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f#a# (infinity symbol)
Godspeed You Black Emperor
f#a# (infinity symbol)
Genres: Alternative Rock, Special Interest, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (3) - Disc #1

Debut album from this stellar group. Not available for Japan/UK/Europe


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CD Details

All Artists: Godspeed You Black Emperor
Title: f#a# (infinity symbol)
Members Wishing: 8
Total Copies: 0
Label: Kranky
Original Release Date: 6/9/1998
Re-Release Date: 1/8/2007
Genres: Alternative Rock, Special Interest, Pop, Rock
Styles: Indie & Lo-Fi, Experimental Music, Progressive, Progressive Rock
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 796441802722


Product Description
Debut album from this stellar group. Not available for Japan/UK/Europe

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CD Reviews

Soundtrack for the end of the world?
Lord Chimp | Monkey World | 12/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

""The car's on fire and there's no driver at the wheel, and the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides, and a dark wind blows. The government is corrupt, and we're on so many drugs, with the radio on and the curtains drawn. We're trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death. The sun has fallen down, and the billboards are all leering, and the flags are all dead at the top of their polls." With this harrowing, deep-voiced monologue begins _f#a#00_ (I can't make the infinity symbol so I'm improvising), a cinematic masterpiece lacking pictures but telling a lucid tale. Long, dusty, lonely elegies of smotheringly morose music illustrate a world on the brink of apocalypse. This is Godspeed You Black Emperor!'s first readily available album (forget trying to find their debut...only 33 copies were ever made ::sigh::), and to many it was their first experience to this band's stunning power. Calm but eerie silences can be extremely disarming as crescendos and loud dynamics can creep up unexpectedly, then retreat with equal abruptness. The band has seemingly concretized into a nonet, but here I'm not sure how many musicians actually worked on this record (I've heard numbers from nine to seventeen). Needless to say this is not a conventional rock band at all. I'm not sure I'd call this rock music anyway -- the writing is so structurally unusual, stylistically diverse, and instrumentally the band works more like a mini-orchestra. Each instrument, from violins to guitars to percussion, is an integral part of an organic collective rather than different musicians working together. Erm, those might sound like the same thing but they really aren't. Each track is a lengthy suite (16-minutes, 18-minutes, and 28-minutes long) languidly flowing through several movements. Taken individually, each section is remarkable in its own right but the full power of the music is the meshing of different passages to splash different undertows of emotion over a general mood. One could easily say the individual passages have nothing to do with each other and feel randomly spliced together, but I couldn't disagree more. Each movement carries on from the last with coterminous emotions, establishing a congruous whole encapsulated within each track. Perhaps the different movements don't make cohering musical sense (though I don't know who would be actually qualified to say such a thing), but they _do_ make emotional sense."The preacher-man says it's the end of says the preacher-man, but I don't go on what he says." For all of GYBE!'s anguished dirges for apocalyptic endings, there is a faint sparkle of hope sluiced somewhere inside that doomed, lonely shell. This dichotomy of tone -- faint-but-defiant hope and crushing despair -- is emotionally twisting, uniquely powerful, and has resonated through me ever since I've started listening to this band. I'm not sure how long the feeling will last, but this stuff cuts deep. The crescendos this band peaks at are nothing less than utterly overpowering -- 11 minutes into track 2, "East Hastings", I come dangerously close to crawling into a dark corner, clutching myself in the fetal position, and whimpering , "mommy...""...hungover it's awful, the sound of trains collapsing back behind of here; outside there are distant birds circling in front of 7 miles of heavy cloud falling down, &from where you're lying one of those clouds looks like a hanged man leading a blind, indifferent horse...THIS IS MILE END MY FRIEND, the hollowed out ruins here &a train runs straight thru them... we made a record here in mile End..."Those familiar with the band's mythic anonymity and vehement artistic credo may call them pretentious, but I'll be damned if they don't write some of the greatest music I've ever heard. Turn off the lights, crank the volume (this needs to be heard LOUD), and become lost in Mile End. It's a despairing, forlorn place, but you may never want to leave."
"And the flags are all dead at the top of their poles."
Shotgun Method | NY... No, not *that* NY | 05/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The opening monologue of Dead Flag Blues, followed by approximately five minutes of the most gloriously bleak and desolate music imaginable, is worth the price of this album alone. This is the hymn of civilization's final days.

Some critics love to refer to as Godspeed You Black Emperor! as pretentious, and I can see where that claim is valid. The protracted song lengths, the symphonic pretenses, the long expanses of what seems to be dead air, the found sounds, the apocalyptic imagery (as noted in aforementioned monologue), the whole lot. But this post-rock collective (pretty hard to refer to them as a "band," what with a rumored nine members and orchestral feel) easily transcends all those petty criticisms with their awe-inspiring and challenging music.

F#A (infinity) is not at all an easily digestible affair. We're talking 3 tracks, each composed with several movements, and the shortest being over 16 minutes, the longest close to 30. Even by post-rock standards (eight-minute songs are not outside the norm for bands like Explosions In The Sky and Sigur Ros) this is pretty inaccessible. Short attention spans need not apply. The instrumentation consists of guitar, violin, cello, bass, various electronics, drums, brass and more. In this respect, I am reminded of late Talk Talk but whereas the touchstone in albums like Laughing Stock was jazz and ambient, Godspeed You Black Emperor! seems to take its cues from classical orchestra.

Dead Flag Blues kicks off the album, establishing the desolate, resigned mood that defines the experience with its weeping strings and distant guitar. It's just devastating in its emotion and in the pictures it paints ("the skyline was beautiful on fire"). The third movement (The Cowboy) builds on a motif that is vaguely spaghetti-western, almost Morricone-ish, and ends in a twinkling, almost happy theme that suggests that there is hope, however distant it may be.

East Hastings kicks off with a sample of a crazy street preacher, backed by a short reprise of Dead Flag Blues on bagpipe. This eventually gives way to The Sad Mafioso, which is one of the most stirring pieces on the whole album (this was features prominently in the movie 28 Days Later, giving its most memorable and creepy scene even more resonance). The instrumental buildups, culminating about 11 minutes in, are so harrowing in their power that the quick retreat in the next movement (Drugs In Tokyo/Black Helicopter) takes one aback. The track concludes with a hazy, creepy, almost narcotic drone that is one of the most quietly terrifying things I've ever heard.

The final track, Providence, begins with another sample and continues in a vaguely similar fashion to The Sad Mafioso with its first two movements (orchestral buildups, though neither is as huge as its predescessor), and progressively getting more abstract before drifting off to a false ending. After several minutes it all returns for one last desperate hurrah to close out the album.

To my ears, this debut is Godspeed You Black Emperor!'s best, though the Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada gives it a run for its money. Lift Your Skinny Fists.. is good, but feels a little too drawn-out at times; and their latest Yanqui U.X.O. sounds a bit too much like the "band" simply repeating themselves (and also loses out on the found sounds, which I thought gave their previous albums a lot of character). At any rate, if you like post-rock in the vein of Dirty Three, Sigur Ros, and Explosions In The Sky, this is for you.

[On a totally unrelated note, does anyone else think the packaging for this album bears a striking resemblence to Slint's Spiderland? It's got the black-and-white pic on the front, a small illustration on the back, even the font used is similar.. a homage perhaps? Who knows?]"
I want to be soup when i grow up.
Shotgun Method | 11/17/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"this is it. there's a sort of fury in this music, it lies low and then whelms up and then overwhelms. the music is about tension and the subsequent release, and oh god is it beautiful. the one term that gets kicked around with this godspeed you black emperor! is 'apocalypse', and that goes so well with it - not in the oh-so-boring goth sense of the word, but more in the implications of decay and futility that the term inspires. this is not quiet desparation, however. this is music about life, and all the joy, sadness, rage, death and any other stuff you come across in your period. it's all here. the music swirls around and builds and builds, until you're so caught up in it that you can't leave until it's all over, and at about this point the music breaks. it explodes in a holy fury of brilliant white light and noise and passion, and it's a sort of surrogate emotion in and of itself. we've all been here. this is gooesbump music. it makes you die. very possibly the best album of the decade."