Posts Tagged ‘Godspeed You! Black Emperor’

Constellation Records – 21st February 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

The moon has possessed a mystical power as long as it has a physical one, the pull of the tides and the regularity of the lunar months forces mankind has never and will never assert control over. The waxing moon, when the moon is growing larger in the sky, is considered by some to be a phase of new beginnings. But new beginnings are equally the reverse aspect of endings: if the moon shows us anything, it’s that everything is cyclical. Time is not linear, and linearity is but a construct that facilitates an accessible narrative.

Rebecca Foon’s Waxing Moon is an album that shimmers and glows an ethereal hue: enigmatic, mysterious, and conjuring a sense of otherness, it’s possessed of a magic that’s difficult to pinpoint.

Rebecca Foon is the composer and musician behind Saltland and Esmerine, as well as having enjoyed a lengthy spell with Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra. She’s best known for her cello work, but it’s her skills as a pianist and singer that are placed to the fore on Waxing Moon. For Waxing Moon, she’s joined by an impressive array of contributors, including Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire) and Mishka Stein (Patrick Watson) on acoustic and electric basses, Sophie Trudeau (Godspeed You Black Emperor) on violin, Jace Lasek (The Besnard Lakes) on electric guitar, and Patrick Watson as co-vocalist on ‘Vessels’.

But understatement is the key here, and the composition very much favour the sparse, low-key and minimal, demonstrating with aplomb the truth of the adage ‘less is more’. Instead of pushing the sound outward, she focuses in and goes deep into the heart of the feelings of each song.

The instrumental ‘New World’ get the album off to an affecting start, and sometimes in a world full of ceaseless noise and endless words babbled without thought, it’s easy to forget just how strongly simple notes played softly can be so richly imbued with emotion that they cam be more moving than any lyrical articulations.

When Foon sings, it’s in breathy, low tones, a sultry croon, as on ‘Pour’, which, with its brooding piano, subtly layered harmonies and haunting guitar, or the ominous, string-led ‘Another Realm’, it calls to mind some of Jarboe’s most evocative work. There’s something vaguely Leonard Cohen that goes beyond vague evocations of ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’ in the deep melancholy splendour of ‘Ocean Song’, while there’s something of a folksy feel to ‘Dreams to be Born.’ It’s semi-sad, entirely captivating.

The instrumentation and mood are focused on low-key, low tempo, for the most part exploring subtle shifts and microcosmic variations, although landing around the middle of the album, ‘Wide Open Eyes’ steps up both tempo and key to venture into folk-infused indie territory driven by an insistent rhythm and repetitive motif to hypnotic effect.

Waxing Moon is subtle, and has a slow pull that’s almost subliminal. It’s this soft-focus partial abstraction that renders the album so powerful: it’s by no means direct, but nevertheless conveys a deep underlying strength.

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cover Rebecca Foon - Waxing Moon

10th May 2019 – Constellation

Christopher Nosnibor

SING SINCK, SING was always going to be a bit of a trip, being the fruits of a collaboration between Efrim Manuel Menuck – founding member of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Thee Silver Mt. Zion – and Kevin Doria from Growing and Total Life.

‘Do the Police Embrace?’ sets the tone: an immense, repetitive, oscillating drone where melody melts into vaporous abstraction and the vocals, not atonal, but keyless and quavering. There’s a heavily sedated, psychedelic feel which is all-pervasive: the album’s five tracks are sprawling patchouli-scented sonic meditations.

‘A Humming Void an Emptied Place’ is the sound of multitonal dronal collapse, and stands comparisons to some of the extended drone-centric workouts that feature on Swans’ Soundracks for the Blind and the releases from their last iteration, only without the build, the crescendo, dare I say the pay-off? The objective is clearly very different: this is an album designed for hypnotic immersion rather than catharsis.

In music criticism, ‘woozy’ is one of those descriptors that has mixed connotations, perhaps more often than not hinting at a vague mixed pleasure a certain level of dizziness can give rise to, the light flip of the stomach after a rollercoaster or a touch of alcohol-induced giddiness. But are SING SINCK, SING (is that an album title or a band name, or both?) feels more like the woozy of carsickness after a long journey on winding, bumpy roads on a hot day. It’s the awkward, slurring slapback reverb on the vocals on ‘We Will’; it’s the droning organ tones that criss-cross in slightly out-of-time waves; it’s the formless expanses which undulate, heave, and sigh.

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Efrim Manuel Menuck (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Thee Silver Mt. Zion) and Kevin Doria (Growing, Total Life) have joined forces on the new LP are SING SINCK, SING, out via Constellation on 10th May. As a first offering, the duo have shared the track ‘We Will’, which layers oscillating waves of melancholy drone with plaintive, reverb-cloaked vocals, before eventually coalescing into a determined and hopeful refrain. You can hear it here:

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As the title suggests, this is also an interstitial album of sorts, an identity-bridge that leads away from Menuck as ‘solo’ artist and towards SING, SINCK SING which will be the new band name for future work by the duo.

Efrim Manuel Menuck & Kevin Doria Live Dates:
09 May – Montréal, QC @ Ritz PDB
10 May – Toronto, ON @ The Burdock
11 May – Hamilton, ON @ Christ Church Cathedral
16 May – Brooklyn, NY @ Murmrr
25 May – Biarritz, FR @ Festival Usopop
27 May – Limoges, FR @ Le Phare
31 May – Zottegem, BE @ Dunk Festival
01 June – Amsterdam, NL @ Best Kept Secret Festival
02 June – Barcelona, ES @ Primavera Festival
03 June – Poznan, PL @ LAS
04 June – Berlin, DE @ Arkaoda
06 June – Brussels, BE @ Botanique Rotonde
07 June – Diksmuiden, BE @ 4AD
09 June – Paris, FR @ Villette Sonique

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The seventh record by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Luciferian Towers, will be released 22nd September 2017 on Constellation. As a taster, they’ve unveiled the album’s opening track, ‘Undoing a Luciferian Towers’, on line.

We’ll spare any extensive preamble or detail about the album here, and shall instead get to the important business: listen to ‘Undoing a Luciferian Towers’ here:

Godspeed