“The building chokes, folding inwards. There’s a pit inside where the beating heart of the sun expands. Dust traces its contours like a radiograph.”
That poem is how Canadian post-rock legend Godspeed You! Black Emperor introduces you to its sixth studio album, “Luciferian Towers.”
“Luciferian Towers” throws you down an elevator shaft to hell then vomits you back up to the surface to see the corruption that spread while you were gone. The funny thing is, Godspeed makes hell look kind of beautiful and that’s nothing new.
The zombie-horror film, “28 Days Later,” exposed me to Godspeed. The film starts with a man who wakes up from a coma in a London hospital. The hospital is empty. London is empty. As the man crosses the Westminster Bridge a slow dark guitar riff came forth and raised the hair on my chest.
The song, “East Hastings,” off of their first LP F#A#∞ captured the gloom, loneliness, panic and beauty of total doomsday.
Godspeed has pretty pessimism in all of its records. They are strictly anti-government and believe that music should be about things that are not okay with the world.
However, some of their albums hide that message pretty well because Godspeed’s albums are mostly without vocals. In past albums there have only been short audio clips that describe that sentiment. The songs “Blaise Bailey Finnegan III” and “The Dead Flag Blues” explain that sentiment the best.
The album’s press release puts the album into Godspeed’s trademark anti-government and anti-capital context by describing burnt out buildings stripped of wire, labor struggles and the bosses who leave the poor and hardworking to die in the filth they created while they revel in wealth created by smallfolk toil and a dead “Kanada” alongside a dying ocean.
That’s a cool idea and all, but nothing close to what I imagined the first time I listened to the new album. Strings stroked with muttering intensity took me down a burnt out shaft to the center of the Earth.
More strings, trumpets, feedback loops, flutes and saxophones swelled into a great cacophony as the pressure and heat of the Earth and the corruption that its depths held wrapped around me.
Just when I thought I was about to be overwhelmed by a massive wall of sound a warbling, triumphant chorus of strings rode out from the wall and hit me right in the face. I reached the center of the Earth. I reached hell and it was beautiful.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor continues to produce some of the most stunning music I’ve ever heard. They’re a must listen for anyone who wants to have a little emotional and visual breathing room in music.
My fantasy may not be what Godspeed had in mind when they conceived “Luciferian Towers,” but hey, that’s just me, sometimes that’s just the ride Godspeed will take you on.
Alex Fleming can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org