It's difficult to even know where to begin with a band this gargantuan. They're momentous in their respective genre, and very well known and loved across the musical spectrum for their orchestrated apocalypse, reaching new heights in post-rock and drone music. Of course we're talking about Godspeed You! Black Emperor, one of the most essential and breath-taking bands ever to exist. I'm not going to go into much detail about their history (since it's fairly well-known and documented), but they're (currently) a 10-piece post-rock band that originated in Montreal, Quebec (Canada) in 1994. They began as a small outfit (3 musicians and 1 film projectionist, the visual component has always been massively important to them). They released the limited hallowed cassette All Lights Fucked On The Hairy Amp Drooling, which was limited to 33 copies and has never been unearthed since its release. To this day, there are no copies online. Allegedly it sounds very different from the band we know today (they utilized vocals), and as their line-up expanded, so did their sound.
By 1997, they had rounded out a large line-up of musicians and instrumental variety, as they crafted these massive pieces marked by movements, crescendos and desolate atmosphere. This resulted in F# A# ∞, the band's debut record. Initially released on vinyl, it was re-recorded and re-arranged for a CD release the following year. Their next major output was a two-track EP, which is just as essential as any of their full-lengths. "Moya" in particular is an incredible piece on that EP. Y2K rolls around, and the world implodes at the release of their magnum opus, Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven. This is one of my favourite albums ever, one of the best and most highly regarded post-rock albums ever released, and all in all an incredible listening experience. It ranges from drone passages to gorgeous heaven-reaching crescendos, with incredibly layered instrumentation and seamless movements. It's been discussed to death, just listen to this masterpiece if you have not already. Following Lift Your Skinny Fists... they released Yanqui U.X.O., which was a much more raucous affair than its predecessor. It unfortunately didn't live up to the group's first few standout projects, but it's still a very solid album and well worth the listen. In 2003 they disbanded, though many of its members were active in other projects such as Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and Fly Pan Am.
The GY!BE spark was reignited in 2010, as they started to play shows again. In 2012 they came out with a new record, which consisted of material recorded both before they broke up and after they reunited. Their sound alternates between the massive ebb-and-flow movements of their early records and these new, droning interludes, providing something familiar and something new. It's a phenomenal record, and an absolute staple in their catalogue. They've since released two new albums in this decade, both of which are very solid outings, but again don't quite hit the same highs as their best albums. Having said that, even relatively "decent" GY!BE is still absolutely outstanding in the canon of post-rock. There's really not much more that needs to be said, this band and their music are super well-known and often discussed. The only thing I would like to add is if you get a chance, pick up physical copies of their material. The visual components of each album are integral to the full vision of these projects, and the artwork is always amazing. Thanks for another good year, and enjoy.
1. Nervous, Sad, Poor...
2. Bleak, Uncertain, Beautiful...
1. The Dead Flag Blues
2. East Hastings
1. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Sunshine + Gasoline
2. Fly Pan Am - L'espace Au Sol Est Redessiné Par D'immenses Panneaux Bleus
1. Hung Over As The Queen In Maida Vale
4. Like Antennas To Heaven...
2. 09-15-00 (cont.)
3. rockets falls on Rocket Falls
5. motherfucker=redeemer (cont.)
2. Their Helicopters' Sing
3. We Drift Like Worried Fire
4. Strung Like Lights At Thee Printemps Erable
1. Peasantry or 'Light! Inside Of Light!'
2. Lambs' Breath
3. Asunder, Sweet
4. Piss Crowns Are Trebled
1. Undoing A Luciferian Towers
2. Bosses Hang
3. Fam / Famine
4. Anthem For No State
1. A Military Alphabet (five eyes all blind) / Job's Lament / First of the Last Glaciers / where we break how we shine (ROCKETS FOR MARY)
2. Fire at Static Valley
3. "GOVERNMENT CAME" / Cliffs Gaze / cliffs' gaze at empty waters' rise / ASHES TO SEA or NEARER TO THEE
4. OUR SIDE HAS TO WIN (for D.H.)