I’m not really into Godspeed You! Black Emperor, although I know it’s post rock classic. In fact I only listened to two of their albums, but I want to share my few thoughts over F♯ A♯ ∞.
I guess that many people give up on trying this band because of their veeery long songs. And how many of us do have time to focus on a song that is over 16 minutes long? This album has only three tracks, but the longest is over 29minutes...
Yet this album is one of the few that make me stop and listen carefully to all long, complicated parts. It begins with a song The Dead Flag Blues and an intro-recitation of a text which pretty much shows a vision of destructive, falling society. Still in this horrible atmosphere there is something beautiful -
the skyline was beautiful on fire
all twisted metal stretching upwards
everything washed in a thin orange haze
I said: "kiss me, you're beautiful -
these are truly the last days"
you grabbed my hand and we fell into it
like a daydream or a fever
I must say I really like this lyric and its background, simple string band, reminding me a lot of my favourite Crippled Black Phoenix songs (I know it’s CBP who could inspire after GY!BE, since F♯ A♯∞ is a record from ’97). Around sixth minute the sound of train brings a change (this part is called Slow Moving Trains), from here our Blues becomes like sci-fi movies ‘pressure’ music. That takes us to 10th minute where we’re introduced to – what I’d call – Hawaiian western (and it’s really called The Cowboy...) The outro is a very nice minimalistic bell-solo.
The second to come – East Hastings – starts with a windy talk and some pipes to develop into The Sad Mafioso – slowly growing song with beautiful Knopfler-like guitars and again strings – I confess that rising melody&pace (10-12min) with low cello “sawing” sound is absolutely eargasmic to me! When it calms down in a part Drugs in Tokyo, I seriously need resuscitation – it simply makes me think “hm, so drugs in Tokyo makes you feel like space western? cool, let’s try it!” And the finishing Black Helicopter – hey, stop fooling us with the names GY!BE, it’s a bee or fly, but I still want to play with it!
Providence gives us a surprise – a part of the interview-song of Iron Maiden – Virus. The second part – Dead Metheny is a nice, calm instrumental with lovely cello and bells parts. Kicking Horse on Brokenhill starts with distorted vocals but develops into epic – indeed feeling like riding – instrumental. The conclusion of it is String Loop Manufactured During Downpour... with psychedelic whispering „where are you going” and spacey wandering broken by 3 minutes of silence. The hidden outro is a nice balance of growing drums and simple, out tuned – I guess – guitars.
The number and variety of motives on F♯ A♯ ∞ could easily occupate a writer who would analyse them, not to mention the rows of musicians getting inspired. I don’t feel strong enough to go through all the details, so I only gave you a major impression of this stunning album.
Recommended for long, lazy evenings. To be listened on the headphones while letting yourself float away into apocalyptic dreamland.