The genre defining iconoclasts deliver their latest end-times anthems.
Words by Rohan (@manvsplaylist):
And just like that, seemingly out of the blue, and borne of all the same frustrations and anxieties the world over has been mired in, the incomparable GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR have returned with a new album. Four years after their previous release Luciferian Towers (2017) and comprised of entirely brand new studio material, At State’s End! serves as a sonic punctuation piece to the past 12 months that only a band like GODSPEED could deliver. With the core members of the group entirely intact, as they have been for most of their storied 24-year stages of existence, the Canadian ensemble has managed to artfully continue their legacy as not just the architects of an entire sub-genre of sound, but as masters of a unique artistic & sonic vision.
“The car’s on fire”. Flickering “hope” projections. Flattened Canadian pennies. Each stage of this group’s output has been accompanied by at least one deeply connecting hook or note or passage or image that instantly, audibly or visually, transports you to THAT place. Those immediate chills you feel even just thinking about those impressions; sounds that connect you viscerally to a time and a place and an experience. Well, so too begins AT STATE’S END! with what sounds like a baritone guitar drone, simple notes that will sure to be experienced in the future as the iconic sound alarm to this particular chapter in GODSPEED’s unparalleled catalogue.
Consisting of two sprawling near 20-minute pieces, and interspersed with dramatic and tense field recordings and improvised instrumental motifs, GODSPEED unleash trademark levels of hypnotic swells, dense dissonance, subdued, nervous ambience and searing ascension. In this new work, long-time followers of the group will find several fresh elements to their sound too, like the up-front placement of organs and synths that stand out in the first cut 12a – A Military Alphabet. Elsewhere, familiar components of the band’s iconic sound greet the ears like a comfort blanket to a toddler: the shimmering violin, bruising percussion, swirling guitar vibratos, steering rumbling bass line and towering walls of feedback. All punctuated in grandiose, driving fashion and culminating in glorious new heights of crescendo.
Beginning with a call-and-response guitar riff harking back to the lower key drone moments from the opening bursts of the album, the album’s second cut 12b – The Government Came contains a punctual rhythmic drive and carries an unmistakably positive, uplifting energy that serves as the over arching calling card for Godspeed in 2021. Yes, there are clouds of uncertainty, stains of misery, loss and death in greater proportion than perhaps many of us have ever experienced in our lives, but ultimately, perseverance and optimism ring louder than despair. Resolute defiance carries on. Recovery from near fatal events is possible. The band’s own description of their visual and emotional surroundings during this recording is telling:
“it was autumn, and the falling sun was impossibly fat and orange.
we tried to summon a brighter reckoning there,
bent beneath varied states of discomfort, worry and wonderment.”
This particular installment of heightened sonic awareness was recorded and mixed at the band’s own Thee Mighty Hotel2Tango studio, and recorded and mixed by first time collaborator Jace Lasek (himself of esteemed The Besnard Lakes pedigree). This seems like a collaboration long in the making, and delivers an expansive, warm and textured sound that captures each component of these landscapes so clearly and articulately. So too has similar care an attention been directed to the album’s physical elements, often a trademark of GODSPEED’s work. For this release, illustrations were penned by William Schmiechen and contain several nods and winks are made to various iconic images & graphics found in prior albums.
Once again, GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR have provided not just a stunning sonic statement piece to our recent collective experience, but they remain the torchbearers of a sound entirely of their own while still managing to fully retain all the vibrancy and emotion that has come to define their two plus decades of creativity.
G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END! arrives April 2nd via CST Records. Get your copy HERE.