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Every so often you discover something that leaves you reaching for superlatives - and a growing frustration with the inadequancies of the English language. "Lift Your Skinny Fists...", GYBE's much-anticipated follow-up to the "Slow Riot..." EP, in many ways epitomises this sentiment.
A multi-layered yet sparce offering, "Lift..." offers a number of contraditions over the course of its 4 tracks - spread over a double-album. Covering a myriad of human emotions - at times uplifting and at the same time sad - the album is a fantastic unique achievement from the "post-rock" Montreal nine-piece.
With rich orchestation, drawing on strings, piano, guitars and intertwined with sampled voice segments, "Lift..." is unlike anything else you're likely to hear. In each of the four movements, the way in which the music gently builds from quiet, understated arrangements before exploding into full-blown
crescendos, will leave you shaking - and wondering how on earth you're listening to the same track.
The highlight of the album is the 23-minute track "Sleep". Starting with a bittersweet narrative from an elderly man reminising his time as a boy on Coney Island, "Sleep" begins its epic journey. Gently building from melancholy strings, the track slowly layers instrument upon instrument, sound upon sound, before errupting loudly into a rich, dense soundscape that seems to signal the end of the world.
Covering a breadth of styles, emotions and dynamics, "Lift..." is an incredible album. Anyone interested in discovering "post-rock" or indeed something quite unlike anything else, would be well advised start their investigation with this masterpiece from GYBE
The post-rock genre is thrown about and abused from all sides. People say the tracks are too long, that's it's pretentious junk, that it's weak music or just that it sucks. Well, post-rock takes a good deal of listening and a lack of pre-judgment in order to really "get it". Godspeed are an excellent example of a band deep in the post-rock genre. They produce a combination of loud, uplifting, awe-inspiring classically influenced tracks and slow, meandering journeys through sound. Lift Your Skinny Fists is a magic set of tracks that sounds like it is moving in an out of the eye of a hurricane. For comparative purposes, I guess you could say they sound like Sigur Ros without the vocals and a not-pushed-for-time extended-play Mogwai. They do have their own sound and it is very distinctive. At 85 minutes playing time it will take a little patience. This is a 2 disc album and it comes in a pretty cardboard packaging. It is also available on vinyl which would be my preferred choice. I play it every couple of months and it has retained
The first track builds slowly with a rhythmic marching drum played behind a wonderful simple guitar riff that evokes feelings of floating high about a chain of mountains. Godspeed have an ability to give you the sense that their songs keep building minute after minute after minute with very minor changes in the music keeping your musical spirits aligned. Ten minutes in a Godspeed-only high pitched four-note guitar riff is launched. Violins battle. This is the kind of music that can bring all your thoughts to a halt. Storm is eerie, delicate and emotional and takes you on a journey far from your home. My cat loves this track!
2) The second movement begins with more eerie music, but with less force. At a quarter time, a man begins to relate his experience of God in a rather persuasive manner over the sound of a soaring violin. The man has evangelical energy and it is rather captivating, whatever your belief. The core point here is the sheer energy of communication. Then it quietens down further and we hear sounds that remind you of a dramatic film score. A cello and violin play together and tell you things you don't know.
3) The third movement, "Sleep", is where me and this album really hit it off. It begins with an older gentleman from Coney Island in New York who is telling his story of this demise of the area. He used to "sleep on the beach overnight...they don't do it anymore, things change...see...they don't sleep anymore on the beach". The guy is sad, reminiscent and the sounds that follow are equally as so. Godspeed really outdo themselves here as the music builds to a sublime climax over the next few minutes.
4) The final track, "Antenna's to Heaven" is more of the same, but it has a sense of finality that puts you at ease. It's ambient heavy metal.
Possibly the finest moment for this band the double album is split into 4 tracks however it is easier to think of them structured similarly to symphonies.
This opening number is a slow majestic song which builds up to a climactic cresendo using repeated motifs. Truly beautiful and is very uplifting overall.
Probably my least favourite track overall on this album. Is pretty standard gsy!be fayre. This moody track starts with sounds of passing trucks before morphing into a sorrowful guitar line backed with a recording of a preacher and then into another more animated section.
The best thing this band has ever produced, bar none. Begins with a sample of an old man before flowing into one of the most beautiful guitar lines i've ever heard. The ending of this track is absolutely sublime.
4. Antenna to Heaven
Based around a sample of an old blues song, this track again is pretty throw away. Good but after the brilliance of the last track this pales in comparison.
This album is essential for anyone interested in the post rock genre.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven/Gathering Storm/Il Pleut A Mourir/Clatters Like Worry/W
2 Terrible Canyons Of Static/Atomic Clock/Chart #3/World Police And Friendly Fire/Buildings They Are S
Disc #2 Tracklisting
1 Murray Ostril: They Don't Sleep Anymore On The Beach/Mo nheim/Broken Windows Locks Of Love Part III
2 Moya Sing 'Baby O'/Edgy Swingset Acid/Glockenspiel Duet Recorded On A Campsite In Rhinebec