and slow crescendos and decrescendos throughout the long tracks. The music is quite bleak sounding, but done so well that it invokes amazing feelings in the listener, sometimes dark and broody and at other times uplifting and inspiring. It is not easy to listen to if you have not been introduced to post rock because there is a lot of dissonance and odd timbres in the harmonics between the instruments, but that all adds to the uniqueness of the band.

The best way that I have found to listen to this album is to break up the long tracks. In fact, it would be nice if the CD were indexed according to the movements within the individual tracks, but that is only a minor complaint. There is, however, a drawing included with both the CD and the vinyl (inside the gatefold in the vinyl) which shows the structure of the 4 compositions, and it makes the entire album a lot easier to digest and gives each track a lot more personality than it does if you try to listen to the entire album without this structural drawing. It helps to understand and break up the long tracks by following this map. Even without the exact timing listed on all of the movements, it is easy to determine about where each movement ends and begins even though there are no exact breaks between the movements, they flow into one another and at times overlap a bit. But they are mostly distinct and not combined/meshed together as Yes was inclined to do. Even with the distinctness between the tracks, they flow into each other naturally. Following the structural map will increase your understanding of the individual complete compositions and your appreciation to the genius at work in the music will increase as will your love for the music. At least it does for me.

This is also the longest album by the group at over 80 minutes of excellent music. It is not the best music to drive to, at least until you familiarize yourself to it. The music demands your attention and I have found that when I drive my mind wanders a lot, the music in this album might take on a feeling of sameness if you haven't familiarized your self to it. This is music that you need to sit back and listen to and understand the images that are being invoked. The images that come up in your mind however are going to be a lot different from mine, and probably from the images the band had in mind also. It's okay to research what the band wanted you to feel, but I feel it works best if you can relate your own experiences to what you listen to.

Amazing, haunting, inspiring, progressive. Definitely a masterpiece to modern progressive rock music and essential for anyone following post-rock. I love this music and not only rank it as some of the best rock oriented music ever, but also some of the best classically influenced music and hopefully someday, music like this will be seen and respected as classical music. Simply gorgeous and wonderful. 5 extremely bright stars.

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