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GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR

Post Rock/Math rock • Canada


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Godspeed You! Black Emperor biography
GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR! is an experimental nine-piece from Montreal, Canada that specializes in semi-avant-garde instrumental music of haunting beauty. They've released five discs of music, with a grand total of eleven pieces of music, so you know they can write some extended ideas. Formed in 1995, GYBE! consists of Roger Tellier-Craig (guitar), Norsola Johnson (cello), Efrim Menuck (guitar), Mauro Pezzente (bass), David Bryant (guitar), Thierry Amar (bass), Sophie Trudeau (violin), Aidan Girt (percussion), and Bruce Cawdron (percussion). GYBE!'s music should probably be described as long, dark, moody, and brilliant. Their sound was once compared to TANGERINE DREAM, except that GYBE! uses no keyboards. They paint a similar sonic texture to TANGERINE DREAM, but they do it using cello, violin, upright bass, and three guitars, rather than synths. In fact, GYBE! is very organic, often bringing in spoken word samples, as well as glockenspiel.

GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR!'s best album is arguably the double-disc "Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven". It consists of four 20 minutes pieces. "Yanqui U.X.O." is also an excellent album, having two 20 minute tracks and a 30 minute track. GYBE!'s other albums are "f#a#infinity" and "Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada."

GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR! is highly recommended for prog fans as Kraut Rock, epic-length experimental, or anyone looking for something a little different to sink their ears into.

BrainRock Ben, USA



See also:
- A Silver Mt. Zion
- Fly Pan Am
- Set Fire To Flames
- Valley Of The Giants
- Exhaust
- HṚṢṬA

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Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven [Vinyl]Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven [Vinyl]
Constellation 2010
Vinyl$19.99
$30.19 (used)
Luciferian TowersLuciferian Towers
Constellation 2017
Audio CD$10.65
$10.46 (used)
'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
CONSTELLATION 2012
Vinyl$18.26
$27.29 (used)
Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress (180 Gram Vinyl)Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress (180 Gram Vinyl)
Constellation 2015
Vinyl$15.99
$31.88 (used)
Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Luciferian Towers (180g) Vinyl LPGodspeed You! Black Emperor: Luciferian Towers (180g) Vinyl LP
Constellation
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Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven Vinyl 2LPGodspeed You! Black Emperor: Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven Vinyl 2LP
Original recording · Double LP
Constellation
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Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada [Vinyl]Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada [Vinyl]
Constellation 2010
Vinyl$12.90
$14.99 (used)
Godspeed You! Black Emperor: F_A_° (1995-1997) Vinyl LPGodspeed You! Black Emperor: F_A_° (1995-1997) Vinyl LP
Constellation
Vinyl$23.95
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GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.07 | 375 ratings
F# A# ∞
1997
4.13 | 501 ratings
Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven
2000
3.97 | 287 ratings
Yanqui U.X.O.
2002
3.67 | 142 ratings
Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
2012
3.74 | 90 ratings
Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress
2015
4.04 | 62 ratings
Luciferian Towers
2017

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.40 | 5 ratings
All Lights Fucked On The Hairy Amp Drooling
1994
3.20 | 5 ratings
Split (ft. Amazezine)
1998
4.41 | 180 ratings
Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada E.P.
1999
3.33 | 3 ratings
Tiny Silver Hammers
2004

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.74 | 90 ratings

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Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars By the time the second decade of the 21st century had begun, hardcore fans of GODSPEED! YOU BLACK EMPEROR probably were under the impression that the band had released their best output and moved on to the myriad other projects they had been creating and when the band finally emerged with "Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! ten years after "Yanqui U.X.O," fans may have been tempted to believe the band was finally getting a second wind and finding new inspiration however in reality that album was really just reworked from unreleased material that was churned out during the prolific era around the turn of the millennium. It wasn't until three years later in 2015 with the release of their fifth album ASUNDER, SWEET AND OTHER DISTRESS that GYBE! came up with a newly created album of original material. True that the members had been busy with their offshoot solo projects ranging from Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, Fly Pan Am and Esmerine just to name a few so it's not like the creative forces disappeared into the ethers but rather were dissipated by outside influences. It's always great for a totally unique sounding band like GYBE! to reunite and pick up where they left off and that's exactly what they do on ASUNDER, SWEET AND OTHER DISTRESS.

Like previous albums, GYBE! continues the post-rock compositional style of creating long sprawling tracks (in this case four) that slowly unfurl out in patience testing doses and ultimately connect to create a single long album listening experience. ASUNDER also happens to be the shortest album the band had recorded to date as well and clocked in at a more normal time limit of just over forty minutes which IMHO suits the band quite well as the music is just as apocalyptic and intense as ever. "Peasantry or 'Light! Inside of Light!'" starts things off and has a distinct heavy guitar riff which distinguishes it from the more chamber rock drone type compositions of the past, but have no fear. It is simply one instrument amongst many to add an extra melodic element to the sprawling musical ant march across the great divide. The opening track begins with a heavy looped guitar riff but becomes incrementally softer and diminishes its heft as it slowly dissolves into the droning middle tracks "Lambs' Breath" and "Asunder, Sweet" which for all intents and purposes conspire to give the feel of a single behemoth track before the heavier rock sound make a reprise on the closing "Piss Crowns Are Trebled."

While it's true that at this stage there is no more wow factor with this type of apocalyptic post-rock soundtrack music as it is a good twenty years old at this point, it never fails to amaze me how good this type of music can be and despite the minimalism and test of endurance as the sounds slowly ratchet one way or another like a complex carbon-based molecule chain, GYBE! show why they are the masters of emotional manipulation as if they connected our consciousness to a transistor knob where they can simply tweak our reactions with the slightest bends of notes or the infinitely long suspension of others. As with all their music, there is a huge debt owed to the minimalism of musique concrète, impressinalism and progressive electronica from the past, but GYBE! manage to take the best features of those disparate genres and take them to a sort of post-apocalyptic world where a world like Blade Runner churns on after the utter collapse of reality as we know it.

Absolutely no one sounds like GYBE! including all the splinter bands that have emerged in their absence, so this is a style of sophisticated post-rock that i personally can't get enough of. While ASUNDER, SWEET AND OTHER DISTRESS hasn't seemed to have gotten the love that its predecessors have, there is no reason that it shouldn't as it delivers all the GYBE! goods in a fully mature fashion that adds enough twists and turns to ensure that they are not simply dog paddling in the same musical arenas time and time again. This album is excellent and an intense and satisfying return of one of the masters of horrific grandiosity and a sign that the band is still alive and kicking despite the incessant flow of its member's outside projects.

 Luciferian Towers by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.04 | 62 ratings

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Luciferian Towers
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by thesameoldfears

5 stars This is the album I'd been waiting for. A little backstory, shortly after the release of the last album Asunder, Sweet I saw on Youtube that they had been playing an even newer long song that really blew me away. Then I saw the band play it live in 205 and said to drummer Timothy Herzog after the show "that new song is an instant classic." That song turned out to be titled Anthem For No State, and it was worth the wait to finally hear it released.

Godspeed! didn't pull any punches with this one. There are two shorter "drone" songs, but they each keep building up rather than staying constant, so you definitely don't get bored. The long songs are really what stand out though. Bosses Hang is a great example of what you can do with just a single melody developed effectively. As the song builds, you get a series of interlocking guitars playing off each other, but the main melody comes back at the peak. Definitely feels triumphant.

Anthem For No State is one of my favorite songs right now. The intro with violin and soft guitar is one of the most beautiful passages this band has done. But as to be expected, the song builds over 14 minutes into a giant bang of a conclusion. The last 3 minutes are an absolute triumph, right up there with King Crimson's Starless as most epic ways to close an album. Very loud playing, but also great emotion and melody.

 Luciferian Towers by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.04 | 62 ratings

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Luciferian Towers
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

4 stars Though intellectually I feel that I should like everything that GY!BE does, I do not. I know I should be impressed with the musicianship, with the technical and theoretical mastery on display in their compositions, I am not. When I listen to GY!BE I feel as if everything is a slowly shifting muddle of sonic mud. It seems as if every wave in the sonic spectrum, 20 to 20,000 is full, that the band leaves no space left for anchoring contrast. And for those of you who know me and my musical tastes, I like space. It has only taken me ten years, with this release, to discover why it is such a struggle for me to listen to and review GY!BE music. I am sorry that more simplistic, less accomplished compositions rate higher on my lists of enjoyable Post Rock, but that's the way it's going to have to be. I am just not wired to like this music. The more I read, the more I feel guilty for this for obviously these guys know what they're doing and work hard to accomplish their lofty goals.

1. "Undoing a Luciferian Towers" (7:47) opens with a pulsing, vibrating weave that reminds me of a more sophisticated version of a SWANS song ("The Seer Returns"). With additional instruments (winds) joining in and adding to the mix, and a few key/chord shifts, the sound becomes cacophonous and almost overwhelming to me while maintaining that SWANS-like feel to the end. (8/10) 2. "Bosses Hanging (Pt. I, II, & III)" (14:42) strummed bass, tremoloed other stringed notes, precede the melody-presenting distorted electric guitar--until the 2:09 mark when drums and other instruments join (viola/violin) to present us with a kind of military funeral march. Kind of cool! At 3:13 more electrified stringed instruments (mostly guitars) join in in the higher registers, bringing a kind of plaintive urgency to the music. But this is only temporary, as at 4:22 everything drops away leaving a single guitar to play its two note arpeggio ad infinitum while a fast tremolo violin note accompanies. Gradually a plethora of other stringed instruments join in--all bringing with them their own two-note arpeggio to form quite an interesting TERRY RILEY-minimalist weave. When drums rejoin mid-seventh minute, the pace and complexity of the weave begins to build to a minor frenzy--kind of like the end violin solo in THE WHO's "Baba O'Riley." Halfway through the bass returns to strumming as the near-military drumming returns. Then the music stagnates and shifts, stagnates and shifts, several times over the next two minutes--including a couple of key/chord changes. At 11:25 the speed of these shifts quickens and a new upper register violin melody is added giving the song a little feeling of hopefulness. It's all here: death and destruction, chaos and confusion, as well as hope and optimism--this latter expressed beautifully (intentionally?) with the ending melody from (or a variation on) THE BEATLES' song "With a Little Help From My Friends." This song makes me appreciate GY!BE's genius. (9/10)

3. "FamFamine" (6:44) opens with some loosely conjoined one-and two-note droning from a variety of stringed instruments. Gradually the weave tightens and forms into a kind of FRIPP-ENO edgy-ambient thing. Interestingly, I would have liked this one had a JOHN LENNON/BEATLES sound and melody not appeared and moved to center in the fifth and sixth minutes (the same melody from the opening of the album's opening song). (8.5/10)

4. "Anthem for No State (Pt. I, II, & III)" (14:41) opens in a quiet simplistic way that I should like, but the use of the pedal steel (or "infinite guitar," saw, dobro, or whatever that whining, droning, incessantly sustaining sound is caused by) is not to my liking. Also the heavily fuzzed guitar doing most of the lead work is just to fuzzy for my tastes. The Country Western simplicity is maintained for six full minutes before bagpipes and distorted guitar strumming take over and turn the song into a SWANS-like emotional release. (Who came first, SWANS or GY!BE?) With four minutes left the song finally achieves full development. Nice drumming behind the weave of electrified stringed instruments. At 12:30 the song finally reveals a melody worth noting, worth remembering--which plays out with the song's finish. (8/10)

 Luciferian Towers by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.04 | 62 ratings

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Luciferian Towers
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by villageglobal

5 stars After many listens, this is an amazing album. They project the word Hope in their live performances, and this is what this album sounds like. The 6 minutes or so drone pieces are huge walls of sounds, but less electronic than the ones on Asunder or Allelujah.

The violin takes a lot of place and builds beautiful melodies. The longer 14 minutes pieces are great too and are pretty catchy, I often find myself humming the melodies sometimes. Bosses hang gets a bit repetitive after a while, but not enough to make the song boring.

It's always a pleasure to discover new Godspeed material, this isn't my favorite album but it feels fresh and hopeful.

 Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.74 | 90 ratings

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Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by thesameoldfears

4 stars As others have pointed out, this album starts and ends with a bang, and the two middle tracks are more experimental/drone without any established melodies.

For the longest time I didn't know how to rate this album, but four stars out of five seems about right. The first time I heard this album was when I saw Godspeed! live in late 2013. They had been playing this piece in its entirety on tour before actually releasing it in 2015. When I heard it live I remember I thinking the middle section dragged on a bit, but the end was so startling and powerful that it made it worth the buildup.

Conceptually this album is very interesting because it's basically the whole thing is one big decrescendo, followed by one big crescendo. In Peasantry or 'Light! Inside of Light! you have all 8 musicians all playing very loud, dense, and fairly melodic music, but then as it goes into Lambs' Breath it slowly sheds each of these qualities and unravels to the point where it's just a single tone ringing for about 2 minutes. This single tone connects Lambs' Breath to Asunder, Sweet. The process then reverses itself as the single tone is joined by other strange sounds in Asunder, Sweet, which keeps building and building. By the time you get to Piss Crowns are Trebled the sound is extremely intense, exploding into a bang of a conclusion.

Piss Crowns Are Trebled is one of my favorite Godspeed! tracks. The dense instrumentation and loud angsty energy really pushes the listener to the max, but at also feels kind of uplifting despite its heaviness. The thrilling closing of Piss Crowns Are Trebled packs more of a punch when you've heard the meandering of Lambs' Breath and Asunder, Sweet before it, though many listeners will want to skip over these middle tracks. Interestingly, when I saw Godspeed! live a second time, when they played this album the two middle tracks were significantly shorter than on the studio album. That may have been a good choice as far as the audience's patience goes. Hard to say. Either way, what we have here is a very interesting artistic statement. It's a little too uneven to be a five star album, but the finale Piss Crowns Are Trebled is a prog epic for the ages.

 Luciferian Towers by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.04 | 62 ratings

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Luciferian Towers
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars The latest Godspeed You Black Emperor! album continues the trend of "Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress" to go for a terse single LP length for Godspeed album releases, with four songs ranging from about 6 to 14 minutes. Whereas Asunder, Sweet consisted of two conventional Godspeed compositions as bookends and improvised jams in the middle, here the psychedelic and garage rock primal DNA is integrated more into the compositions themselves, yielding an album which combines the stateliness and emotional power of classic Godspeed with the raw energy that A Silver Mt. Zion consistently captures and which the improvisational tracks on Asunder, Sweet tap into.

There's also more of an air of hopefulness on Luciferian Towers than in previous Godspeed works. Whilst recent releases had backed away a little from the unrelenting pessimism of their earliest work, here the album ends on a positively triumphant note. It's a strong return to form after the experimentation of Asunder, Sweet and proves that there's still gas in the Black Emperor's tank.

 Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.74 | 90 ratings

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Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress is a Godspeed album which might trip up even long-time listeners of the band; the opening and closing tracks are masterful post-rock compositions of the standard we have come to expect from the Canadian unit, but the middle two tracks get a certain amount of flak, being as they are wild improvisational jams.

The trick to remember is that this is how the Godspeed live experience works - it's a side to their sound which they haven't gone out of their way to include on their studio albums before, but I think it works as a wild interlude between the two major pieces. The improvisations in question aren't brilliant as standalone pieces, mind - but then again, Godspeed have always put together albums which go best as integral listening experiences in their own right, rather than bits to shuffle into a playlist at random.

 Luciferian Towers by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.04 | 62 ratings

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Luciferian Towers
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by loulou24

5 stars I know a lot of people will hate this album. Many will claim that there's no element to the godspeed sound and other will say that they're old, too happy and can't make a great album like lift your skinny fist anymore. LT is no way like lift your skinny fist or F#A# but it 's even so one of the best albums of the year.

It is the first new compositions of the band since 2003 (alleluiah and assunder includes old works before the split up). More happier and shorter stuff is happening and it's great. There is call back themes (bosses hang, fam famine) which never happens in any GY!BE albums. A Morricone-like feel (Anthem for no state) and a happy ending.

I am enjoying to hear futur release from this awesome band that is really progressive.

 Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada E.P. by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1999
4.41 | 180 ratings

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Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada E.P.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Walkscore

4 stars Recorded in between F#A# and Lift Yer Skinny Fists like Antennas to Heaven...(LYSFLATH), this half-hour EP sounds just like one might expect it to sound, given those two albums. Here we have two extended pieces that start very quiet with beautiful guitar melodies and violin harmonies that build slowly to a climax and back, overlaid with street noises, and broken into multiple sections that maintain listener interest. There is a street poet that must have been recorded in Rhode Island that features both here and on LYSFLATH, to generally good effect. The first track "Moya" is the standout, and has featured for years as part of their live set (must be named after Mike Moya, one of the composers). But the second track, often shortened to BBF, is also excellent, and very close in quality to Moya. More refined and efficient than F#A#, Slow Riot is an obvious must-have for any GYBE fan. It is similar in style, although not perhaps quite as musical, as their masterpiece (LYSFLATH). I give this album 8.5 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 PA stars.
 Yanqui U.X.O. by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.97 | 287 ratings

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Yanqui U.X.O.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Walkscore

4 stars The Second-Best GYBE Album.

This double album (shortened to 77 minutes for the CD) is a huge musical accomplishment. It contains some of GYBE's most original and innovative music, in their whole catalogue. However, it is largely missing the street noises and voice-overs that characterized the first three albums (I include Zero Riot in those). This is both a curse, in that those additional tapes added a welcome emotional and political layer to their sound, and a blessing in that one can now thus really focus on the music itself. Some reviewers don't seem to like this album as much as some of the others. I think this is because of two things: a) the missing street noises and tapes, which we all had come to love, and b) the first song here, titled 09-15-00 (broken into two parts), which is quite slow and lasts 20 minutes. I can easily see someone wanting to zip through this album to provide a review, and getting bogged down in that first song, and perhaps not fully listening to the rest of the tracks. If so, this would be a shame, because the third track, Rockets Fall on Rocket Falls, and the fourth and fifth tracks (part I and II of M-F-Redeemer) are so highly original, different, and musical. There is nothing quite like them, either recorded by GYBE or any other band - they stand as testaments to the bands' significant musicality and creativity. Only a couple of pieces on LYSF match them in quality. The first song (09-15-00) is musical too, but involves the slowest and weakest tracks on the album, though I still quite like them. But one can't listen to this album just once and make up an opinion. It needs a number of full open-minded listens. For anyone who is interested in this band, I highly recommend this album. I give it 8.8 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which places it as (high) 4 PA stars. Close to 5 Stars.

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