Godspeed You Black Emperor!: Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven

Godspeed You Black Emperor!: Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Album: Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven
Label: Kranky

The large Montreal collective Godspeed You Black Emperor! does an awful lot to appear indigestible, from its album titles to the sprawling length of its songs, and the four-song, 87-minute Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven is no exception. But, despite the off-putting tendencies at its surface, it further demonstrates the band's flair for dynamic, expertly paced, emotionally resonant soundscapes. Few instrumental acts can claim to create such a palpable mood of unsettlement, but Godspeed's warm, dynamic sound does, eschewing machines in favor of strings, guitars, pianos, static, and the periodic use of field recordings. The group knows how to derive mileage out of a sampled monologue: "Storm" closes with the repetition of a chilly recorded voice outside a convenience store, while "Sleep" opens with the words of Murray Ostril, who reminisces about the golden age of Coney Island. ("They don't sleep anymore on the beach," he laments.) The sermon that fills an interlude in "Static"—which explodes into one of the album's few outright cataclysms around its 16-minute mark—is a bit more predictable but, backed by weeping strings, becomes chillingly effective. Though a lot to take in one sitting, ebbing and flowing through many variations on seething dread, Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven is as beautiful and disarming as its predecessors. Godspeed's 1999 knockout Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada EP is a more manageable dose for beginners, but music this audacious and ambitious needs to be heard regardless of the challenges it presents.

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