Godspeed You Black Emperor! -
Lift yr. skinny fists like antennas to heaven! - 2000


This is the fabulous and wonderful second LP of this revolutionary group from Montreal, Canada, that has attracted favorable reviews by media of all type of music styles and of all the geographical areas of the world.

Godspeed You Black Emperor! (GYBE from now on) were born in 1994, joining a variable number of musicians, between 8 and 12, born of the hard-core scene of their city. They decided to start the adventure of experimentation in a given moment, developing long instrumental, almost orchestral, pieces, that move in a burst from peace and the most absolute stillness, through silence, to the most damaging laceration and craziness, introducing all kind of sounds and instruments in their musical proposal. Epic intensity, in this way we could defined the sound of GYBE. Some musical references that I can try to extract from their albums are musicians like Pink Floyd, Joy División, Gorecki, King Crimson, Sonic Youth, Can, Eno, Tangerine Dream, Steve Reich, Labradford, Dirty Three… do you make yourselves an idea?

They published a first cassette currently impossible to find. In 1997/8 they released their first album, in the interesting record label Kranky, the untranslatable "F#a #&" that in three pieces in fifty minutes (highlighting the first one "dead flag blues") deciphered the whole essence of their influences in an innovative sound, original and progressive. One of the features of this album, repeated in all their records, is the introduction of all kind of vocal discourses made by whispering and dark voices, sad and sunken human beings that drive the sound to a western sci-fi movie soundscore a la Morricone, full with pain and anguish. Another key aspect is the opacity and mysterious lack of information on the group and the strange situations design of the album.

Later on, in 1999, GYBE released a EP "Slow riot for a new zero kanada" including two songs that continue the particular search of instrumental developments full with power, beauty and feeling. Then at the end of the summer of 2000, they published this last masterpiece, "lift yr. skinny fists like antennas to heaven" that we will review now.


The group, conceived more as a musical community, has not a fixed lineup, although it is at the present time formed by nine members: Sophie, Norsola, David, Thierry, Aidan, Mauro, Bruce, Roger and Efrim that play guitars, bass, violin, cello, percussion, samplers, loops. They maintain furiously communal and anarchist aesthetics and ideology, escaping from the traditional punk and hardcore musical form of this kind of groups in search of new and fascinating musical proposals.

With an exquisite presentation, a simple but beautiful cover of some sliced hands emitting sound waves, this double CD in 90 minutes threshes, in a maybe softer and suave style than in the past the essence of GYBE. We start with a first more classic CD already following the patterns seen in the two previous releases of the group, and ending up in the second CD that shows us a possible future, near to repetitive ambient electronics than to rock.

In theory the album includes four long pieces, "Storm", "Static", "Sleep", "Antennas" (all of them around 20 minutes length, that in turn are divided into multitude of sound fragments -explained in the booklet-, separated by silence, interludes of violins, all kind of noises, voices and calls in the sound backdrop).

In this album, the group has been able to reinvent their particular musical style, introducing a bigger density to its compositions, looking for more experimentation and concretion. The result is more organic and concrete, maybe it requires more attention than the first album to understand all its nuances, but certainly, I can only reaffirm that this is an original, innovative and new proposal, and overall, really in search of progression.

We find worth highlighting during all the album the wonderful violin passages (one expects with desire the following attack of the strings that we know will arrive in brief moments) in a contemporary classic key (Gorecki), the conjunction of the rhythm section that always knows when to get into and out of this magma of sound magma, and finally some excellent guitars that really dazzle and enlighten us.


Whose of our kind readers and lovers of progressive rock will love this album? I would recommend it hotly to those fans of instrumental krautrock, Brian Eno and Tangerine Dream’s sound landscapes, the first Pink Floyd, or even the sound density of Anglagard or the RIO groups. Anyway, another interesting musical proposition that you should not ignore in the next visit to your favorite record store.

author - date - rating - label

José Nafría - January 2001 -   - Kranky