"The minimalist packaging suggests that it is a poverty-stricken indie rock band trying to be mysterious. The name evokes some kind of Nordic black metal thing. (Key words being "Emperor" and "black"). It was described to me as "epic." So I bought it, not really sure what I was going to be hearing.No one could have described the music in a way that could have me anticipating its greatness. To me, the music of Godspeed You Black Emperor! is surreally powerful and nearly impossible to describe without resorting to trite comments. The band is a nine-piece "post-rock" group, accurately depicted by others as a rock orchestra -- the instrumentation includes violins, cello, guitars, bass, kit drums, percussion, and French horn (\m/). Entirely instrumental, GYBE!'s music is identified by its moody epics of a build-build-build-crescendo pattern. Each song on _Lift Your Skinny..._ is around 20-minutes long, consisting of individual movements that are about seven-minutes long. Movements build like the swell of the ocean, until a crest breaks in climax...then it begins anew.It may sound repetitive, but this is not the case. Within this framework the band deploys dynamic creativity and musical worlds to spend a lifetime exploring. Ambient stretches, crying strings, booming guitar themes, astutely complex percussion, spoken word samples...the works -- all comprise this band's music. GYBE! creates some of the most compelling soundscapes I've heard from anyone. Even if a movement relies on the same melody all the way through, the nonpareil textural richness makes a seven-minute expanse seem to fade away all too quickly. There is so much to hear, but the sonic images are fleeting, as in a dream.Each song tells a story, but only the listener can articulate it. For me, the music explores feelings of love and sadness, deeply melancholic but often with a glimmer of hope to be found. The album is worth every penny for the downright stunning first track on the second disc, "Sleep". It is unquestionably one of the most emotional pieces of music I have heard, and it defines this band's power for me. The beauty of "Sleep" lies in its crush of melancholy which persists for the first 18 minutes, before hope blooms with a spine-tingling, triumphant finale. Every song, not just "Sleep", is an impressive excursion through music and emotion. This is the only band I have heard so in touch with the emotional conveyance of their instruments that the drums are sad. SAD DRUMS! My plans for world domination are on hold -- my new objective is to get all of this band's albums (easy, since they don't have many right now). When that is done, I can get back to building my super-laser."
New Progressive Rock
Christopher Forbes | Brooklyn,, NY | 09/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Who knew progressive rock would make a comeback. If you remember the heavy, pretentious music of Yes, Gentle Giant and King Crimson with fondness, as I do, then this is welcome news indeed. In the late 90s a number of groups from odd countries have been reviving the genre and adding their own new twists. Godspeed You Black Emperor, a variable group from 9 to 18 musicians from Montreal, is one of the most interesting of these new-prog groups.Lift Your Skinny Wrists is a double CD, lasting about 90 minutes in total. On the disc you will find GYBE's trademarks...long droning instrumental tunes which build up to shattering climaxes and then morph into new ostinati that repeat the process. New-Prog in general uses a mixture of traditional instruments, new instrumental techniques and influences from noise-rock to create it's textures. The variety in GYBE's music doesn't come in the forms or melodies, but in this fascinating build up of complex textures and in the powerful rhythmic drumming, which helps to develop the powerful crescendos. Each track on the disc is around 20 minutes long, forming a sort of non-stop suite. Tracks are also distinguished by the use of found sounds...the sounds of an automated voice warning shoppers at a connivance mart not to let homeless people pump their gas...an older man's recollections of the heyday of Coney Island...a new-age preacher talking about the transformation of Man into God...a backwoods folk singer. One gets the feeling that there is a story behind the recording...a program of sorts, perhaps related to GYBE's left-wing political slant. But the album can be enjoyed without any knowledge of that. This is beautiful rock...played with conviction and intensity. If you like Sigur Ros or Mogwai, Godspeed You Black Emperor should also be your cup of tea."
An Orchestral Masterpiece
chris. | Chicago, IL United States | 06/14/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Since its release in 2000, Godspeed You Black Emperor! has influenced many bands on the art rock scene. When the band formed years ago in Canada, as a nine piece band without any lyrics... well, lets just say Im surprised they made it this far.The album has the illusion that you are listening to a full orchestra, instead of guitars, basses, pianos, etc. The band has amazing talent, and if you aren't afraid of some odd music for just easy listening, then I think this is a wonderful album.As 20 minutes go by, you still have the sense that you just listened to about 5 songs, not just one, which is what makes this band so unique. They have the ability to take up so much time, and still have the songs not seem monotonous, which is something which hasnt been achieved since the days of full symphonies that WERE pop music.This is one of my favorite albums to sit and listen to, especially when I'm reading. You dont get distracted by any lyrics that you have the urge to sing along to, and somehow it is softly comforting.Comprised of two disks, the first disk to me is beautiful and seems more sculptural. The second disk is more violent, more tomultuous, sadder.This is a WONDERFUL album, and I strongly recommend it to those fans of art rock or modern classical (oxymoron?) If you prefer something with vocals (okay, so maybe this does have some guy talking about Coney Island and then some little kids singing in French, but im not sure those are "vocals") then I suggest a band like Sigur Ros, who has the same eerie type of landscapes. Rockier, go with Mogwai."
Dr. Rock | Chicago | 11/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Music like this is so rare. Music so mapped out, so layered, so etheral... This album is an experience. It isn't a collection of songs. It's a series of movements that form an orchestral piece. When listening to it you feel as if you're in another world; a barren landscape plagued by destruction and an impending apocolypse. Yet, despite this, there are still areas of light and hope.
When listening to this album, do it all at once. Don't start on track 2 of disc 1 or track 1 of disc 2... Play it all in succession. This is the best way to fully appreciate what you're listening to.
Also, this album may take a little while to sink in. But when it does, it will be one of the greatest things you've ever heard."
Eric Peterson | USA | 03/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Godspeed You Black Emperor!'s second full length attempt continues their tradition of completely extraordinary, breathtaking music. The songs buildup, climax, and end wonderfully. The music can be described as a profound, dramatic orchestral effort combining 3 guitars, 2 bassists, 2 drummers, violin, and cello, with eletronic ambience. It is not 'classical' in overall sound, but partly in song structure. It is extremely postmodern.
You must have patience. There is a lot of ambience within this album. However, it is definitely worth it to listen to songs in their full length, even though they are quite long songs (usually around 20 minutes each.) The songs also contain much buildup: like an approaching thunderstorm, the clouds come in setting the scene for the beautiful cataclsym at hand. The forceful wind arrives and wrecks the setting that was once full of grace. Lightning bolts with thundering crashes fill the scene with fear but awe at the same time...
If you are a post-rock fan, or just want to hear something different and new, look into this album and the rest of GYBE!. But if you enjoy short pop songs, then this is not for you."